what's all the fuss about ramen?

{ portuguese style ramen }


I have always had a hard time picking favourites. As a kid, I used to feel like I was the only one who couldn't name a single favourite dish. You know, steak and fries were not really on the top of my list. I'ld go for seafood rice, grilled fish, tagliatelli with a bold tomato sauce, loads of salad, lasagna, maybe roasted meat... but no, fries were never on my top, and it felt unfair to me to select a couple favourites when that totally depended on my mood - and I could be attracted to such utterly different things!

As I grew up, I came to the conclusion that I just had very eclectic tastes. You know, you can catch me listening to Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash in a minute, then it can easily shift to Pink Floyd or Guns and Roses, crossing Dire Straits in the way, Ed Sheeran, The Strokes, Lykke Li, Junip, Arctic Monkeys, Lana del Rey, Tina Turner, The Black Keys, Chet Faker, Daft Punk, Imagine Dragons or even some Chopin, and my latest love, Hozier. I don't like them all the same - it's just that at times one just fits me better than the others. I have musical cravings.

I realized that being able to tell your favourites is actually important - at least to a certain degree. You know, I don't like Alt-J the same way I like, for instance, The Black Keys, neither do I like Lana as much as I like Lykke. I realized that picking favourites was about knowing yourself better. For instance, for as good as the music can be, I am the most moved by witty lyrics - they take a good sounding music to a whole other level.

In the end, favourites were not that hard to pick. I kind of just had to admit what I already knew.

Food wise - and currently, - my favourite foreign cuisines are likely the italian and... sushi! I love sushi, and we have a lot of great quality restaurants in Portugal, with delicious fresh fish.
I say sushi because there is a lot more to the japanese cuisine - that I was yet to try.
And here begins the story of this recipe...

As a curious foodie and a conscious food blogger, I have heard a lot about Ramen noodles. It's everywhere - from the Food Network to the Huffington Post. It has, out of a sudden, become a huge trend in the USA, or so it seems. And wait, what?, many of my friends are eating it!

Oh, wait. They are eating instant ramen.

That goes far south from my kitchen terms. I refuse to try such thing (especially on the first time I'ld be eating ramen) unless I find myself struck in one of the following scenarios:
a) someone is offering it to me - offering food means a lot to me and even if you're offering me instant ramen, I'll instantaneously think they're your instant ramen and that you care about me, and you'll only get a big smile and an empty bowl back.
b) arriving in Munich at four in the morning from an extremely tiring day-long trip, completely starving, all shops and restaurants closed (Bavarians!), only to find out that all the shelves are empty, there is nothing but stalactites in the freezer, the fridge is as empty as the shelves and the only thing I can steal from my flatmates is this tiny little package of dried japanese food - and I may just as well run the city in the quest for a shady kebab or pizza dive.
c) there's a zombie or alien (or both!?) attack and the only thing left in the ravaged remains of the supermarket or at my middle brother's anti-alien bunker (I bet he'll have one of those by then) is a ton of packages of the product.

That was one of the reasons why, when I saw them ramen noodles - opaque, gritty textured wheat noodles, - sitting on a shelf at the asian mini-market, I knew I had to take them home. And so I did.
Having mostly none of the ingredients I should be using to prepare my ramen soup according to the internet, I made up my own version, which ended up tasting exactly as I had imagined ramen soup should taste like. I've had my share of thai, japanese and chinese food, so I know what I'm talking about. I was so proud of them that I have decided to share the recipe with you!

These noodles are a quick version of what could have been a nice cooking project - which would involve real chicken and not only breast, and the making of a broth with it... and so on - so I think that if you are willing to upgrade from your instant version but want to keep it quick and easy, this is just the thing you're looking for ;)

And just so we're clear, I'm not claiming I am a ramen connoisseur - not at all. Just suggesting that you can get something nice and easy without popping it into the microwave or having it coming in powder. I know ramen is to the Japanese what Bacalhau à Brás is to the Portuguese - and Jamie Oliver kind of had trouble because of it over the past week - so I can guarantee you: this is "portuguese style" ramen.

ramen de frango à portuguesa
com couves de bruxelas, tomate fresco, cerveja bávara e coentros.

(serve 2)
1 peito de frango grande, aberto ao meio
90g de massa ramen
8 couves de bruxelas, sem talo, cortadas ao meio e laminadas finamente
1/2 tomate, cortado em cubinhos pequenos
2 dentes de alho, finamente picados
1 colher de sopa de cebola picada
óleo vegetal q.b.
1/2 colher de sopa de óleo de sésamo
2 colheres de sopa de molho de soja
50ml de weissbier (cerveja de trigo)
1 + 1/2 chávena de água a ferver
1 pezinho de coentros
noz moscada e piri-piri a gosto

Numa sertã ou grelhador, cozinhar o peito de frango sobre lume brando em óleo vegetal, de ambos os lados. Temperar com piri-piri e noz moscada. Reservar envolto em papel de alumínio para não arrefecer e reservar o líquido de confecção à parte.
Levar a cebola, o alho e a couve de bruxelas a refogar no óleo de preparação da carne, acrescentando o óleo de sésamo e um pouco de sal. Juntar o molho de soja e deixar caramelizar, mexendo. Juntar a cerveja e deixar evaporar.
Adicionar a água a ferver, a massa e o tomate e deixar cozinhar cerca de 4 minutos - ou o tempo indicado na embalagem. Durante esta altura, rectificar os temperos do caldo e acrescentar mais líquido se necessário.
Entretanto, fatiar a carne, acrescentando qualquer líquido restante ao caldo. A cerca de um minuto do final da cozedura, juntar os coentros à sopa, dispor a carne no topo e deixar absorver um pouco o caldo, para que fique macia e saborosa.
Servir numa tigela de sopa com pauzinhos chineses (e uma colher!)


portuguese style chicken ramen
with brussel sprouts, fresh tomato, bavarian beer and cilantro.

(2 servings)
1 big chicken breast, sliced open in two
90g ramen noodles
8 brussel sprouts, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tomato, diced down to small pieces
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
50ml weissbier (wheat beer)
1 + 1/2 cup boiling water
fresh cilantro
ground nutmeg and dried chili

In a frying or grill pan, cook the chicken over medium heat in vegetable oil, both sides. Season with chili and nutmeg. Set aside, wrapped in aluminum foil, so that it remains warm. Separately set aside any juices that remained in the pan.
Sautée the onion, garlic and brussel sprouts in these juices, together with the sesame oil and a bit of salt. Add soy salt and let caramelize, stirring. Add beer and let it reduce.
Add the boiling water, noodles and tomato and let cook for about 4 minutes - or the time suggested in the package. Check salt and seasonings and add more water too if there is not enough liquid.
Meanwhile, slice the meat, adding any remaining juices to the boiling broth. About a minute before the noodles are finished, mix in the cilantro, set the meat over the noodles and let it absorb a bit of broth, so it gets tender and tasty.
Serve in a bowl with chopsticks (and a spoon!)


wish you a nice week!

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