Tag Archives: broth

Kubara Ramen Broth

Kubara makes ready-made ramen broth. They currently offer shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce) and yuzu shio (citrus salt) flavors. All are robust and full of flavor, but I like the shoyu (soy sauce) the best. All broths are based in seafood and kelp, but I am blown away by the depth and intensity they all have.

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For more information about ramen, check out my Guide to Ramen Styles. Enjoy!

Ariake Broth, Stock and Sauce

Meet Ariake, a concentrated ramen broth, bone stock and sauce supplier. Just add water to dilute and create the goods.

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I was delighted to see that they use the correct terminology here. Bones make a stock, not a broth. This beef stock was very flavorful, but it had a bit of sweetness. I think it would grow on me after some time, but I was expecting a fattier, more savory flavor profile.

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I tried their pork broth here. Perhaps it was diluted a bit to much, or needed to be presented with some actual meat, but it felt a little flat to me. I think if presented with actual meat it might be a bit better.

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The sauces were interesting – there were many flavors!

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This one caught my eye in particular:

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While I didn’t have it with meat, I thought it was pretty good. It had a worschestshire kind of flavor, along with hints of meat gravy.

Ramen Guide

With ramen season kicking into high gear, I suppose it’s high time that I put out a guide to ramen for all of you cold, hungry fucks out there looking to get your soup on. This should serve as your singular, all-encompassing resource for all things slurp. This is more of an informational page, clearly, so if you’ve landed here looking for my ramen reviews, you should go to the Ramen-Ate-R page, where you can read about the tremendous shitload of ramen that I’ve eaten.

There are a bunch of things you need to keep in mind when thinking about ramen. Namely, you need to think about the thickness of the broth, how the broth is made, how it is seasoned, what kind of noodles are used, the toppings, and, finally (if you’re into food knowledge), where the ramen style was developed and the history behind the dish. So let’s get into it:

BROTH THICKNESS

This is classified as either assari (light) or kotteri (rich). Assari broths are generally thin or clear, as they are typically flavored with vegetables, fish or seaweed. If animal bones are used at all, they are usually just simmered lightly for a short amount of time.

Kotteri, on the other hand, are thick and usually opaque, due to all the emulsified fats, proteins and minerals that are rendered from boiling animal bones for long periods of time. That makes them stocks, technically, not broths. Kotteri are also known as Paitan (from the Chinese). Paitan translates to white broth, which makes sense, given that they are usually cloudy in color and thick in texture.

SOUP BASE

Ramen soup bases are classified by the main ingredients that are boiled or simmered to make the soup stock (if bones are used) or broth  (if no bones are used). As expected, a stock can be made from animal bones (chicken, beef, pork, fish). But lighter broths can be made with dried seafood or kelp/seaweed (like dashi – a broth made from dried, smoked bonito flakes and kelp), and sometimes even just straight up roasted veggies and mushrooms + water.

An example I will use to illustrate here is tonkotsu. “Ton” means pork, and “kotsu” means bones. Thus, the tonkotsu ramen base is a kotteri style thick stock made from pork bones, which would then need to be seasoned with a salty or savory component, which is covered in the next section.

SEASONING

Tare or kaeshi is the seasoning – the main savory element or source of salt – that is used to flavor the ramen. Ramen seasoning comes in three major varieties: Shoyu, Shio and Miso.

Shoyu: This, simply, is soy sauce. If you didn’t know, soy sauce is made from a paste of fermented and boiled soybeans, roasted grains and seasoned water.

Shio: Sea salt. Pretty straightforward. As you can imagine, sea salt as a seasoning is nicely suited for thinner, assari style broths.

Miso: This is an earthy flavored, thick, fermented soybean paste. Seasoning with miso will almost always result in a thick, kotteri style broth, as you can see below:

NOODLES

Ramen noodles are made with wheat flour, water, salt and kansui, an alkaline water which gives the noodles their yellow color and characteristic bounce. In China, it’s more common to see ramen made with eggs instead of kansui.

Depending on the soup they’re added to, ramen noodles can range from wavy to straight, thick to thin, flat, round or square. The type of noodle selected for a bowl of ramen is based on its broth-clinging characteristics, its bounciness and its texture. For that reason, one noodle style may be better suited for a particular soup base or broth thickness than another.

