Following on from her much-loved debut book, OSTRO, the queen of uncomplicated, unfussy cooking Julia Busuttil Nishimura, has released a new recipe book focusing on simple, seasonal family food. Here, Julia shares her version of chicken soup for the soul – a refreshing, spring-appropriate miso ramen, with handmade noodles (how fancy!). Sourdough is so last month – banish the banneton (for now) and sling some soup for your favourite people instead.
“Ramen can be very time-consuming to prepare and involves putting a lot of effort into the base broth. Here, I suggest a lighter and, by comparison, faster route, which suits us at home. The soup has a chicken base, which means you can use chicken broth from your freezer or store-bought broth. I use bones and pieces for the broth, but a whole chicken works well, too. I make the noodles at home as it can be difficult to source good-quality ramen noodles and I do love the action of making them – but of course you can buy them if you’re short on time. Whether you make everything from scratch or take a few short cuts, this is a wonderful version for home and one that won’t have you in the kitchen for three days. I like to make double the amount of the tare (seasoning) and top the poached chicken with a small dollop when serving. Another step to add more flavour is to grill the cob of corn until it is slightly charred – it will add a nice smokiness to the ramen once the kernels are in the broth. A little sprinkling of crushed black sesame seeds is nice, too. You’ll need to start this recipe the day before to marinate the eggs.” – Julia Busuttil Nishimura from A Year of Simple Family Food.
iced water, for refreshing
2 1⁄2 tablespoons light soy sauce
100 ml mirin
1 chicken frame
4 chicken wings
2 bone-in chicken thighs (about 300 g in total)
3 cm piece of ginger, sliced
2 garlic cloves, bruised
1 spring onion
400 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
21⁄2 tablespoons warm water
100 g white miso paste
1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus extra if needed
2 teaspoons sugar, plus extra if needed
2 teaspoons sea salt, plus extra if needed
2 teaspoons saké, plus extra if needed
2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus extra if needed
2.5cm piece of ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
sliced spring onion
grilled corn kernels
For the soy eggs, cook the eggs in a small saucepan of simmering water for 6 minutes. Plunge the eggs into iced water for 3 minutes, then carefully peel and place in a small container. Bring the soy and mirin to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour over the eggs. Allow to cool, then cover and set aside in the fridge for at least 1 day to marinate.
For the broth, place all the ingredients in a stockpot, cover with 1.2 litres of water and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cover so the stock is barely simmering. Skim any impurities from the surface as they arise and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the thighs and reserve, then continue cooking the broth for 1 hour. Strain, discarding the bones and aromatics. You can use the broth immediately or transfer it to an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To make the dough for the noodles, tip the flour, baking powder and salt onto a clean work surface and mix with your hands so that everything is evenly distributed. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Gently whisk the eggs using a fork and drizzle in the warm water. Slowly bring in the flour and mix to incorporate. When the dough becomes stiff, use your hands to bring it together – it shouldn’t be too crumbly, but also not sticky. Add a little more water as you need it – every type of flour is different, so go by feel. (Alternatively, mix all of the ingredients together in a food processor until it forms a stiff dough.) Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Flatten into a disc, cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the noodle dough into four pieces. Cover three of the pieces and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a rough disc around 3 mm thick. Roll the dough through a pasta machine set to the widest setting, then continue to roll through the narrower settings until the sheet is 2 mm in thickness. Cut either by hand or using the spaghetti attachment on your machine. Dust with extra flour and set aside. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
For the tare, simply mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and check for seasoning. It should be salty and sweet and well balanced. Feel free to add more of the sesame oil, sugar, salt, saké or soy until it is to your liking. Divide the tare among four bowls.
Bring the broth to a simmer and season with salt. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil for the noodles. Cook the noodles for 4 minutes, or until al dente, then drain. Ladle the hot broth into the bowls, stir to combine with the tare and check for seasoning. Divide the noodles among the bowls. Slice the reserved chicken thighs and cut the soy eggs in half lengthways. Place on top of the noodles, then complete the ramen with the other toppings – plenty of spring onion, corn and a little bit of butter – and serve.
A Year of Simple Family Food by Julia Busuttil Nishimura, published by Plum (RRP $39.99) is available now. Photography by Armelle Habib.