Over the holidays some families stick to age old traditions of cooking and baking holiday favorites. My younger son Cooper and I make ramen! We love ramen and avidly explore every Bay Area ramen shop we can find. When I travel across the nation and globally I do the same, looking for the best and most popular ramen I can find!
When we make ramen over the holidays we often use the Momofuku recipe. That is a great book with very creative recipes, many of which aren't too labor intensive, have a small number of steps and each recipe is packed with flavor. Their ramen recipe, however, is quite a bit of work, which is why we do it over the holidays when we have time away from work and school to focus on doing it right!
When we were in Japan last year, we were delighted to find out that there was a professional ramen school in Nagase, a short train ride from Osaka, and we made sure to sign up. The Toranoana ramen school is run by ramen master Hiroshi Miyajima. He trains chefs who want to open ramen restaurants, and also teaches one-day classes to amateur cooks. Miyajima-sensei is, by his own admission, not fluent in English, so a translator allowed us to get the most of out his class. Cooper was nine years old at the time and I love that cooking schools outside of the US are open to having children join their classes. Cooper is a passionate cook, very responsible in the kitchen, and has an innate set of cooking skills that make him a natural in the kitchen! It's often hard to find good classes for him to take at home but here they had no reservations about Cooper taking the class with me.
We both learned a lot during the course. In the morning we started preparing the chashu, dashi for tare, onsen eggs and broth. We made the broth in just a few hours with a giant pressure cooker. Partway through the morning we took a break to eat ramen that the chef had made in a course the day before and received a great lecture on ramen theory (as I now call it). The morning ramen was chicken based, surprisingly rich and very tasty! In the afternoon we climbed a set of very steep stairs (maybe it was really a ladder) to find a few small rooms with machines for quickly making fresh noodles. Cooper had a great time collecting the noodles quickly and efficiently as the came down the conveyor belt and placing them in a noodle tray. At the conclusion of the class midway through the afternoon, we ate another bowl of the ramen that we had made that day. This was pork based and just as good. We were very full after two bowls of ramen, and actually couldn't find it in ourselves to eat any more ramen for the next few days! This was actually very sad because we were in Japan! The good news is that we made a quick recovery, and were able to resume our ramen regimen by the time we reached Tokyo a few days later!