Depending on the noodles used, cook times will vary as well. In addition, their ability to last for a while, soaking in the soup broth, will vary. After a few minutes certain noodles will lose their spring and bounce, and the texture will change.

Just an FYI here: if you need more noodles while you are eating, yell out kaedama!

TOPPINGS

We have a bunch of categories to discuss here. Let’s start with the most important one: meat.

Obviously if a ramen base is made with animal bones, it only makes sense to use the same animal meat as a topping for the soup. Tonkotsu should have copious amounts of kakuni (pork belly), or chashu (rolled pork loin or belly that is cooked slowly in a sweet soy and mirin sauce, stew-style, then sliced and sometimes charred or grilled afterward for texture). Clearly, chicken is a good topper for your chicken-based ramen. But some chefs get creative. For example I’ve had beef ramen that was topped with crispy beef intestines. I’ve even had chicken broth that was topped not only with chicken but with ground pork as well. Mixing is not a bad thing and it is quite common, as you’ll learn below.

In addition to meat, ramen broths also contain aromatics, such as garlic (fresh, charred, fried or fermented), onions (charred, pickled or raw), ginger (either pickled – beni shoga – or fresh), leeks (fresh or charred), scallions (usually fresh, typically sliced or shredded) and mushrooms (both dried and fresh, and a ton of different types). These can also be incorporated into the creation of the soup base at the start, not just as toppings that are added at the time of serving.

Other common toppings include seasoned soft boiled or hard boiled eggs, sliced fish cakes (naruto), bamboo shoots, corn, cabbage, seaweed, bean sprouts, spice pastes, butter and various oils, such as chili oil, onion oil, pepper oil, garlic oil or sesame oil (and certainly sesame seeds, too, for that matter).

On many occasions, the toppings you see will depend on the region in Japan from which the ramen hails.

REGIONAL STYLES

Japanese ramen varies greatly by region. Some areas focus on thinner fish- and seaweed-based broths, while others tend to be hearty and thick animal bone soups. I’ve highlighted some of the regional styles below, alphabetically:

Akayu: A sweet and mild ramen soup is topped with a spicy dollup of miso mixed with chili and garlic. Chewy, thick, wavy noodles grace this style, and it is usually served with powdered seaweed as well.

Asahikawa: Asahikawa is Hokkaido’s second-largest city, and is located at the base of the mountains in the middle of the island. Its ramen is a mix of chicken, pork and seafood broth, with a shoyu base. The soup is topped with a layer of melted pork fat to seal in the soup’s heat in the colder months, as well as pork meat, bamboo shoots and scallions.

Hakata: Also known as Nagahama ramen, this style comes from Fukuoka, a prefecture in Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, which is famous for its pork dishes. This is my favorite of ramen styles, because it is a thick, fatty, pork bone broth with thin, al-dente noodles. Toppings usually include sesame seeds, pink pickled ginger and fried garlic.

Hakodate: Ramen arrived in Hakodate from China. The soup is thin and light, and the shio-seasoned broth had a mild pork and chicken base. Noodles are usually soft, with toppings like roast pork, bamboo shoots, scallions, nori, fish cakes and spinach.

Kagoshima: Kagoshima is known for its Berkshire pork-like black pigs, yet the ramen is a mild mix of both veggies and chicken, combined with the black pork bone stock. The broth then gets finished off with burnt onions and seasoned with soy sauce. The noodles are soft, and toppings consist of pork meat (obviously), scallions, wood ear mushrooms (kikurage) and bean sprouts.

Kitakata: Kitakata is famous for a clean, light soy-based breakfast soup. In the bowl there’s usually a serving of chewy, wide, flat and curly hand-cut noodles with pork, scallions and bamboo shoots.

Kumamoto: When tonkotsu ramen arrived in Kumamoto prefecture from Kurume, the locals started cutting it with chicken broth. It’s also served with straight noodles, though they’re softer and thicker than the Kurume style. Most bowls have pickled mustard greens, sliced wood-ear mushrooms, bean sprouts, and cabbage on top, but the unique thing about Kumamoto ramen is the use of garlic. You’ll see fried garlic chips and mayu, the black liquid made from garlic that’s been burned in sesame oil. That shit is delicious.

