…I’m making ramen for dinner.

One of my projects during the pandemic was learning to make better ramen. I’m pleased to say I’ve come a long way. I can genuinely say I make a better bowl than the ramen shop nearby.

Today I’m doing ramen for dinner, because my kids specifically asked for it. It’s one of the precious few dishes they both agree to eat readily, vegetables and all, with no argument.

I should probably share a recipe, but that’s not really the point. Ramen is versatile. You do whatever you want with it. I’ve opted for a relatively heavy broth, made from homemade stock, miso paste, dashi no moto, and Steak-umms for added body. I’ve learned the perfect method to make soft boiled eggs that peel easily*. I’ve learned to make pickled cabbage. And I’ve experimented with all the vegetables. Ramen is never the exact same twice but it’s always better now than it was before the pandemic, so any day we can eat it is a day worth having.

*Alright, I’ll share this part since it’s way easy and the internet is full of lies about how to do this. Ignore all other egg boiling advice. This is the real shit.

1. Boil your water. Like, a rapid, bubbling, scary hot boil.

2. Add the eggs and boil uncovered for one minute.

3. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Leave for five minutes for a soft boil. Six for medium, seven for hard.

4. Drain and remove the eggs from heat. Ideally you’d put them in a water bath (ice is not required, no matter what the internet tells you), but the main thing is just to get them out of the hot water so they stop cooking. I use room temperature water for this part and it’s always fine.

5. Wait like another five minutes or so and then go nuts. Add to your marinade of choice, or don’t. It’s up to you.

The main thing is: boil your water first and then add the eggs. Nothing else you do matters as much as this. There are subtle things you can tweak to improve it, but all other advice about easy-peel eggs is bullshit. I’ve tried it all, nothing else matters. Age, alkalinity, acidity, poking a little hole in the bottom – none of that is worth a goddamn if you don’t start off with a raging boil bereft of eggs.

The reason is that the egg has a membrane inside that will stick to both the shell and the rest of the egg if you bring it up to temperature gradually. On the other hand, if you dump an egg into a rapid boil, you’re basically shock-cooking the membrane so it sticks to the shell before the egg cooks. So by the time the albumen firms up, the membrane will no longer be “sticky.” Then the membrane / shell fusion slides right off once you get a fingernail under it.

I do recommend using room temperature eggs, but not for any special reason except that they don’t bring down them temperature of your water when you add them. You can boil eggs right out of the fridge, no problem, but you need to use a bunch more water so the pot keeps its temperature up.

And I know this isn’t something I invented or anything like that, so I’m not sharing an industry secret or something. But have you ever googled “how to boil an egg” before? It’s just a ton of bullcrap. Don’t waste your time. Baking soda ain’t gonna do shit.

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