There’s nothing like a comforting bowl of soup on a cold winter’s night, and there’s certainly nothing like a bowl of umami-rich homemade ramen. Umami, which is translated from Japanese as a pleasant savory taste, is often described as one of the five basic tastes alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty.
Traditional ramen is an intimidating, multiday process, primarily because there are several components — and there’s a great deal of time required to source, prepare and slowly simmer all of them. But with a few healthy hacks, you can make this warm and comforting dish at home — even on a weeknight!
Our recipe calls for a quick chicken broth that comes together in about 15 minutes, but you can easily substitute vegetable broth. A store-bought rotisserie chicken is the key to making this a weeknight meal, but if time allows, we’ve added details on how to braise your own chicken. Tip: Make additional pickled carrots to add to salads and sandwiches through the week.
Weeknight Miso-Chicken Ramen with Quick-Pickled Carrots
Total prep time: 30 minutes with store-bought chicken (90 minutes with homemade braised chicken)
The recipe makes two hearty bowls of ramen, but you can easily double it. The leftovers make for a delicious lunch. Black sesame seeds, togarashi (Japanese red chili flakes), mirin (rice wine) and dried ramen noodles are all readily available at your local Asian supermarket or a well-stocked grocer.
For the stock:
- 4 cups no salt added chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1.5 tablespoons white miso paste
- 1 tablespoon mirin
For the carrots:
- 2 large carrots, shredded into long strips
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
For the ramen bowls:
- 2 eggs
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- 1 bunch bok choy, thinly sliced
- Black sesame seeds and togarashi
- Sliced watermelon radish (optional)
- 2 ounces whole-grain ramen noodles
Prepare the broth. In a 4-quart stock pot, combine the chicken stock with the ginger, garlic and miso over medium heat. Bring to boil, then turn heat to low, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so. Turn off the heat, add the mirin and allow the broth to steep while you prepare the other ingredients. (Broth can be made a day or two ahead, then kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
Next, prepare the carrots. Place the carrots and peppercorns in a small jar or bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together the hot water, rice vinegar, honey and soy sauce, then pour over the carrots. Cover the carrots, and allow to marinate while you finish the other ramen components.
In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to boil. Then lower the heat to simmer, and add the eggs carefully into the simmering water with a slotted spoon, being careful not to let them bang on the bottom of the pot. Allow the eggs to cook for 6 minutes. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath. After 6 minutes, remove the eggs carefully and transfer them immediately to the ice bath to let them cool (popping the eggs in the fridge here speeds up the process). Once cool to the touch, carefully peel each egg and slice in half, revealing creamy yolks.
Lastly, prepare the noodles and get ready to assemble. Bring a 4-quart pot of water to boil. Cook noodles according to package directions (roughly 5–7 minutes, until they’re loose and al dente.) Ladle noodles into bowls, cover with broth, and add a bit of chicken, 2 egg halves, scallions, bok choy, pickled carrots, black sesame seeds and togarashi, to taste.
Have a bit of extra time? Here’s how to braise chicken:
- 2 chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/4 cup sake
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Dry the chicken thighs completely with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large ovenproof skillet, swirling the pan to distribute the oil. Turn to medium heat, and add the chicken thighs, browning on one side (roughly 5 minutes) before flipping to the other side. The chicken is done when it’s nicely browned all over. Add the sake, cover tightly with aluminum foil and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the chicken is tender and cooked through, roughly 30–45 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before pulling meat from the bones, then add to your ramen.
Serves: 2 | Serving Size: 2 cups broth + 1 egg + 1 chicken thigh meat each bowl
Per serving: Calories: 475; Total Fat: 19g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Monounsaturated Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 186mg; Sodium: 732mg; Carbohydrate: 42g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 16g; Protein: 35g
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 778mg; Iron: 12%; Vitamin A: 236%; Vitamin C: 41%; Calcium: 11%