Erin recently gave me the Momofuku cookbook as a mid-week gift (it really was a nice surprise) and ever since I’ve been obsessed with ramen (as well as the rest of the cookbook).

I’ve slowly been gathering the necessary ingredients to make my own batch, which has required trips to two different Asian markets in the area.  Unfortunately both of them cater more to the Chinese population than Japanese, so the names of what I’m looking for is totally different (this includes basic items like nori, konbu and the type of light soy sauce I was looking for.)  If I was doing this 10 years ago I probably would have given up the search long ago without the ability to search the internet while I’m in the store.

After yesterday’s trip I think I’ve finally procured or identified all of the ingredients necessary to make my first batch of ramen, though I’m still at least a week away from starting to make the broth because I’m making my own bacon.  David Chang’s recipe calls for Benton’s bacon, which I can actually get pretty easily at Reliable Cheese Company here in Durham.  But my dad just gave me his smoker and I’m eager to give it put it to good use so I’ve got 3 slabs of pork belly curing which I’ll hopefully be able to smoke either next Sunday or Monday.

Finding the right type of noodles has kind of been a pain in the ass too.  Have you ever walked into an Asian market and looked at the noodle aisle?  I couldn’t even go by the name because the only type of Japanese noodles I could find (and in ample supply) were udon noodles.  So instead I had to look at the ingredients listed and ended up stumbling upon the right thing in the refrigerated section at Li Ming’s Global Mart.  I have yet to actually purchase the noodles since they’re refrigerated and I won’t be making my ramen for another week and a half or so.  Sure, I could make my own noodles, but to be honest it looks like a real pain in the ass and would require trying to find even more ingredients.

Another great find were the frozen fish cakes, or narutomaki, which I found at Grand Asia.  It’s possible that they’re somewhere in Li Ming’s but I couldn’t find them, and the last time I asked for help there I didn’t get much assistance.  Erin really isn’t looking forward to these, but I admit that the day glo pink ring in the  middle has me more than intrigued.

So over the course of three trips to these two markets, I’ve procured:

  • konbu
  • nori
  • pork bones
  • pork bellies
  • light soy sauce, apparently also known as usukuchi, though I found nothing labeled as such
  • narutomaki (fish cakes)
  • mirin
  • sake, which I had to buy at a wine shop

I’ll update when I actually get around to making the ramen, presumably some time next week.  For something I’ve already put so much work into I’m expecting it to blow my mind.  If it doesn’t, at the least I’ve purchased some ingredients that will be nice to have around.


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