Meera Sodha’s Caramelized Onion and Chile Ramen

published Apr 30, 2021
Caramelized Onion and Chile Ramen

Here, sticky onions combine with miso, stock, and sake to make a very special-tasting soup.

Serves4

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Credit: David Loftus

From the outside, Japanese food can seem rigid, steeped in centuries of tradition. But the truth is that it is a story of continual innovation. Ramen, for example, is an adaptation of Chinese wheat noodles and was first introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants in the early twentieth century. And although there is only one name to describe this soupy noodle dish, there are as many variations of ramen as there are cooks in Japan. My recipe evolved from an unlikely place, taking inspiration from a French onion soup I ate in a cafe in Paris. In my recipe, sticky onions combine with miso, stock, and sake to make a very special-tasting soup.

Note: Cooking sake is available in big supermarkets and online. If you can’t find it, use Chinese rice wine or dry sherry instead. To veganize this dish, drop the eggs and ensure the stock is suitable for vegans.

Meera Sodha’s East is Kitchn’s April pick for our Cookbook Club. See how you can participate here.

Caramelized Onion and Chile Ramen

Here, sticky onions combine with miso, stock, and sake to make a very special-tasting soup.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Canola oil

  • 1

    large onion, finely sliced

  • 3 cloves

    of garlic, finely sliced

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    salt

  • 1

    bird's-eye chile, finely sliced

  • 6 1/2 cups

    vegetable stock

  • 2 tablespoons

    cooking sake

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    brown rice or red miso paste

  • 7 ounces

    dried ramen noodles

  • 1/2 pound

    choy sum, cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces

  • Optional: 4 soy eggs (see recipe below) or soft-boiled eggs

  • Optional: Chile oil, to serve

Overnight Soy Eggs:

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons

    superfine sugar

  • 6

    large eggs

Instructions

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm 5 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and salt, stir to coat in the oil, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions become translucent. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. The onions will gradually caramelize and color, eventually breaking down to form a soft, sweet paste.

  2. Add the bird’s-eye chile and stock, bring to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the sake, soy sauce, and brown rice miso, stirring well to combine. Check the seasoning and adjust if need be.

  3. Cook your noodles according to the package instructions. Refresh in cold water and stir in a little oil to keep them from sticking together. Finally, bring the broth back to the boil, add the choy sum and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until tender. To serve, divide your noodles between four bowls and ladle the broth and greens over the noodles. If you’re serving the eggs, halve and pop on top of the bowls, and serve with some chile oil if you like.

Overnight Soy Eggs:

  1. First, set up somewhere to leave your eggs to marinate. I like to use a Kilner jar, but you could also use a deep plastic box. Pour the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 2/3 cup of cold water into your chosen container and stir to mix.

  2. Next, take a bowl that will fit all the eggs and put a couple of handfuls of ice inside. Pour cold water into the bowl so that it’s three-quarters full, and leave to one side.

  3. To cook the eggs, take a saucepan just big enough to hold the eggs snugly (so they can’t rattle around too much), fill it half full of water, and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. When the water is at a rolling boil, gently lower the eggs into the water using a large spoon. Cook for exactly 7 minutes (set a timer) from the moment the last egg hits the water. Drain and pop the eggs into the bowl of iced water to cool off.

  4. Leave for 10 minutes, then peel the eggs (it sometimes helps to peel under the water to keep them perfect) and drop into the soy mixture. Put a piece of paper towel over the eggs to keep them submerged, and place in the fridge. Leave overnight, then remove the eggs from the solution and transfer to an airtight container in the morning. They will keep for a week in the fridge (and the solution can be used for another round of eggs).

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from East: 120 Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing. Copyright © 2020 by Meera Sodha. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.