Sunday, December 2, 2012

Explorations Into Ramen

I am very fickle when it comes to grocery stores. Most of the time I am obsessed with Whole Foods. Recently, I dumped Whole Foods as a favorite and replaced it with an Armenian market in the San Fernando Valley over some lavosh, basmati rice, and bulk tahini and I think the truth is that my palate is fickle and it’s hard to nail me down to wanting my kitchen stocked with any one cuisine over another. Sometimes my kitchen is American, other times Indian, and still others a hybrid of Greek, Middle Eastern and Thai. What I have given over to realizing is that I truly am an unorthodox foodie and tend to make dishes at home that are a cross breed of multiple culinary landscapes (thus the unorthodox) rather than any purist version of one. It is a little strange at times I am sure but in the end, everything I create ends up being inherently me.

Recently, the Cute Gardener and I spent a rainy afternoon at the Mitsuwa Japanese Marketplace and Food Court. First we stopped at Santouka in the Food Court for a bowl of hot ramen. I am relatively new at the ramen game only having tried about five different restaurants for the classic noodle soup in my lifetime. There are so many varieties of noodles and broths and so many different ways that people favor the bowl for themselves. What I have started to discover for my own liking is ramen that has a hearty pork flavor, a touch of miso, perfect hard boiled eggs, some kind of salty seaweed or seasoned mushroom with a rubbery texture and noodles that are firm and not to thick or not too thin and more eggy-flavored than plain. For all of those reasons, the bowl from Santouka is my favorite so far, although the pork didn’t compare to the soft, fatty meat that came floating in the homemade variety I experienced lately made for me by my man.

Inspired, I spent some time after our lunch shopping at the Japanese market. I love spending a week’s grocery budget in an exotic store and this time I bought a bounty of Asian ingredients like eggplant, matcha chocolate candies, mochi ball desserts, bok choy and then gathered some items to make my very own ramen bowl including chicken stock, marinated and cooked eel, udon noodles, and soy sauce. I enjoyed making the soup at home and even added some chopped, fresh kale that had been sitting in my crisper.

The end result was a bowl of spicy fat noodled goodness accentuated nicely by the sweet bits of eel. I am looking forward to experimenting more with ramen in my kitchen, as the possibilities seem endless.

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