Ramen is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Although ramen is now part of the Japanese culture, it came originally from China. In Japan each ramen restaurant will have their own secret stock recipe and this is guarded from one generation to the next. You can find ramen stalls on street corners and these are popular places to visit on the way home after a night out.
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper to season
1 chicken breast, butterfly cut
1 litre chicken stock
1 tablespoon dried seaweed
2 packs of egg or ramen noodles (about 400g)
3 tablespoons white miso paste
100g beansprouts, washed handful of pak choi leaves, washed and roughly chopped
spring onion to garnish shichimi togarashi and/or chilli oil to add a little spice
To serve ramen you’ll need;
2 large bowls 2 spoons 2 sets of chopsticks
1 To make the marinade for the chicken breast, in a small bowl mix together the sake, vegetable oil, salt and pepper.
2 Using your hands, completely cover the chicken in the marinade and leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
3 Once the chicken is ready, heat a heavy-based pan on a medium to high heat and seal the chicken on both sides. Then reduce the heat and continue to fry until the chicken is cooked through and set aside.
4 Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan and immediately reduce to a simmer.
5 Place the dried seaweed in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Then squeeze out any excess water and set aside.
6 Place the noodles in a bowl of boiling water and gently untangle using a fork or chopsticks. Drain in a colander and rinse under a running cold tap to remove any excess starch.
7 Toss the noodles into the stock. Bring the stock back to the boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer.
8 In a small bowl, mix the miso paste with a few tablespoons of hot stock from the saucepan, dissolving any lumps. Add the miso paste to the stock and mix well together.
9 Divide the noodles between two large serving bowls. Then divide the seaweed, beansprouts and pak choi evenly between the two bowls, arranging carefully. Slice the cooked chicken breast and place on top of the ingredients as shown in the picture.
10 Finally, fill the bowls about three-quarters full with the miso stock and garnish with spring onion and shichimi togarashi or chilli oil.
I remember collecting buckets of persimmon fruit (also called sharon fruit) with the elementary school children behind the local school where I worked in Japan. It reminded me of how we pick apples here in Ireland. In the past few years I was delighted to see this beautifully coloured fruit in my local supermarket. It is best eaten ripe otherwise it will be hard and bitter. To check if it’s ripe just press on the skin and it should be soft to touch. A really ripe persimmon can be eaten by slicing the top off the fruit and scooping out the flesh with a spoon. The persimmon and white chocolate cream in this recipe are a marriage made in heaven!
puff pastry, shop bought and pre-rolled (320g puff pastry makes 9 servings)
5 persimmon fruit (about half a persimmon fruit per serving),
brown sugar to dust
100g good quality white chocolate
250ml fresh cream, whipped
icing sugar to serve
1 Unwrap the pastry and roll out on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife cut the pastry into rectangular pieces large enough to serve one person for dessert. For 320g of puff pastry I divided the pastry into nine servings.
2 Peel the persimmon fruit, cut in half and then into thick slices.
3 Place four or five pieces along the centre of the pastry. Dust with brown sugar.
4 Bake at 200°C in a fan oven for 10–15 minutes until the pastry is slightly browned and crisp.
5 Break the white chocolate into small squares and place in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water on a medium heat. Allow the chocolate to slowly melt while stirring.
6 Once completely melted set aside for a few minutes to let cool a little, then add to the whipped cream and mix well together.
7 Serve the persimmon tart with a spoonful of white chocolate cream and dust with icing sugar.
4 eggs, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tablespoon ingredient matcha powder
250ml whipped cream for filling
icing sugar for dusting
You’ll need swiss roll tin (10” x 15” or 13” x 9”)
1 Preheat a fan oven to 180ºC.
2 Whisk the eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer for about 10 minutes until nice and fluffy.
3 Sieve the flour and matcha together a few times to make sure the matcha powder is completely mixed into the flour.
4 Using a large spoon gently fold the sieved flour into the egg and sugar mix.
5 Carefully line a baking tin with greaseproof paper and lightly grease with butter.
6 Pour the batter into the baking tin, using a spatula to gently even it out.
7 Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until a skewer/sharp knife inserted comes out clean.
8 Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the baking tin.
