The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Cover to Cover Challenge 2013 – Shoyu Ramen

I recently participated in the 2013 Cover to Cover Challenge hosted by The Bitten Word    where their readers collectively made all 47 recipes in the September issue of Bon Appétit.   Those who signed up for the challenge were assigned to one of the dishes to make as faithfully to the recipe as possible and then reported back to the site.

I actually thought of a funner cover-to-cover challenge for all my readers to participate in – The Kama Sutra.  I won’t post any of the pictures because this is a family site.  But feel free to send them to me anyway.

When I signed up for the food challenge, I was asked if I had any dietary restrictions or allergies that needed to be considered in the assignment process.  My response –

Don’t you dare give me no fool vegan recipe or I’ll go over there and shove a trussing needle through your nipples!

OK, I was a little nicer but that’s pretty much the spirit of what I said.

I know that veganism isn’t really something you can be allergic to.  And it probably makes sense from a health perspective to adopt elements of veganism.  But I’d rather eat construction-grade 1×6 pine boards than a seitan Sloppy Joe or Tofurkey.  And I’d be damned if I’m going to go out and BUY the ingredients to make that shit and have it take up precious fridge space.

Luckily they gave me Shoyu Ramen, a complex, multi-layered noodle soup.  This was right up my alley because I love me some good REAL ramen.  This isn’t the  $0.35 packaged ramen that, along with beer, is the staple of a college student’s existence.  While college ramen takes about 2-3 minutes to make, the real stuff is a three-day process and has a lot of ingredients.  It sounds daunting, but each step was REALLY easy and almost effortless.

The toughest part for me was finding all the ingredients at the Asian market.  It’s funny, the Chinese make every conceivable consumer good known to man but they don’t know jack about product labeling.  And forget about asking the owner if “fermented bamboo shoots” is the same as “salined bamboo shoots.”  Once you do find everything and spend the three days making this, you’lll be rewarded with a terrific soup with many distinct flavors and textures all shining through.

For more on the challenge, check out the Cover to Cover 2013 Kickoff post.


Shoyu Ramen

There a lot of steps and ingredients to this thing, so I’m going to through the major steps.  The full recipe can be found here.

Day 1 – Make the tare (soy sauce, sake, and mirin) that gets mixed in the soup at the last minute.  I’m sure the individual ingredients can be added straight to the soup, but I think someone had a hankering for project management.  What’s REALLY has to happen on the first day is to make the Dashi.  All that’s needed there is to steep the Kombu (dried kelp) in cold water for 8-12 hours.

Ramen Kombu

Asian soup recipe

When done, you’ll get brown water…

Ramen Dashi food

Seriously, I tasted this and was expecting it to be fishy or ocean-like –  it wasn’t. The flavor was really subtle and earthy.  It’s used to make the stock on…

Day 2 –  You roll up some boneless pork shoulder and brown it.  Then you add chicken, spareribs, scallions, carrots, garlic, ginger, and bonito flakes along with the Dashi to a pot to make the stock.

Ramen stock

food blogs

Here’s where I strayed from the recipe.  It says to discard the spareribs and chicken when the stock is done as it’s not needed in the final product.  As I read that I could hear my frugal mom’s voice in my head telling me what a waste that was.  And I’m sure that the country-folk on the other side of the globe wouldn’t dare waste that stuff, either.  So I pulled the meat off the bones and fried it up with some salt and cayenne pepper for some awesome taco filling.

Day 3 – Cook the noodles in boiling water and then make the 7-minute eggs.

I'm sooooo going to start making these more.

I’m sooooo going to start making these more.


Start getting all the other garnishes in place – the rolled and sliced pork shoulder, bamboo shoots, scallions, and nori sheets. Heat up the stock until really hot and then add the tare.

Ramen garnishes


Assembly – Put the pork and noodles in bowls, ladel the stock on it and then add the garnishes.  Have some chili oil, sesame oil, and togarishi (Japanese chili powder) available for further seasoning.

Ramen Final


Like I said, it’s a long process with a lot of ingredients and many steps.  But the ingredients are cheap and the stuff that gets leftover – the kombu, nori, togarishi – will keep forever.   As for all the steps, none of them require a lot of skill or expertise.  There’s some temptation to cut corners like skipping the dashi or cooking the noodles in the stock itself.  Don’t do it.  The beauty of the soup is how all of the individual flavors and textures are there yet harmonize to create the overall flavor.

This was definitely fun and I’m looking forward to the next one.

chinese soup recipe

delicious soup

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

18 comments on “Cover to Cover Challenge 2013 – Shoyu Ramen

  1. talkavino
    September 19, 2013

    I’m very impressed. First, by your love of veganism, and second, by the 3 days cooking process for a soup. Cassoulet is the longest I can engage in a cooking process for one dish, and it takes about 24 hours. But of course I would love to taste your Ramen soup : )

  2. the drunken cyclist
    September 19, 2013

    Vegans. Weren’t they the villains on Star Trek?

  3. PinotNinja
    September 19, 2013

    That looks amazing! You know what else is amazing, that you found a way to work the world’s highest food form — the taco — into the recipe. Because the only way to always make a recipe better is to add a taco.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 19, 2013

      I’m more of a burrito fan myself but I’m starting to appreciate the intricacies of a good taco. It’s like a burrito is a big Napa Valley Cabernet and tacos are like delicate, haunting Pinots.

      Shit, now in hungry. And thirsty.

  4. Yinzerella
    September 19, 2013

    You get invited to do fancy-schmancy food challenges 😛
    Looks good.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 19, 2013

      Thx! It was an open invitation. So I say u participate in next year and put ur retro twist on it. Then say u misread 2014 as 1974.

  5. Now Entering Flavor Country
    September 19, 2013

    I’m all over this. Yum.

  6. the winegetter
    September 19, 2013

    What a cool challenge, and what an awesome recipe. Looks absolutely fantastic!

  7. ksbeth
    September 19, 2013

    such a cool project – happy you didn’t shortcut

  8. Pingback: MWWC #3 – Wine and Sarah McLachlan | The Food and Wine Hedonist

  9. a2sicilian
    September 20, 2013

    Yum. I absolutely love an authentic ramen. So tell us about the 7-min eggs.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 20, 2013

      You boil em for 7 minutes.

      They were awesome. The whites were set and the yolks were silky/jammy. Mani has them breaded with their Caesar salad where u break it open and the yolk creates a dressing. Soooo delicious.

  10. a2sicilian
    September 20, 2013

    Okay I know how i’m going to make my next caesar salad…

  11. Pingback: My Favorites from 2013 | The Food and Wine Hedonist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 19, 2013 by in Cooking and tagged , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: