Food and Food: Asia and Food: Home Cookin' and japan28 Apr 2013 02:34 pm

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.

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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.

4 Responses to “A Good Bowl of Ramen is Hard to Find”

  1. on 06 May 2013 at 10:22 am sarra

    oh. my. god. whenever I think you can’t be more of my hero, you’re like, “Fuck you, I’m making ramen from scratch.”

  2. on 14 May 2013 at 7:02 am Evan

    Funnily enough I was just telling Chris how much I am fiending for a good ramen fix. I think i will follow your lead and get some broth brewing this week!

  3. on 21 May 2013 at 8:26 am WSL

    Whatever happened to your Eating Okinawa site? I was really hoping to rely on it as a resource there.

  4. on 22 May 2013 at 3:21 am Kelly

    WSL, after I moved away it was too hard to keep updates going on the constantly changing restaurant scene there, so I didn’t renew the hosting on the domain. I still have the posts and some are on this site, but I might transfer them all over. I went back in March this year though, and many of the restaurants I wrote about have closed though, so a lot of the info is irrelevant and totally useless.

    If you need to find restaurants anywhere in Japan, I encourage you to use Tabelog. It’s great.