Duck Ramen with Garlic Oil
A sign of the obsession with food that my girlfriend and I share is that one of the principal reasons for choosing a duck for Christmas lunch was it would mean having duck ramen the following day.
As we ate the roast duck (more on that in a future post) we were already talking about the ramen to come. It all started with a duck ramen we ate back at a Grub Club event in October – that one was rich and full of aniseed, garnished with Thai basil. This one was more subtle and savoury, topped off with garlic oil.
I’m going to assume you’re starting with a roast duck. If not, you can remove the duck breasts and roast the carcass and legs to get to the same starting point, and then grill the duck breasts before you serve. You’ll also need vegetable dashi (or a really good, non-salty vegetable or chicken stock), two stalks of lemongrass, three star anise, two slices of root ginger, noodles, pak choi, garlic, shallots, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, eggs, spring onion, coriander, shiitake mushrooms, beansprouts and coriander (cilantro).
The base: Strip as much meat and skin off the carcass as possible, keeping the skin and meat separate. Cover the bones with water, add three sticks of celery, and a sliced onion. Gentle simmer for three hours and allow to cool. Remove the bones, picking off more meat. Allow the stock to settle, and skim off most of the fat from the top. You want to leave small dots of fat across the top, as this will help the soup stick to the noodles. Strain the stock through some muslin. Taste and add some vegetable dashi to add savoury depth to the broth, and six shiitake mushrooms, with the lemongrass, star anise and ginger. Heat gently but keep just below boiling point.
Garlic Oil: Peel and smash up two shallots and three cloves of garlic in a pestle and mortar. Add a good tablespoon of sesame seeds and pound some more. Tip this into a small saucepan and cover with vegetable or groundnut oil. Heat this and fry off very gently for five minutes or so, and then add Japanese pepper (nanami togarashi) to your taste.
The contents: Blanch the pak choi (one small one per person) and refresh in cold water. Boil an egg per person for six minutes, run under the cold tap and peel. Break the meat into small pieces. Finely slice the spring onions. Rinse the beansprouts and pick the coriander leaves. Lift the mushrooms out of the soup and slice. Cook the noodles per the instructions – but make sure you time it right so that they still have bite when you drain them. Have a frying pan ready and when the noodles are in, add the chopped duck skin and fry it quickly to crisp it up.
The assembly: Before you put the noodle on, pour some boiling water into the ramen bowls to heat them up. When the noodles are about a minute away, empty and dry the bowls, and add the meat, pak choi, beansprouts, sliced mushrooms, spring onion and coriander. Drain the noodles and add them. Slice the egg in half and add this, and finally the crispy duck skin.
Finally: Ladle in the boiling soup, bringing it just up to the top of the ingredients.
Serve with the garlic sauce on the side for people to add as they wish.
This worked out really well and possibly even topped the Christmas lunch!