Kurume: This town on the southern island of Kyushu is the birthplace of tonkotsu. Melted bone marrow, fried lard, sesame seeds, pickled ginger and garlic give Kurume ramen a unique and pungent style. Toppings include pork meat, scallions, nori, and spicy mustard greens, in addition to those just mentioned above.

Kyoto: Kyoto’s home to two distinct types of ramen: a thinner assari shoyu ramen, and a thick kotteri chicken soup. The thin version is a blend of pork and chicken broth, with a dark soy base. The thick version is a rich porridge-like chicken soup, topped with garlic, spicy bean paste, chives and odoriferous local onions called kujnoegi. Both are seasoned with shoyu, but the toppings vary for each.

Nagoya “Taiwan” Ramen: “Taiwan Ramen” is Nagoya’s reimagined version of Taiwanese danzimian, which has lots of ground pork, Chinese chives, hot peppers, green onions and garlic. This shit is for people who like spicy soup.

Onomichi: Take a bit of pork, a heap of chicken, some local seafood and a big mess of lard and you’ve got Onomichi ramen. The soup has a shoyu base and is served with chewy, homemade, wavy, flat noodles. It’s usually topped with roast pork, bamboo shoots, scallions and pork fat.

Sapporo: Sapporo-style ramen hails from Japan’s northernmost province, Hokkaido, which is the birthplace of miso ramen. Sapporo miso ramen generally has thick, strong noodles and is commonly topped with bean sprouts, sweet corn, cabbage and ground pork. Soft boiled eggs and thick slices of chashu pork are also common, as well as pats of butter.

Shirakawa: This town developed a refined ramen typified by light, simple soup and hand pulled noodles. It features a shoyu broth, but local mineral ­water makes for springy noodles with a good chew. Toppings include roast pork, bamboo shoots, fish cake, scallions, seaweed, spinach and even wontons.

Tokushima: Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, and udon is the preferred noodle. But Tokushima prefecture has an aged, extra strong shoyu soup that originated with tonkotsu stocks made from leftover pork bones from nearby ham factories. This is similar to Wakayama ramen. Ramen shops here will add a few strips of thinly sliced pork belly and break a raw egg on top. Tokushima ramen is sometimes divided into “yellow,” “black,” and “white” styles (how racist) of varying strengths. Other toppings for this ramen consist of scallions, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts.

Tokyo: This ramen is usually made with pork and chicken broth and typically features slightly curly, somewhat wide noodles. Very often in Toyko you’ll find broths that are flavored with dashi (broth made from aged bonito flakes and sea kelp). This style of ramen is generally seasoned with shoyu and has a medium-thickness. It’s similar to Yokohama ramen, though that tends to be heavier and meatier than the dashi broths of Tokyo ramen.

Tsubame-Sanjo: The cities of Tsubame and Sanjo are in a freezing cold area, and the ramen from this spot is bizarre and unhealthy. The hearty stock is made of chicken, sardines and pork bones, and the bowls are blasted with tons of pork fat (common in soups from the colder climates). There’s thick, flat noodles in this shoyu-based soup, and toppings include pork meat, bamboo shoots and lots of chopped white onions.

Wakayama: This is the median between thick, rich tonkotsu, and thin, clear broth. Wakayama ramen has a strong shoyu tare seasoning with a long-simmered tonkotsu base. The noodles resemble the thin, firm and long threads of Hakata style ramen, but you also get fish cakes like those in Tokyo style ramen. These soups are also topped with the seemingly ever-present and most common of toppings: roast pork, scallions and bamboo shoots.

Yokohama Ie-Kei: Yokohama is known for ie-kei ramen, a viscous, salty, and fatty tonkotsu shoyu style of ramen. When ordering, diners can designate how firm they want their noodles, the amount of fat they like on top, and the saltiness or strength of the soup. This is my kind of ramen – catering specifically to each unique diner. The toppings for this style of ramen usually include sheets of nori (seaweed paper), spinach, garlic, spicy bean paste and ginger.

RAMEN-LIKE DISHES

Although these dishes are not quite ramen, they’ll still be able to satisfy the most intense need for a ramen fix.

