The Basement Cooks is a bi-weekly series which focuses on members within The Basement group and the food they are cooking. This recipe is brought to you by Bonnie Robinson.
This is the perfect recipe for a cold winter’s day. It’s perfect for this time of year. Delicious, nutritious, and warming, it is the kind of food that feeds your soul. A big comforting hug in a bowl. If you prepare the broth in advance, you can keep it in the fridge for a few days and then just rustle up a big bowl of comfort.
1 whole duck
1.1kg chicken wings
White ends from 2 bunches of spring onions
4-inch piece of ginger
10 cloves of garlic
2 sheets of kombu
500ml dark soy sauce
60g dried anchovies
6g bonito flakes
3 tbsp mirin
1.5 tbsp light brown sugar
Leftover duck fat from roasting the duck
4 fat cloves of garlic
2-inch piece of ginger
Green ends of 4 spring onions
250g shiitake mushrooms
1 whole orange
Duck skin reserved from the whole duck
4 duck breasts, 2 of which can be reserved from the whole duck
Green ends of spring onion, thinly sliced
1 sheet of nori cut into 4 squares
4 ramen eggs
4 servings of ramen noodles
THE DAY BEFORE
Start your broth. Start early (I started at 7am for example). You can do this on the same day but it takes 8hrs to boil down so I recommend doing this the day before to spread out the preparation of the ramen.
Preheat your oven to 220c standard / 200c fan.
First, we will need to dismantle the duck. Pull the legs away from the carcass and break at the joints. Use kitchen scissors to remove the legs from the bird. Use a sharp knife to cut along the spine on either side to remove the breasts. If you are finding this difficult there are lots of videos on YouTube to show you how to do this.
Peel away at the remaining skin on the duck. Set this aside for your crackling. Use the scissors to snip away and peel back the skin on the legs. Set this aside for the crackling. We are leaving the skin on the breasts. Store the skin, breasts and legs in the fridge for use at a later stages in the process.
In a large roasting tray, place the remainder of the duck carcass. Drizzle with olive oil and season with plenty of salt. Transfer to the oven and roast for 1hr and 25 minutes. Until the bones have darkened and caramelised.
Remove the roasted carcass from the oven, you should be left with a pool of fat from the duck. Reserve this fat in a small container to use for the aroma oil.
Whilst the duck is roasting, soak the chicken wings in cold water in a large deep stock pot. Soak for 2hrs. This will remove the myoglobin and impurities.
After the chicken wings have finished their soaking, drain the water from the stock pot. Add the roasted duck carcass to the pot along with the legs. Top up with fresh cold water, making sure all the wings and bones are fully submerged, about 3-4 inches.
Over a high heat, bring the bones and water to a boil. Once boiling, for the first 15 minutes you will need to remove the scum from the top. Try not to remove too much of the fat but focus on the foam and scum.
Once the scum has settled and the broth is boiling, turn the heat to a medium high. The broth will need to be on a rolling boil for 8hrs. During this 8hrs, it will need topping up with water as it reduces. You’re aiming to have the bones constantly submerged, about 3 inches above the bones as a general rule.
On the 7th hour, we will need to add the aromatics. Peel and quarter the onion and remove the skin. Crush the garlic, no need to worry about the skins just toss them in, chop the carrot into quarters and throw the ginger in the pot too. Adding these in the final hour will mean they don’t lose their flavour in the broth.
After the full 8hrs, the carcass should have totally broken down, you will essentially have a load of mushy meat and some bones in the pot. The broth should be cloudy and creamy.
Take another large pan and a fine mesh sieve to carefully drain the broth. Push the bones and meat gently in the sieve to release any extra liquid. Discard all the solids and you should be left with a pot of rich creamy broth.
You should be left with about 1.3 litres of broth. If you have more than this, reduce further until you’ve reached the desired quantity.
Use a hand blender to emulsify the broth. Set aside in the fridge to use the next day.
