I can heartily reminisce the lazy Saturdays doing naught but watching cartoons and anime, and eating munchies all day long. I especially remember the food shown on-screen, and how irresistibly tempting they were pictured—especially when characters like Naruto slurp it down so tenaciously. Well, I’m no longer a child (evidenced by my access to cooking vessels like stoves), and I will have my Ichiraku Ramen even if I have to make it myself! There’s an actual ramen restaurant that almost entirely revolves around the anime, Naruto, but I can’t up and go to Japan just for a bowl of ramen, or can I? Definitely not. So, fortunately for me, there are various recipes online and after a quick look at the ingredients, I picked one that I liked (easy to substitute for halal ingredients and on availability).
Before we get down to the recipe, let’s take a look at the anime’s real-life ramen restaurant, Ichiraku Ramen, under the same name as the one where Naruto gets his ramen from in the anime.
The officially licensed, fiction-to-fact restaurant opened around February last year in Fukuoka, Japan, close to where Naruto’s creator, Masashi Kishimoto, went to university. The ramen restaurant has two locations in the area, and just like later in the show, serves a variety of Japanese cuisine—their specialty being the famous Miso Tonkotsu, Naruto’s usual and favourite.
Inside, the shop features cut-outs of popular characters of the show, scrolls, plates with kanji, and all around Naruto-stuff.
As a matter of fact, the manga and anime counterpart is based on a real place called Ichiraku Ramen in Fukuoka where, it’s said that the Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto frequented while in uni, one in a chain of ramen restaurants. This shop closed down while the series was still young. With the opening of the new official shop, this sure brings it full circle!
Okay, enough weebing around, here’s the recipe I’ll be attempting. This is an altered recipe, sourced from Emily Bushman, Crunchyroll. Keep in mind, these are approximate measurements. The recipe calls for a lot of prep, and a lot of hard-to-find ingredients. If authenticity is not your biggest concern, feel free to opt out for the provided substitutes or others.
For the Broth + Noodles:
Ramen noodles/Chinese egg noodles
450g-900g beef bones (substitutable with store-bought broth)
4 litres of water
1 inch fresh ginger
1 3-inch strip kombu (substitutable with dried bonito/pepper flakes)
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
8 tbsp miso (substitutable with sesame paste, or alternatively make your own!)
1/4 tsp chilli bean paste (optional)
For the Chasu beef:
450g cut of beef, brisket or tenderloin seems to work best (not cut into strips like bacon)
Salt (to taste)
1 inch fresh ginger
2/3 cup (160 ml) water
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce
3 tbsp white sugar
For the soft boiled ramen eggs:
6 eggs (count on 1 egg per bowl—cook eggs accordingly!)
1/3 cup (80ml) soy sauce
1/3 cup (80ml) mirin (substitutable with rice vinegar—add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon rice vinegar)
1 cup (240ml) water
Additional (Optional) Toppings:
Naruto (fish cake)
Menma (preserved bamboo shoots)
A note: Get the broth started, and make the beef and the eggs while you’re waiting for the broth to fully cook. You can prepare the broth, beef, and eggs the night before, and then assemble on the day of serving. Before moving onto step 9, bear in mind that the broth, eggs, and beef should all be ready to use after their copious cooking/marinating times.
1. Start with the broth, throw the bones, ginger, and water into a stock pot. Begin to boil. As it boils, strain off any scum that floats to the top. Reduce to a simmer, and let simmer about 6 hours. Replace water as needed, so that it is always at the same level and bones are covered. When it is ready, strain the broth to remove the ginger, bones, and any debris in the broth.
2. Throw kombu (or substitute) into the pot with the strained broth, and bring back up to a simmer. Let simmer about 15 minutes. Remove kombu, and add in soy sauce and the sugar. Stir well, and then take a ladle full of broth, and mix it into the miso to thin it out. Add in parts, tasting as you go, until you’re happy with the saltiness of your broth.
3. Finally, add in the chilli paste to the broth as desired. The purpose is to add a little complexity and give it a slight kick, but add at your own discretion. Set aside in the fridge overnight, or set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
4. Next, soft boil the eggs. Bring a pan of water to a boil. Pierce the fat end of the eggs with a pin to allow the air bubble in the egg to be pushed out as the egg cooks. Add in the eggs to the boiling water, and let the water simmer for seven minutes (don’t let it go to a full boil).
I do this by dropping the eggs in and leaving them alone—the temperature of the eggs will reduce the heat of the water enough. But control your heating apparatus as you see fit. After seven minutes, remove from water and immediately deposit into an ice water bath—this stops the cooking process immediately.
5. When eggs have cooled, GENTLY peel the eggs. The white will be delicate, so go slowly and carefully!
6. Transfer a few ladle-fulls of the broth into a bag or a bowl, and allow eggs to sit in it. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours at least, and overnight for best taste.
7. For the beef, heat a neutral oil (like vegetable oil) over high heat in a pan. When hot, brown the beef, about 4-5 minutes each side, and 1-2 minutes on the edges. Afterwards, remove from pan, and wipe the pan out. Put in the liquids (water, soy sauce), the sugar, and the ginger, and place the beef back in the pan. Bring up to a simmer. Cover with a foil lid to promote even distribution of cooking.
8. Flip once, halfway through cooking, which should take about 45 minutes to an hour. It is ready when the sauce is thickened and you can see the bottom of the pan when you push it around. When the sauce begins to bubble up, and the beef has a shiny coating, it’s ready. Remove from pan, with sauce, and set aside or store in fridge.
9. Slice the green onions finely, slice the (optional) naruto, get out the (optional) menma (they usually come prepared in a jar or tin), slice the eggs in half, and slice the beef so that you get thin slices of swirled beef.
10. Put a pot of water on to boil. When boiling, place fresh ramen noodles into a strainer, and deposit into the water. Allow to cook about 90 seconds, or until noodles are bouncy. Immediately remove from the water with the strainer, and put in a serving bowl.
11. Ladle the broth over the noodles, and then top with the toppings as you see fit! For the proper Naruto ramen, you need five slices of the beef, a handful of chopped green onions, some slices of naruto, menma, and one half of a soft boiled egg. It’s done!
Ramen to amaze—Dattebayo! Have fun with this, and itadikimasu!
By Ali Ifaz