Abura Soba: The name of this soupless noodle dish translates to “oil noodles.” It consists of cooked ramen noodles dressed with flavored oil and tare (usually shoyu). It often comes topped with an egg, and diners are meant to stir everything together in the bowl to form a creamy, fatty, thickened sauce. One can also add vinegar, chili oil and other shit before slurping. Hot peppers, mayonnaise, fried noodles, chopped garlic and pork fat are also crowd favorites to add in.

Chanpon: This originated in Nagasaki and is made by boiling thick noodles directly in a thick pork and seafood soup. It’s viscous, and eats more like stew than ramen.

Hiyashi Chuka: This literally means “cold Chinese.” As such it’s a dish made with cold ramen noodles and various toppings like fried egg, ham, carrot, cucumber and chicken. It is usually dressed in a light soy-vinegar sauce. I’ve even seen fish sauce used in some versions around NYC.

Mazemen: This is a hearty “dry” ramen, characterized by thick noodles and weird toppings like cheese. Similar to Abura Soba, this is essentially cooked noodles with a small amount of strongly flavored sauce on the side for dipping. Toppings and sauces can vary a great deal, and are often experimental in nature.

Tantan-Men: This is an off-shoot of Chinese dandan noodles. Based on a pork broth, it comes with a scoop of heavily spiced ground pork and is generally served with bok choy and/or spinach.

Tsukemen: This, like Mazemen, is also a “dipping” ramen. Cold, undressed (nekkit) noodles are served alongside a hot, concentrated ramen broth. You dip the noodles into a bowl of broth as you eat, grabbing the toppings whenever you choose to.

Yakisoba: This is the Japanese version of Chinese fried noodles. It’s made with egg noodles that get stir-fried with veggies and occasionally meat or seafood. This shit then gets hit with a Worcestershire style anchovy and vegetable sauce. It’s often topped with shaved bonito flakes and pickled ginger (beni shoga).

FUSION RAMEN

All around NYC we are seeing various kinds of fusion ramen items being offered, which makes a lot of sense given that the history of ramen in Japan involves a lot of Japanese-Chinese fusion.

However some of the more wild examples I’ve seen in NYC include:

Korean-inspired kimchi ramen (Mokbar):

Thai green curry ramen (Bassanova):

Flavors common to Burmese cuisine that feature coconut milk in the broth base (Tabata):

Indian-inspired massaman curry ramen, even complete with potatoes and carrots and (Yasha):

Italian spaghetti ramen, with pepper oil, arugula and crispy porchetta (Maialino):

Thanksgiving turkey ramen, with gravy, mushrooms, stuffing and cranberries, of course (Talde):

And Jamaican jerk chicken ramen (Miss Lily’s 9A):

There are even ramen burgers (L&L Drive Inn, among others)…

…and now ramen cake (courtesy of my wife, The Cake Dealer).

So that about does it here. If ramen isn’t your thing, but soup most definitely IS your thing, as a general matter, then there’s always pho, bun bo hue and laksa out there to soothe your hot soup needs in the cold winter weather that’s about to strike.

El Colmado Butchery

My wife and I strolled into this joint after reading about some of the stuff they had going on. We had already just eaten lunch, so we only dabbled into some snack items. However, it is worth writing up because they offer a lot of really awesome deals and humble items for such an overpriced and pretentious area of the city (Meatpacking). When we walked up at about 4pm, there was actually a bouncer from Brass Monkey preventing people in line from blocking the El Colmado door. That’s a bit early to be queueing up on a Saturday…

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Check it out. We tried the “bone broth,” which technically should be called a stock since it is made from bones and not just meat. Since this item is becoming a big food trend lately, I really hope that people learn the lingo and stop calling it a “bone broth.” If bones are used, it’s a fuckin’ stock.

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It was pretty tasty. A bit salty, perhaps over-reduced or too concentrated, but the flavors were reminiscent of pho because of some of the spices used, like clove or perhaps cinnamon.

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Next we had a pair of smoked deviled eggs. I thought it was okay, but my wife wasn’t a fan of the texture and consistency. These were $2 a piece (pictured below are two pieces, one full egg – $4).

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The coolest part of eating here was that our seats at the counter were placed in front of the glass case of butcher style offerings. Take a look at what we were sitting above:

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el colmado duck

el colmado lamb

el colmado pancetta

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The counter top has all sorts of savory candies in jars too, like jerky and olives:

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I certainly need to get back down here when I have a bigger appetite.

