So Jon and I go way back to last year, when we read together in Southern Maryland, which was a lot of fun. And then we hung out in January at the Arlington public library, where we sparred over Issues of Writing.
- Here’s a photo (Jon’s on the right):
- We like Jon a bunch. So much that we handed over keys to the blog. He’s going to talk to you about the importance of proper ramen noodles before sliding a pirate ramen recipe out of the galley to be delicious at you. Welcome, Jon!
- (the wonderful Katie has done us all the favor of laying out the recipe and the post because no one wants me to do that and draft a book at the same time.)
- I generally refer to The Empire of Storms as my swashbuckling pirate gangster romance epic. It’s sent in an archipelago of island because that geography gave me more excuses for awesome pirate battles. When I began writing Hope and Red, the first book in the series, I decided to model the food after a well known real life archipelago of islands: Japan. With a great stroke of luck this also happens to be some of my favorite food. Whew. Naturally, I went to a lot of Japanese restaurants for “research”, which was expensive but delightful. I asked my Japanese friends and acquaintances silly questions and begged them to cough up any recipes they might have. I learned quite a lot, and even began making some of it at home. I really took a liking to one shoyu ramen recipe in particular. I then began tweaking it to my particular tastes and budget.
This recipe feeds about 2-3 people (technically one adult and two children) because that’s all I need. Depending on where you live, you may have to find an Asian market for some of these ingredients or buy them online. And when I say “ramen noodles”, I don’t mean instant ramen. If you can’t find any proper ramen noodles, substitute soba or udon. Weirdly, those are easier for me to find in my grocery stores.
I want to emphasize that what follows is no longer a legit ramen recipe. Instead, it’s my own pirate ramen. But it is damn good, not too horrible for you, and fairly cheap to make. Yarrr!
Also, to do it properly, you need to prepare the stock the day before. I’ve found there’s something about letting it sit overnight that makes a difference.
- 3 strips dried kombu (seaweed)
- 12 cups water
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1/2 tbsp mirin
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 carrots
- 2 bunch of scallions
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 1 egg
- 2 bunches ramen noodles (not instant)
- pork shoulder roast
- Baking twine (optional)
Additional suggested toppings (mix and match or add your own!)
- Bamboo shoots
- Snow peas
- Bonito flakes
- Momi nori (roasted shredded seaweed)
Combine mirin, soy sauce, and sake. Cover and let sit in the fridge. We call this mixture “tare” and it will come in at the very end.
In large pot, bring kombu and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes. Remove and discard kombu. Set pot of water aside.
Wrap pork shoulder roast with baking twine. This isn’t necessary, I guess, but it goes a long way in keeping the roast from falling apart later. Heat up large skillet and sear the roast on all sides, then add to pot of water.
Peal and chop carrots. Coarsely chop scallions and add to water. Cut head of garlic in half horizontally. Add all to pot of water.
Bring water to a boil, then let simmer about 2.5-3 hours until the liquid has reduced to less than half the original volume.
Remove roast and let it cool down a bit.
Strain out everything from the stock and throw it away. Put the stock in the fridge.
Now that the roast is a little cooler, roll it tightly in plastic wrap and put in the fridge as well.
Take tare out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit while you’re getting everything else ready.
Prep the toppings. Unwrap the pork roast, remove the baking twine, and slice thinly. If you want to add an egg, only boil it for about 7 minutes, then drop it in ice water. You want the yolk still pretty gummy. And when you serve it, you’ll want to cut it vertically down the middle, and place one half in each bowl. For harder veggies like broccoli, I recommend you steam it for a minute or so. For softer leafy veggies like spinach, just toss it in raw and the heat of the broth will cook it.
Cook the ramen (or soba, or udon, or whatever). Ramen and soba usually only takes about three to four minutes. Udon takes a bit longer. Drain and separate into the bowls. Lay toppings artfully on top of dry noodles
Heat the stock until it’s at or near boiling temp, then pour slowly and gently over the toppings into each bowl until it just barely covers the noodles and leaves the toppings sitting on top. Don’t completely submerge the toppings. Then drizzle the tare over everything.
Now eat it quickly with chopsticks while it’s still piping hot. Don’t be afraid to slurp! I guess if you want, you can also use a spoon at the end for the last of the stock, but I just drink it out of the bowl because this is pirate ramen, yarr!
Jon Skovron is the author of several Young Adult fantasy novels, including Misfit, Man Made Boy and This Broken Wondrous World. His first adult fantasy series, The Empire of Storms, began last June with the release of Hope and Red, published by Orbit Books. The second book in the series, Bane and Shadow, is out February 28th. He lives with his two sons and two cats just outside Washington DC, where he hosts a regular writing discussion series at the Arlington Public Library. His website is jonskovron.com. Subscribe to his newsletter at tinyletter.com/skovron