Although the sun has been making an
guest appearance and everyone’s been scurrying about readying their gardens for the (dream of) summer, it’s still cold at night with lows in the 40s so I’ve been indulging in soup weather. Hot savory broth that fills you up and warms the cockles around your heart while the chewy noodles give your mouth that texture it craves and the sweet meaty scallops and even sweeter corn perk up your taste buds. Ramen soup is another Japanese import by way of China using 中華麺 chukamen (“Chinese-style noodles) with various toppings and broths to suit individual and regional tastes. While I tend to prefer simpler broths like 醤油 shoyu (soy sauce based) sometimes, when the weather is cold or you just crave something heartier, 味噌 miso or 豚骨 tonkotsu (pork belly and cartilaginous bones) broth hits the spot. Sapporo, where this variation is from, is the capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, which is known for its seafood and strangely also dairy products (it’s not unusual to see local dishes sporting milk or butter). It’s also a ski destination in the winter so Hokkaido-style cuisine is great for when you’re battling chilly weather. Miso ramen originated from Hokkaido and usually is made with miso and dashi broth with the addition of a hearty chicken or fish broth and topped with pork, butter, and seafood like scallops. I’ve also seen the restaurant trend of using tonkotsu broth which is a bit too rich for my tastes. While most places will just cook the scallops with the broth, I like the sweet caramelization from searing them which then allows you to sauté the corn in the scallop skillet after deglazing all those yummy browned bits with a little sake. Yum. Traditionally you’ll see 春菊 shungiku (chrysanthemum leaves) or 水菜 mizuna (“water greens” or Japanese mustard greens) but I can never seem to find those at the Japanese market. I am lucky enough to find fresh ramen noodles but dried ones would also work too (in a pinch you can even use the noodles from your instant ramen soup package and just repurpose the seasoning packet for another dish). You may also notice that there’ll be plenty of leftover broth cuz there’s a reason to my gluttony madness. Some restaurants in Japan offer 替え玉 kaedama where you can order a second helping of noodles to finish off all that yummy broth but if you only have just enough broth for two servings then what’s the fun in that? Actually, 5.5 oz ramen noodles per bowl is quite a lot of noodles so having the extra broth will likely come in handy.
Did you know?
You may have noticed that many traditional Japanese recipes add miso to the broth right at the end. Why not add it at the beginning to let it infuse the ingredients as they cook? Miso quickly loses it’s flavor once it’s boiled so mix it in at the end and enjoy all that nutty, salty, umami-ness as you slurp up all those chewy noodles 🙂
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4-5 oz sea scallops, remove any attached ligaments as they will get tough when cooked
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
1 tbsp sake
1 tbsp butter
2/3 c fresh or frozen sweet corn
4 c kombudashi (kombu seaweed kelp dashi) or katsuodashi (bonito flake dashi) stock
2 c low-salt chicken or fish stock (I used chicken)
3 tbsp shiromiso (white miso)
1 tbsp mirin
1 small sweet onion, whole
1 c baby spinach
1/4 packet enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed
1 green onion, green parts finely chopped
2 servings fresh ramen noodles (~11 oz)
1 medium or soft boiled egg, cut in half lengthwise
Boil water in a large ~4-5 quart pot. Boil ramen for 1 minute then drain and rinse in cold water. Divide into two large, deep soup bowls. Deep bowls will retain heat better so your ramen will stay piping hot 🙂
While water is boiling, season scallops with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Heat oil in a large skillet over med-hi heat till a drop of water evaporates in 1 second. Sear scallops ~2-3 minutes per side depending on how thick your scallops are (mine were 1 1/2 inches thick). Remove from skillet and set aside. In the same skillet decrease heat to medium and deglaze with sake. Melt butter till foam subsides then sauté corn till soft and golden ~3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
While scallops are cooking add stocks, mirin, and onion to a large ~4 quart pot and bring to a boil. Stir in miso and discard onion.
Add 1/2 c spinach, half of mushrooms, and 1/2 egg to each bowl. Pour hot stock into bowls ~2 1/2 c per bowl. Spoon half of corn kernels into each bowl and garnish with green onion. Makes 2 servings.
**Sorry, no nutritional estimate cuz all these Asian ingredients are really confusing the nutrition calculator. It thinks that this contains over 2000% of your RDA for sodium?? Sigh.