In his new cookbook, Momofuku, David Chang, a chef who made his name in the New York food scene with the steaming bowls of ramen served up at his East Village restaurant, lists a simple equation for understanding his signature dish:
Ramen = broth + noodles + meat + toppings and garnishes.
Chang first tried ramen the same way most people in America do — in small, cheap packets of dried, instant noodles. But, as he tells Michele Norris, his taste for the noodles blossomed when he lived in Japan and saw people lining up at ramen houses for homemade noodles tangled with ingredients like dried fish, pork and chicken.
"Contemporary ramen is totally different than what most Americans think ramen should be. Ramen is not one thing; there are many, many different types," he says.
Momofuku contains a recipe for his ramen broth that's miles away from the salty foil-wrapped flavor packets that come with instant noodles. In fact, Chang's broth recipe requires pounds of meat and takes hours to prepare. But, Chang says, the layers of flavor that result make the prep time pay off, especially if you think of the dish the way you would a hearty soup.
"It seems like a lot of ingredients," Chang says. "[But] all you need is a big pot, and [you] just throw a bunch of ingredients in and let it simmer."