Sunday, April 28, 2013

Soup #17/ Asian Sesame Ramen

This week's soup is a belated birthday soup for my dear Pops! We celebrated his big day last month, but with schedules and work and all that good stuff, E and I have been saying "we've got to get him a soup!" for the last month. Luckily this week there was a gap in my day and I was able to take this over to the TownsBurr Gallery (my dad and step mom's gallery - check it out!) and the three of us got to celebrate all over again!  

His birthday soup request was "something broth-y with chicken and vegetables and noodles."  It sounds like the options are sort of limited really, but as this project has shown me, broth, chicken, vegetables, and noodles are only a starting point for a whole bunch of amazing tasting soups. So with that request I got to thinking and decided on an Asian-style ramen. Growing up my dad and I had a ramen place we loved to go to. The place isn't there anymore, but I thought it would be a nice homage to the past to cook up a ramen for his birthday!

What you will need: 
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • about 1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3-4 heads of baby bok choy
  • a bunch of green onion, chopped on a slant (just so they look pretty!)
  • about a cup of snap peas, halved on a slant (again, the pretty factor)
  • 1 package of dried ramen noodles
How to make it:

First off, get your  chicken ready. I used frozen chicken breasts, cleaned them and chopped them into about 2-3 inch pieces.   Place the chicken in a large frying pan and add your chopped fresh ginger.  Turn onto medium heat and cover.  You're pretty much just going to poach the chicken. Every few minutes, check on the chicken and turn till all sides are white, and it appears to be mostly cooked through. It will cook more in the soup later on. Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a large soup pot, add your chicken broth and turn heat to medium high. As it's warming up, add in your soy sauce and sesame oil. You may want to use these measurements as a guideline and add more or less to taste. I'll talk about it more later, but I think I was a little too cautious with this soy sauce. Bring the broth to a boil and add in your green onion so the flavors can marry a bit.  Add in the chicken with the bits of ginger. Allow the soup to simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Now you can add in your ramen noodles. They don't take long to cook so keep a close eye on them. Once they are almost ready or al-dente (to use an Italian saying for an Asian soup), add in your baby bok choy and snap peas so they don't get too wilty and soggy. 

When your veggies have turned a bright green and your ramen is soft, and your chicken is cooked through, you're ready to dish it up and serve!

The verdict: 
A successful birthday soup! Though I do have to say we all came to the conclusion that it needed a little bit more flavor.  But despite that, it did come out pretty good. It was a light and tasty soup that left you feeling healthy and satisfied. And the birthday boy was happy too, so it was a definite success!

What we'd do differently: 
To fix the flavor issue, I think I would cook the chicken with a little more seasoning, maybe steam it with some soy sauce. That would have helped. And maybe a dash more of ginger and a little somethin'-somethin' (more soy sauce? maybe some miso flavoring?) in the broth to perk up the taste of the sesame, it would be juuuuuust right!