9 Turn the cake over onto a clean tea towel, then carefully peel off the greaseproof paper.
10 Roll the cake in the tea towel and allow to cool (this will avoid it breaking later).
11 Unfold the cake when it is cool and spread the whipped cream evenly on the cake.
12 Roll again and dust with icing sugar. Put in the fridge until ready to eat.
The past few years has seen an increasing interest in bone broths due to their amazing health benefits. This recipe is similar to a standard chicken stock recipe but I’ve added a few ingredients to give a Japanese flavour and umami to the stock, including kombu (kelp) seaweed. After cooling the stock you can remove the thin layer of fat sitting on the surface of the liquid. Then it can be stored in the fridge for a few days or it can be frozen.
Makes 1 litre
1½ litres cold water
dried kombu (kelp), a postcard sized piece
raw whole chicken carcass
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, washed and roughly chopped
1 thumb-size piece of ginger, cut into slices
2 tablespoons sake (optional)
1. Place 1½ litres of cold water and dried kombu in a large saucepan. Set aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the water to absorb the umami from the seaweed.
2. Add the chicken carcass, carrot, leek, ginger and sake to the saucepan.
3. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
4. Use a ladle to remove any foam from the top of the water and cover with a lid.
5. Continue to simmer for at least 1 hour and for up to 3 hours on a low–medium heat.
6. You should have a little over 1 litre of chicken stock left depending on how long it’s been simmering.
7. Strain the stock through a sieve and allow to cool. 8 Store in the fridge for a few days or freeze.
Japanese rice is a type of short-grain rice that has to be washed in a particular way to remove the excess starch. To get the perfect bowl of rice follow the steps below. Most Japanese people leave the rice sitting in the sieve for about 15 minutes before cooking. If you don’t have time you can skip this step.
How to wash:
1. Place the measured rice in a medium-sized bowl, cover with cold water and gently rub the rice grains against each other using your hands.
2. Drain the rice, add more water and repeat two or three times until the water runs almost clear.
3. Finally place the washed rice in a sieve to drain excess water.
How to cook:
Using a rice cooker
If you have a rice cooker at home, please wash the rice as instructed above and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to cook the rice. Generally the rice cooker will include a rice measuring cup and a measure on the inside of the rice cooker bowl to guide you on the amount of water to add.
Using a saucepan (amount given serves 4 people)
Heavy-based saucepan with a tight lid 2 cups
Japanese rice (using a measured rice cup this weighs 320g), uncooked
2½ cups cold water
1. Transfer the washed rice to the saucepan.
2. Add two and a half cups of cold water, cover and slowly bring to the boil over a medium to high heat (this takes about 10 minutes depending on the size of the saucepan and heat source).
3. Once the water is boiling, reduce to a medium to low heat and continue to cook, covered, for a further 6 minutes or until the water is fully absorbed into the rice.
4. Without lifting the lid (if possible – if the lid on the saucepan is not clear you may want to slightly lift it to check if the water is fully absorbed), remove from the heat and set aside for another 10 minutes to allow the rice to continue cooking in its own steam.
5. Use a rice spatula to gently fold the rice, then serve.
One of the secrets of the Japanese diet is “The Power of Miso Soup”. In the traditional Japanese diet miso soup accompanies every meal. Drinking miso soup will boost digestion after meals and help cleanse the body. It’s low in fat and carbohydrates, and high in protein. In addition to its health benefits miso soup makes you feel full for a longer period which stops snacking between meals. Here’s my simple miso soup to get you started on your food journey to the Japanese way of eating.
For the dashi
– 1 litre water
– Few thin strips of dried Irish kombu (kelp)
– 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
For the miso soup
– 200g savoy cabbage leaves, washed and roughly chopped
– 2–3 tbsp miso paste, depending on your own taste
– shichimi togarashi, to season (japanese seven spice)
1. Put 1 litre of cold water in a large saucepan. Add the kombu and shiitake mushrooms to the water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes (If you have time leave to soak for a few hours or overnight in the fridge). Heat the water until it comes to the boil and then remove the kombu and mushrooms immediately.
2. Add the cabbage leaves and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Dilute the miso paste in a small cup of dashi taken from the saucepan.
4. Reduce soup to a very low heat and add the miso paste to the saucepan. Gently stir into the soup until mixed through. Taste to check if you need to add more miso paste.
5. Serve in a bowl and season with shichimi togarashi.
Store the miso soup in a flask for a work or on the go healthy lunch option.