Sometimes, the craving for ramen comes with the desire to make it at home — and not just from rectangular packages or Styrofoam cups. We're talking about a homemade ramen that's rich and satisfying and on par with what you have at restaurants and ramen shops. The key to making good ramen at home is making good broth, and making good broth at home doesn't require 12 hours of cooking, nor a plethora of bones. We believe that making good broth for ramen begins with chicken wings.
Harness the Flavor Power of Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are often thought of for one reason and one reason only: Buffalo wings. Now, I love spicy-as-all-get-out wings too, but the magic of these chicken parts, the real reason why those wings taste so darn good, isn't the small amount of meat on the bone — it's the lusciously flavorful chicken fat and the gelatin present in their joints and skin. These two elements, along with a few choice ingredients, help build a broth for really good ramen at home; one that's deeply flavored and thicker than your standard broth.
Chicken Fat for Flavor
Long the gift of a kosher kitchen, chicken fat, or schmaltz, is unctuous and smells and tastes like chicken. Roasting the wings allows you to coax even more flavor out for this broth. Rather than the more neutral, light-colored broth you get from poaching a chicken breast or even using the bones of a whole chicken, the concentration of chicken flavor that's derived from a base made from just wings is intense and intentionally chicken-y. This is good, because the secondary set of ingredients added to this broth — the kombu and shiitake mushrooms — are potent in their own right and deserve a pronounced base that can host them.
Chicken Bones and Skin for Texture
While we're relying on the skin of chicken wings for fat and flavor, the skin and bones are the primary contributors to the broth's unctuous texture. A slow-and-low simmer gives you a gelatinous final product, which means the broth tastes good but also feels good.
Turing Broth into a Base for Ramen Soup
The rich chicken stock we've created is now a blank slate of almost any direction you want to go in. Matzo ball soup, chicken noodle — choose your adventure. For ramen, we're incorporating dried shiitake mushrooms for an additional savory layer and to color the broth. Kombu, a kelp derivative, is added as well for an earthy, faintly briny undertone. For both, just a little bit carries a big flavor wallop and, best of all, both are also dried and will keep for months in your pantry, ready for the next dashi or broth.
From here, your broth is ready for ramen-building, or perhaps just a few vegetables of your choice. That's the beauty of this base — it goes any direction you choose.
How To Make Asian Chicken Broth from Chicken Wings
What You Need
6 to 6 1/2 pounds chicken wings
4 medium carrots (about 8 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 small bunches scallions (about 12 to 18), bottoms trimmed
10 cups water, divided
1 head garlic, bottom trimmed, cut in half horizontally, skin left on
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
20 dried shiitake mushrooms (about 2 ounces)
1 (6-inch) sheet dried kombu
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
Measuring cups and spoons
Stovetop-safe roasting pan or large stovetop-safe casserole dish
Strainer or slotted spoon (for skimming)
- Roast the chicken wings: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Place the chicken wings in a stovetop-safe roasting pan or casserole dish and roast until well-browned, about 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375°F. Add the carrots and scallions and mix well, then roast for another 20 minutes.
- Deglaze the roasting pan: Transfer the chicken and vegetables from the roasting pan to a large stockpot. Place the now-empty roasting pan on the stovetop over high heat. Add 2 cups of the water and, stirring and scraping vigorously with a wooden spoon, scrape up all the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then carefully pour everything into the stockpot.
- Add the aromatics and water: Add the garlic, ginger, shiitakes, kombu, and remaining 8 cups of water and mix well. Bring the mixture just to a simmer (a few bubbles around the edges) over high heat.
- Simmer the broth: Reduce the heat as low as your stove will allow, add the tamari or soy sauce, and simmer, occasionally skimming the fat and scum that accumulates on the surface, until the chicken has fallen completely off the bone and the wing bones come apart easily, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
- Strain the broth: Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl and discard the solids. Refrigerate the broth overnight. Before using, skim the solidified fat off the surface and discard.
- Storage: The broth can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.