Ajitsuke Tamago, Menma and more…

If you’ve been following my series on Ramen, you may have read the intro 101 post and have probably ended up here after reading the post on Tonkotsu Ramen or Miso Ramen. I hope you enjoyed them.

This blog post covers a couple of recipes for toppings for ramen. One of the most important of those is the soft-boiled egg. Now, since I’ve never been to Japan and only read a handful of books and over a dozen articles on the web, I’m not sure whether it’s called Ajitsuka Tamago or Ajitama. If you know what the right term is, please do let me know. I’ll be planning a holiday in Japan, in the meanwhile.

Note: You can either use the marinade from after you’re done cooking your chashu pork belly for this or make just one batch of marinade and split it two ways – one for the pork belly and the other for the eggs, if you intend on multitasking, like I did. You may need to scale the ingredients in the recipe accordingly.

Ajitsuke Tamago or Ajitama

Ingredients

(makes 6 eggs)

2 tbsp sake

2 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp ginger, freshly grated

2 tbsp garlic, crushed

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup water, for the marinade

 

1 litre water, to boil the eggs

Ice or cold water, to shock the eggs

6 eggs, at room temperature

Method

  1. Simmer the sake and the mirin for a couple of minutes until some of the alcohol boils off.
  2. On low heat, add the soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sugar and let simmer for another 7-10 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Keep this mixture aside.
  4. To boil the eggs, bring a large pot of water to boil. Reduce the flame to medium heat.
  5. Poke a small hole at the large/wide end of each egg using a drawing pin.
  6. Gently immerse each egg into the boiling water. Swirl the eggs around for the first two minutes. And cook for another 4 minutes. The cooking time should be no more than 6 minutes.
  7. Remove the eggs and immediately shock them in a bowl of ice cold water. Let them sit for about 15 minutes in the ice bath.
  8. Peel the eggs and soak them in the soy marinade prepared earlier. Top up with water. They can sit in the seasoning liquid for anywhere between 2 hours to 3 days.
  9. Cut in half and serve atop your bowl of ramen.
ajitsuke tamago / ajitama - marinated soft boiled eggs
ajitsuke tamago / ajitama – marinated soft boiled eggs

Menma (Bamboo Shoots)

The other important topping that goes on most ramen bowls is bamboo shoots. Most places outside of the Asian world sell bamboo shoots in pickled form in jars or uncured form in tins. If you’re using pickled bamboo shoots, you may want to wash them out in water before serving them, lest the pickling liquid overpowers the goodness of the ramen. In case you’re using the uncured variety, you may want to add that little bit of flavour to it before serving them up.

You can, just like the eggs, use the pork belly seasoning liquid to marinate the bamboo shoots.

Alternately, you can flavour some water with katsuboshi (dried fish) and some konbu (seaweed) and boil the mixture for about 10 minutes. Drain the konbu and katsuboshi out and now add a little bit of mirin and sugar along with the bamboo shoots and simmer for another 10 minutes. Let the menma come down to room temperature and keep immersed in the cooking liquid until it’s time to serve.


Another couple of toppings I’d love to make for ramen are mayu (black garlic oil), my own chilli oil and my own chilli-garlic-miso paste. And of course, Narutomaki. You know those pink and white swirled discs that are served atop ramen? That’s what narutomaki is. Steamed fish cakes. The procedure seems fairly simple, but my ramen experiments have been too rushed, often making everything on the same day and I’ve never quite had enough time to make fish cakes.

I’ll end this post with a fun fact:

The spiral pattern in the naruto slices resemble the Naruto whirlpools in the Naruto Strait between Awaji Island and Shikoku in Japan, which is how they get their name. Apart from being used as a slang term for the at sign “@”, Naruto (from the manga series) is called so because of his chaotic, energetic side which resembles a whirlpool.

Now that that’s out of the way, I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on making your own ramen from scratch, for the most part. Do let me know whether you got around to making your own or whether what you’ve read is indeed the real deal, the authentic stuff that’s served in Japan and around the world.

 

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