Although the Bow Valley has a large population of Japanese working and traveling through the area, the one place you can get a bowl of ramen at in Banff (Chaya) is just kind of ho-hum. It’ll do in a pinch, but it’s also a good 20 minute drive from Canmore.

Since coming home from my whirlwind trip to Japan in March (oh, I haven’t blogged about that, have I? Well, soon) I’ve been kind of obsessed with home cooking Japanese food. (And juicing, but more on that later.)  I had to explain to a US customs officer on my trip home why I had 5 pounds of Japanese rice on me. “Can’t you just use Minute Rice?” he asked.

SHUDDER

I’ve been making taco rice, Japanese curry, yakiudon and okonomiyaki and all sorts of stuff, trying to fill the void. Experimenting with different condiments, flavours, techniques.

However, the thing I am most proud of is my from scratch ramen which I made this week. Everything except the noodles and kamaboko or fish cake was made by hand. 5 pounds of chicken, turkey and pig parts were boiled for 18 hours to reduce into a creamy tonkotsu soup base.

I broiled then braised pork belly for three hours to replicate Okinawan rafute, a super tender, kind of sweet pork. It’s marinaded and slow cooked in mirin, awamori and soy, along with kokuto or Okinawan sugar cane brown sugar. I soft boiled then bathed eggs in a marinade to get ajitsuke tamago, the runny delicious eggs that accompany steaming bowls of ramen – that is, if you are eating it at any respectable place.

If I’m being honest, I’ll say that the broth had an excellent jellylike thick texture, but I really underseasoned it. But I think the thing that turned out the best was the rafute. It’s something that’s hard to find outside of Okinawa – not just in other parts of the world, also in Japan. I guess it’s similar to char siu pork that often tops bowls of ramen, but yet it’s not.

You should come by and try it sometime. I promise you’ll like it.

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The broth at the start, in our biggest of big pots.

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Bowl of bones, fat and other assorted parts after I was done boiling.

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The delicious finished product.