Tampopo is a Japanese cult favorite 1985 movie about food obsessions. It features several humorous vignettes about dining and eating and manners, but the main plot revolves around a struggling ramen shop owner/cook who seeks help from a cowboy-styled stranger to make the perfect ramen. This involves a lot of stealth competitive research to steal the secrets of great broth, noodles, and toppings, until she finds her restaurant is the busiest spot in town.
The trouble with Tampopo is that – aside from one sketch involving an egg yolk – it makes me crave delicious noodle soup, but there aren’t many places around that serve a veg-friendly ramen. And if the movie is to be believed, making great ramen is complex and time-consuming.
I like cooking, but I am not terribly patient, so to attempt great (or at least tasty, passable) ramen, I turned to the recipe developed by J. Kenji López-Alt at the Serious Eats Food Lab. He uses science and everything! (You may also have followed his now-annual adventures in veganism.) Sure, it’s a lot of steps, but I’m not afraid of a project.
This required a hell of a lot of ingredients…
First we start the broth (not pictured: broiling the garlic, onion, and ginger ‘til they’re a tiny bit charred)
Then roast some diced sweet potato and beech and maitake mushrooms with Japanese chili-sesame spice
Then simmer fresh shiitakes with more ginger, scallions, and a crapload of soy sauce and mirin for a tangy sauce
Also make a ‘shroomy infused oil with dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms
AND THEN! Strain the broth, make it creamy by pureeing some of the sweet potatoes and bring it up to almost a simmer WHILE AT THE SAME TIME cooking the ramen noodles (oh right, those)…
Finally, mix it all together in the bowl with a mixture of miso paste, tahini, garlic, and some of that soy-mirin sauce, add the noodles, add the toppings, and…
Holy shit, this took like almost 3 hours to make and I basically had it for breakfast. But WORTH IT.