Monday, May 5, 2014
A good friend recently recommended Ivan Orkin's Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint to us, saying "That book made me want a hot bowl of fatty pork ramen." We thought "Cool!" and added it to our list of cookbooks to check out at a later date. That was a mistake.
Ivan Ramen is not just a cookbook! The first half is a memoir, explaining how a Jewish kid from Long Island ended up with his own restaurant in Tokyo, serving ramen to the likes of Ohsaki-san, "godfather of the ramen world" and Tokyo's most feared ramen critic, appearing on the TV show of Minoru Sano (Sano-san or "The Ramen Devil" - Japan's Gordon Ramsay), and starting his own line of instant ramen. As if the story of how Ivan got to Japan (it wasn't really because he loved the movie Tampopo, but you should watch it anyway) and his immersion in Japanese culture weren't enough of a treat, then come the recipes.
Shio ramen is "the gold standard" of Ivan Ramen restaurants, and it's the heart of the cookbook portion of this book. The first recipe is "The Complete Bowl", but actually you should only look at that recipe after you've prepared and assembled your "ramen components" - Fat, Shio Tare, Katsuobushi Salt, Double Soup, Toasted Rye Noodles, Pork Belly Chashu - and the recipes for these follow "The Complete Bowl". It's going to be more time-consuming than your supermarket Pot Noodle, for sure, but after reading about it you will be determined to produce it (we are!).
Many of the other recipes are suggestions for what to do with your "ramen component" leftovers - katsu (fried, breaded pork cutlets), teriyaki, ozoni (a New Year's specialty soup) - which seem very handy, and there are also some other ramen variations - even Four Cheese Mazemen (noodles served with just a little soup; the cheeses are Edam, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack) and Breakfast Yakisoba - and recipes for a few sides and sweets.
We think that after you read this book, you, too, will want to try some ramen, if not make some yourself! Look for a list of Albuquerque's ramen restaurants in the links below. Happy reading and happy eating!
Ivan Ramen website
Ivan Ramen NYC Tumblr
"Ivan Orkin: Ramen Genius"
"A Life of Noodles Comes Full Circle"
Ramen Restaurants in Albuquerque on Yelp
"Oh yeah, O Ramen House is the real deal"