EL COLMADO BUTCHERY IS CLOSED

Obao

I’ll definitely be heading back to this part-Thai, part-Vietnamese joint VERY soon. My wife and I dropped in to sample some of their noodle soups. We were greeted by a gigantic bar.

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But we first stated with an app of fried tofu.

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These were awesome. If this is what being a loser vegetarian is like, then I’m in! They were coated with a nice and tangy lime-fish sauce, but still retained their great crisp coating.

The soups were all amazing. I had heard great things about the pho here, so I had to give that a try.

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This baby was LOADED with beef brisket and eye round. You can add meatballs for an extra $2.

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The pho was good, but the noodles were a bit busted up and not the best quality. When tasting it side-by-side to the bun bo hue, there was just no comparison.

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This “Vietnamese ramen” was jammed up with generous portions of thick-cut, soft, juicy pork belly AND thin sliced beef brisket. The noodles were a soft, thick buckwheat style.

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The tangy bun bo hue broth was contrasted with the milky-white, creamy laksa broth.

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This, too, was PACKED with meat. This soup came with thick sliced pork belly and jumbo shrimp – both of which were cooked to perfection.

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It’s tough for me to choose a favorite between the bun bo hue and the laksa. Regardless of which you choose, you will be a happy eater.

UPDATE 1/31/15

As promised, I returned to try some more shit. First, a pair of really nice apps.

Sambal spiced fried squid. These were really tasty. Perfectly cooked, although the breading was a little soggy due to the drizzle of fish sauce.

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The other was pork rib wrapped around sugar cane. This was excellent. The meat was similar to a braised belly more than what I expect from rib meat. The sugar cane was not quite as sweet as I had hoped.

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For the entrees we tried the Southeast Asian fried rice, which included shrimp, pineapple, tomato, onion, and Chinese sausage. I liked this a lot, though there were too many large pieces of tomato.

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The other entree was Pad Kee Mow, or “drunken noodle.” When put up side-by-side to nearby Noodie’s version of this dish, I would shave to choose Noodies. That doesn’t mean this dish isn’t good, however. Quite the contrary – it was delicious. But Noodies has ground shrimp in the dish in addition to the chicken, so that just takes it up a notch over this one.

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OBAO
647 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10036

Bring Home the Bone

As you know, I eat a lot of steak and consume large quantities of meat. If Conehead is to Johnny Prime, then beer and chicken embryos is to rib eyes and porterhouses.

As you might imagine, my steaks and meats are often still connected to some kind of bone when they come to the table.

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“Bring Home the Bone” is a project of mine that’s meant to keep that meaty, beefy, steakhouse goodness going all week long, after the meal has concluded. I’ve even seen this starting to become a trend in the food world, with a few articles discussing the idea.

Chow article.

NY Times article.

Some places just serve broths now. There’s even a video about it too:

What exactly happens in my BHTB initiative? This isn’t fucking rocket science, people. I take home the scraps and bones in a doggy bag. If we get a bone marrow app, the bones get packed. If I eat a bone-in rib eye, or a porterhouse for two, I’m taking those fucking bones home.

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It’s a great way to conserve and save too. Shit is expensive these days, even the offal, less common/cheap-o cuts and bone bits are pricey at the grocery store – especially marrow. People are waking up to how good these things can be if put to the right use. The market is responding to the demand and costs are rising. And there’s simple inflation as well.

So what am I making with the bones and scraps?

BROTH/STOCK

According to the great Alton Brown, a broth is a liquid that has had meat cooking in it, and a stock has to be made from bones. In most cases, I’m making a broth or stock, but in the case of BHTB it is stock. Boil the bones and scraps with some other herbs and spices, add a little salt, and after a while you can strain it off into a container to use later as a soup base. Some flavors I like to play around with are what I like to call “faux-pho,” which is star anise, cloves, cinnamon and sometimes cardamom. Add noodles and some of your own thinly sliced eye round and you’re set for a delicious meal.

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If not, even a hot cup of clarified broth is sometimes enough to do the trick, especially in winter. Hot beef liquid is better than coffee, tea or hot chocolate in my opinion. More nutritious too.

