Here at The Cheshire Dining Experience, we’re always on the lookout for inspiration for the culinary adventures that we thrive on taking our clients and guests through.
Whether we're studying classic cookbooks, modern techniques online, or just plain old fashioned restaurant research, we strive to keep learning and push boundaries where we can.
New York is obviously a huge gastronomic hub with endless opportunities for research. I had three days and I had to make them count.
I had a vague plan of places I wanted to visit and I trekked across the city in wonder, watching it evolve from the day through to night, amazed at how it gave birth to such an incredible atmospheres and feeling, leading to a very organic treasure map of wondrous culinary delights: I ate Poke on street corners and drank craft beers on rooftop terraces overlooking Time’s Square.
I made a personal pilgrimage over to Williamsburg in Brooklyn where I grabbed a cheese slice and managed to have a chat with Frank Pinello, the owner of the cult ‘Best Pizza’ (NB: I did slightly overdose on pizza during this trip!)
I jumped on the subway to downtown where I managed to negotiate my entry into the legendary PDT. ‘Please Don’t Tell’ is a secret cocktail bar hidden behind a phone booth in an unassuming dog joint.
All of this was incredible. I mean honestly. This was my first time in NY and I was completely dumbstruck by the city, its people but more importantly, its food and drink.
“You’re a pretty opinionated guy, Nic, surely you had a favourite place?” you ask...
My entire Big Apple experience was culminated by an incredibly simple dish served in a humble environment in one of my favourite chef’s flagship venues - David Chang opened Momofuko Noodle bar in August 2004 and has never looked back. Today, he is viewed as one of America’s greatest chefs and the down to earth, genially balanced bowl of ramen I had there will last in my memory forever.
The world of Ramen is surrounded by opinion and cultural heritage. You could have (and people have) written entire books about the diversity of regional Ramen and the soup broth that accompanies it.
I'd like to share with you one of my recipes - some would call it a complete bastardisation but I don’t care because it tastes amazing and you can get the majority of the ingredients from your ‘local, express or otherwise’ supermarket so, “whatever!!”
For the broth:
100g fresh ginger
6 cloves of garlic
6 spring onions
400g mushrooms (you can be as fancy or as basic as you like with these. All you're trying to achieve is to draw the umami mushroom flavour into the broth)
100g dried shiitake mushrooms (dried shiitakes add an irreplaceable depth of flavour in the broth, plus they can live in your store cupboard for up to a year)
30g white miso paste (again, this would have to be sourced from a bigger supermarket but it will last in your pantry for a good amount of time)
75ml dark soy sauce
Roughly chop the ginger, garlic, and spring onion add to a pan with all the other ingredients, except the soy sauce
Cover with 2 litres of water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for at least an hour
You’re basically making an umami rich, vegetable broth so when you are happy with the depth of flavour, strain the mixer, add the soy sauce to season and keep ticking over on the hob until your garnishes are ready
Well, this part is totally up to you. The noodle is obviously crucial and I cannot describe the joy in the texture of the al dente noodles in Momfuku, but once you get your broth down, your noodle game will soon follow.
In my dish I have the following garnishes:
My broth is also completely vegetarian but you can play around with bone broths. I would strongly suggest sourcing some Kombu and Katsubioshi to take your noodle soup to a whole new level.
My dish is completely different to my New York experience but it just goes to show how incredibly creative you can be with food, even in your own home.
I hope this has given you a rough guide to the world of Ramen; hopefully you'll want to go and experiment to find your perfectly balanced Ramen.
Until next time, readers… I’m walking here!