Ramen isn't just for winter: Four trans-seasonal Japanese noodle soup recipes

Roast pumpkin miso ramen.
Roast pumpkin miso ramen. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Ramen, glorious ramen. So much more than just noodles in soup, ramen is opportunity. An opportunity that can and should be present every season beyond wanting to put warmth into our bones. Ramen is about nuance, and attention to detail is important. Sometimes we just want noodles in broth, even in the middle of a heatwave.

These recipes prove the Japanese soup is not confined to a simmer of piggy bones to produce a cloudy broth of intense meatiness, and subsequent heaviness; but one that can also be light and fresh with pungent dashes of heat and the opportunity to include a lawn's worth of greens, should you feel like it.

All recipes serve four and can be served with warm or chilled broth depending on your preference.

Tips for the perfect jammy soft-boiled egg

■ Use fresh, room temperature eggs

■ For the perfect no-fuss just-right boiled egg to top your ramen, place room temperature eggs into a pot of cold water and cook over high heat for 10 minutes. Ensure it is a cold-water start for the boil.

Tips for ramen noodles

■ Ramen noodles are thin wheat noodles available fresh and dried. Cooking times vary.

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■ Cook ramen noodles in a pot of unsalted boiling water for the time specified on the packet – usually two minutes or less. Drain them and add to your bowl when you are ready to eat.

■ Generally the heavier the broth, the lighter the noodle. This is why you see feathery fine stranded noodles with tonkotsu, and thicker curly noodles to capture miso.

■ If you can't find noodles labelled "ramen", use any kind of fresh or dried egg noodle or, at a pinch, two minute noodles. Ditch the flavour sachets and cook briefly in boiling water,  strain, rinse and drain before adding to your soup.

Pumpkin miso ramen

INGREDIENTS

For the pumpkin

600g pumpkin, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp white miso

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice bran oil (or other flavourless oil)

1 heaped tsp brown sugar

For the broth

3½ cups vegetable stock

¼ cup white miso

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 x 10cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Additions

kernels from 2 cobs corn

100g ramen noodles

1 bunch broccolini

1 bok choy

coriander leaves, sesame seeds and finely sliced nori, to serve (optional)

METHOD

For the pumpkin, preheat the oven to 180C. Add the pumpkin ingredients to a bowl and toss until the pieces are coated, then turn out onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked through and caramelised on the edges.

Meanwhile, prepare the broth: Pour the stock into a saucepan, add the ginger, garlic and spring onion, and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Add the noodles and cook over a low heat until tender (about 3 minutes – follow packet instructions for further guidance).

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the miso paste and soy sauce into the broth. Taste the broth and dilute with boiling water if you want a more subtle taste. Gently remove the noodles and strain the broth into a large bowl.

To serve, pour the hot broth into four serving bowls and place greens and corn directly into the broth so they cook in the residual heat. Add the reserved noodles and roasted pumpkin pieces and top with coriander leaves, sesame seeds and finely sliced nori, if using.

Note: If you would prefer a cold broth, place the broth in the fridge for at least an hour or until completely chilled before pouring into serving bowls. For a chilled broth, steam the greens before plating and serving.

Miso chicken ramen. Ramen recipes for Good Food online February 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink

This miso chicken ramen can be served wet or dry (hold the broth). Photo: Katrina Meynink

Crisp-skinned miso chicken ramen

INGREDIENTS

For the broth

1 litre chicken stock

1 x 10cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated

¼ cup white miso

2 tsp sesame oil

kernels from 2 cobs of corn

4 chicken breasts, skin-on

1-2 tsp rice bran oil

Ginger, miso and sesame dressing

3 tbsp white miso

1½ tbsp blackstrap molasses

⅓ cup tahini

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp powdered ginger

Additions

3 radishes, very finely sliced

2 tbsp pickled ginger

2 bunches bok choy, washed and quartered

1 spring onion, green part only, very finely sliced

100g ramen noodles, cooked according to packet instructions

METHOD

Make the dressing: Blend all the dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add a dash of water if the mixture is too thick. (Note: the dressing will keep for up to 10 days; store in an airtight container in the fridge).

For the broth add all ingredients except the corn kernels to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes to allow flavours to infuse. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly then add the corn kernels.

For the chicken, preheat oven to 180C. Place an ovenproof frypan over medium heat. Once hot, add the oil then place the chicken breasts skin-side-down in the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until skin is crisp and has taken on a caramel colour. Turn the chicken over and place the pan in the oven for  a further 5 minutes or until the breast meat has just cooked through. Remove from oven and slice thickly (about 1cm).

Pour broth into serving bowls. Add noodles and bok choy and allow to warm through in the broth. Top with the chicken pieces and drizzle over some miso dressing. Top with chopped spring onion, radishes and pickled ginger and serve immediately.

If you would prefer this ramen cold, allow all ingredients to cool completely in the fridge and steam the bok choy before serving.

Alternatively, for a dry version, steam the greens, strain the cooked noodles and assemble the ramen as above, without the broth.

Vegetarian ramen. Ramen recipes for Good Food online February 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink

Lighter, brighter vegetarian ramen. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Vegetable ramen

INGREDIENTS

For the broth

2¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock

¾ cup soy sauce

¼ cup sesame oil

½ cup Chinese cooking wine

½ cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp kecap manis

1 tsp hot sauce

3 shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced

Additions

100g ramen noodles, cooked according to packet instructions

1 x 250g punnet mixed small tomatoes, halved

1 spring onion, green part only, finely sliced

1 cucumber, cut into ribbons

2 small carrots, spiralised (or peeled into ribbons)

2 soft-boiled eggs (see tips above)

1 tsp furikake seasoning or to taste (available from Asian grocers)

METHOD

Make the broth by adding all ingredients except the hot sauce and shiitake to a large saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.

Remove from the heat and stir through the hot sauce and shiitake mushrooms. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.

Pour the broth into serving bowls and top with noodles, tomatoes and vegetables. Finally, top with 1 to 2 soft-boiled egg halves per bowl and sprinkle furikake over the eggs.

Pulled pork ramen. Ramen recipes for Good Food online February 2018. Please credit Katrina Meynink

This pork ramen is not as heavy as the traditional tonkotsu. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Pulled pork ramen

Note: This ramen is best served warm.

INGREDIENTS

Pork and broth

1 pork shoulder roast or Boston butt (about 1.2kg)

1 litre chicken stock

¼ cup soy sauce

3 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sesame oil

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tbsp fresh ginger

Additions

100g ramen noodles

1 jammy soft-boiled egg per person, sliced in half lengthwise (see tips above)

1 bunch enoki mushrooms

4-6 shiitake mushrooms

1-2 spring onions, green part only, finely sliced

METHOD

Add the pork to the pot of a slow-cooker or a deep-sided oven-proof dish. Pour over the remaining broth ingredients except for the sesame oil. Cover and cook for 4 to 6 hours – on the low setting if using a slow-cooker, or 160C if using the oven – until pork is tender and falls apart when pulled with a fork.

Remove the pork from the liquid, reserving the broth, and shred the meat into a bowl.

Add the mushrooms to the warm broth to cook for 1 to 2 minutes and set aside. While the mushrooms are cooking in the broth's residual heat, place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sesame oil and cook the pulled pork until it caramelises lightly on the edges, about 1 to 3 minutes. If you want some extra crunch, sprinkle over 1 tablespoon brown sugar to help crisp up the edges.

Pour broth into serving bowls. Add the noodles, allowing them to warm through in the broth before adding the pulled pork, soft-boiled egg halves and spring onion. Serve warm.