SAUCES/GELATINS/FATS

In other situations, I’ll make a sauce or concentrated beef gelatin of some kind. Essentially this means I just keep reducing the above broth until it becomes less liquid. I don’t do anything to thicken, solidify or gel up the base other than to keep boiling. The fat, marrow, gristle and cartilage break down into collagen and blend into the water and these substances will naturally thicken on their own. Most times, when I do this, I pop the stuff into the fridge and the liquid gels up into a substance that is more like jello than liquid. I can then scoop or spoon that out to use as a flavoring or cooking agent while cooking something in a pan, or to coat some pasta after boiling, during the saucing phase.

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Here’s a shot of a friend’s process. His bones cooked for a few days. Look at the delicious jelly-like stuff:

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Here’s his recipe:

  • ~15 pounds of Frozen grass-fed beef marrow bones
  • ~8 frozen chicken feet (from local farm, pasture raised chickens)
  • Fresh thyme (whole package from grocery store)
  • ~10 Fresh Bay Leaves
  • 2 Onions
  • ~ 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

He filled the 20 quart pot up with water to the top. He put in enough bones to reach the top of the 20 qt pot, then applied water to match the top of the bone level.

On the second day he added in two 8oz beef shanks to add some more meat flavor.  He noticed an improvement to the broth on the second day.  First day was mostly clear, second day turned a golden color.

While cooking he was skimming off the fat, and removed roughly 48 oz of fat from the top of the pot over the course of 2 days.

The fat also rises to the top in the fridge and naturally separates from the beef gel or stock. You can sometimes lift it away with your fingers and put the solidified fat into a separate container. I use this like I would use butter or olive oil. Beef fat is a great way to grease your pan for cooking eggs, cornbread or whatever. Even better if you’re using pork bones in your “Bring Home the Bone” endeavors. The fat is softer.

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STEWS/LEGUMES/GRAINS

It’s always good to add a bone of some kind when you’re making barley, stewed beans or lentils, rice or even something like split pea soup. Throwing in a ham hock, or a bone with some bits of meat still clinging to it, is an excellent way to add flavor and depth to all these items.

In it’s simplest form, you can just gather all your bones and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven to punch up the flavors.

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Once your house or apartment smells amazing, take them out and put them into a pot with some onions, garlic, and whatever spices you want. Boil or simmer for several hours, at least until all the excess scrap meat comes off the bones and is falling apart with the touch of a fork or stirring spoon.

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Pretty simple, right? Bring home the fucking bone, yo.

99 Favor Taste

Me, my wife and some friends hit this hot pot joint for a late night meal. It was absolutely amazing. For $19 you can order as much as you want, all you can eat, and BYOB. They’ll charge you an overage if you waste food, but everything is so delicious that you likely won’t have too much left at the end of the meal. SOMEONE will eat it all. That someone was me last night.

We went with a spicy broth AND a pork bone broth. Both were excellent. The spicy broth will numb you up if you hit on some of the peppercorns. Otherwise it isn’t too spicy to the point where you are sweating. The pig bone broth was rich and flavorful; really hearty.

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They bring out some Korean and Japanese type snacks first: soy beans, kimchi, and pickled items.

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While waiting for your broth to boil, you go mix up some sauces to dip your meats into once they are cooked.

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We went with pig brains, tripe, fish balls, squid, fried tofu skin, lamb, beef, boo choy and mushrooms. Check it out:

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Cook that shit up!

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This place is a ton of fun with a big group. Get your ass down there and enjoy yourselves. BE HUNGRY!

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99 FAVOR TASTE
285 Grand St.
New York, NY 10002

Homemade Ramen – Just Like The Real Thing

My wife recently went to a food expo at the Javitz Center, where she sampled some ramen that contained black garlic oil. She was blown away by it, so naturally I started looking for black garlic oil online. I couldn’t find anything like a bottle of it. But I DID find this on Amazon, so I ordered it:

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I figured it can’t be any worse than Maruchan, right? Shit – maybe it would even be good.

So the shipment came. I had a serious hankering for good hearty ramen, REAL ramen, but I didn’t feel like getting back on the train to the city to go find a decent bowl (there’s nothing good out on Long Island in terms of ramen – same goes for pho and Vietnamese food in general). So I decided to doll-up some of this instant ramen with some ground pork and various other cuts of pork.

