I cannot stop thinking about Japan and the profound sadness of the situation there. Japan is one of my favorite countries to visit for many reasons, not the least of which is its unique cuisine.
Japanese cooking is characterized by restraint and elegance. Their chefs, continually in the pursuit of precision, are infamous for spending years training to make one thing. This painstaking attention to detail must be the reason why I have not had a single bad meal anywhere in Japan. Though most of their dishes are rather minimalist, designed to allow the component’s intrinsic flavors to emerge, there are occasions when Japanese food is more unrestrained. This recipe is inspired by a noodle soup I had one late night in a tiny Tokyo spot near Shinjuku Station. The kind of place where orders are entered in a vending machine and the preparation is a one-man show.
Instant ramen noodles, the dorm-room staple, have a bad reputation for being unhealthy and a more than a bit déclassé. But, with a few extra ingredients, they transform into elegant fare. The addition of a little tahini and chili sauce adds body and flavor to the broth. The fried egg, seaweed and vegetables turn a snack into a square meal. Though Japanese or Korean ramen is preferable, any packet will do.* What makes this recipe so versatile is that you can add anything that happens to be in the fridge –bits of vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc… It only takes five minutes to prepare and can be the perfect meal for one.
Unfortunately, I think it will be a while before everyone, especially those directly affected by this calamity, move on. However, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has faith that the Japanese way of life will allow them to overcome this tragedy and in the process be a source of inspiration to us all.
Sesame Ramen Noodle Soup
- 1 packet of Ramen noodles, preferably Korean or Japanese
- 2 tblsp of dried seaweed
- 2 tblsp of tahini paste
- 1 tsp of hot chili sauce, like Sriracha
- 3 -5 bok choy leaves, steamed
- 1 fried egg
- 1 tblsp sliced scallions
- Few drops of sesame oil
1. Prepare the broth according to the package directions.
2. Before adding the noodles, stir in the dried seaweed, tahini paste and chili sauce
3. Add the noodles and bring the soup to a boil until the noodles are cooked but still firm.
*Japanese and Korean products can be found in the supermarket above Safestway on Sheikh Zayed Road, and some Waitrose outlets.