What you see below is center cut pork chops (top/back), boneless country style pork ribs (center) and pork belly (the ground pork was not pictured). That slab of bacon isn’t anything special either, by the way. My grocery store doesn’t normally sell big hunks of pork belly, so I picked up a $4 package of Hormel brand “salt pork.” I figured if I cooked it correctly, it would taste like the real thing.

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So what did I do to the meat? I prepared the pork by using a slow cooker for about 6 hours on low. I filled the pot with about a half cup of soy sauce, 2 Tbsp duck sauce, 2 Tbsp sugar in the raw simple syrup, 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice, a stick of cinnamon along with a few shakes of ground cinnamon, 3 red chili peppers, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp ginger powder, a few shakes of garlic powder, 1 tsp Sriracha sauce, a shake of nutmeg, 1 roughly cut scallion shoot, and about 8 or 10 cloves. I whisked it all together with 2.5 pints of water. At first I was thinking this was too much liquid, but as it turns out it was just the right amount. You’ll see why later.

Then all I had to do was wait… But I bore easily. So I went out and got a little drunk with some friends at a local St. Patrick’s Day parade. There’s nothing quite like day-drinking. My wife was at a baby shower, so I would have just been sitting around playing with myself or watching horror flicks anyway. She picked me up after the shower and the timing was perfect. I came home to this, which I scooped out of the slow cooker:

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I tasted it. Holy shit. Fucking perfect! Four beers and two shots didn’t take me off my cooking game, either. With all that excess slow-cooker liquid that I thought was too much, I decided to make a concentrated reduction to use later on as a dressing of sorts for plain noodles, or for SOMETHING. I’d figure out a way to use it because it was delicious. But then I had this brilliant idea to make the freeze-dried instant ramen noodles taste better: I boiled them in the slow-cooker liquid as it reduced. As a bonus, the starch helped to thicken the reduction as well.

In the meantime I cooked the ground pork with soy sauce and garlic, and made the ramen broth, which essentially was just the seasoning packets from the ramen package + water + heat. I also sliced some fresh scallions and some baby bella mushrooms for garnish, and sliced some boiled eggs that we already had in the fridge.

When we put it all together, we popped open the little package of elusive black garlic oil. Here’s the end result:

20140308_184701_LLS 20140308_184413_LLS 20140308_184200_LLS

It came out a slight bit salty, so next time I will adjust seasonings accordingly. But if I ordered this in a NYC ramen shop for $15 I would be none the wiser that it was made with instant packets, and I would love it.

Flushing & Shabu Shabu

We, my wife, and a friend took a trip to Flushing to explore some of the great food joints in the area – this was a while back, in mid 2012.

It’s kind of like a food paradise here. There are secret, hidden indoor (and sometimes underground) malls of food kiosks tucked away in unassuming buildings. Check out some of the pics:

street scene
street scene
kiosk menu
kiosk menu
tables in underground food mall
tables in underground food mall
noodle maker
noodle maker

After some wandering, we ended up trying hot pot at Baidu Shabu Shabu. I think it was like $25-$35pp all you can eat, and all you can drink beer. We got the spicy pot, and a shit-heap of different stuff to throw in, like lamb, beef tongue, beef brisket, beef rib eye, beef belly, pork belly, a host of veggies, and noodles. Needless to say we were fattened up like pigs afterward. I recommend this place – lots of fun. Check out the pics:

flushing hot pot 3 flushing hot pot 2 flushing hot pot 1

Okay so fast-forward over a year later. My wife is feeling sick. We were about to go back to Flushing just to get some soup, but we ended up finding out about a tiny little place called Tao’s Delicacies out on Long Island that we were interested to try out. Turns out it was pretty legit, and $25pp all you can eat, with unlimited soda/canned drinks. They had quality beef stomach, lotus root, mushrooms, shrimp (with the heads on), fish balls with pork inside, veggies, and even tofu skin (my favorite). If you are out on the island, and feel up for the experience of eating in someone’s living room, then check out this hidden gem of a restaurant. Pics below:

broth
broth
meat & veg
meat & veg
seafood, tofu & veg
seafood, tofu & veg

BAIDU SHABU SHABU
37-04 Prince St.
Flushing, NY 11354

TAO’S DELICACIES
1310 Middle Country Rd.
Selden, NY 11784