In a shallow bowl, soak the kombu in the soy sauce overnight.
THE DAY OF
In a small saucepan, add the soaked kombu and the soy sauce, along with the dried anchovies.
Over a medium heat, bring the soy sauce to 80c. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can bring this to a boil and immediately switch off the heat. Hold the temperature at 80c for 10 minutes.
Add the bonito flakes and leave to steep for another 5 minutes.
Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the solids and reserve the liquid.
In a fresh pan, add the soy base, mirin and sugar. Cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes until slightly reduced.
Set aside for assembly.
Aroma Oil :
In a small saucepan, add the reserved duck fat, the garlic (smashed with skin left on), spring onion and ginger.
Cook over a very low heat for 25 minutes.
Remove the aromatics, leaving you with just the liquid fat, and set aside for assembly.
In a cold frying pan, lay down the skin. Add about 1 tbsp of water and a drizzle of oil.
Turn the heat on low and leave to slowly render out the fat and crisp up the skin. This will take around 20 minutes or so. Turn when one side has become dark golden and crispy.
When both sides are totally crisp, remove from the pan and chop into little shards for sprinkling.
Crispy Shitake Mushrooms:
Tear the larger shiitake mushrooms into a large frying pan. Smaller mushrooms can go in whole. Drizzle in some vegetable oil and add about ¼ tsp salt.
Cook over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until crispy and darkened in colour.
Set aside for assembly.
Thinly slice the orange and remove any peel leaving you with fleshy rounds.
Lay the slices in a large frying pan and cook over a medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until caramelised. Flip and repeat with the other side.
Set aside :
For The Duck Breast:
As this serves 4, we are left with 2 duck breasts that we removed from the bird. You will also have to source another 2 duck breasts to complete the four portions of ramen.
Pat the skin of the duck breast dry with kitchen roll. Score the skin with a sharp knife. Season both sides of the breasts generously with salt.
In a large cold pan, lay the duck breasts skin side down. Make sure you do this in a large pan so to not overcrowd.
Turn the heat to low and press the duck breasts down with another pan to prevent the skin curling.
Cook very gently for about 10 or so minutes. The fat should be gently bubbling and rendering out. After 10 minutes, if the skin is not crispy, turn the heat up to medium and cook for another minute to crisp up the skin.
Flip the breasts and cook on the other side over a medium heat until the internal temperature reaches 50c. This should only take a minute or so.
Leave to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
You’ll need 4 ramen bowls in front of you. Now for the tare this is to taste, I find 1-1.5 tbsp of the tare is perfect for seasoning the broth. You’ll notice we didn’t add any salt to the broth, this is because the tare is our seasoning.
Add 1-1.5 tbsp tare and 1 tbsp aroma oil to the bottom of each bowl.
For The Noodles:
Cook the noodles in boiling water, if you’ve used my recipe for ramen noodles there is no need to salt the water. Cook for 1-2 minutes, depending on how much bite you like. I like to use chopsticks to stir to prevent any sticking.
I cook the noodles one portion at a time to make sure the portions are even, and to individually lay into the bowls. As the noodles are quick to cook this isn’t a time-consuming process.
Drain the noodles and set aside in their individual portions.
For The Broth:
Remove your broth from the fridge, its more than likely that it will have solidified in the fridge. As the rolling boil will have extracted all the gelatine in the bones it will have set into a jelly. This is a very good thing!
In a large pan, transfer the broth and bring to a boil over a medium heat. You will want this to be boiling hot for serving as most of the components of the ramen will be at room temperature. The idea is that the hot broth will warm them through.
For presentation purposes, try to gently fold the noodles over themselves in the bowls.
You’re aiming to give all the toppings a sort of spotlight so they’re all recognisable and placed apart from each other to draw attention to each element of the dish. Bare this in mind when assembling your ramen. You’re more than welcome to refer to my presentation for example.
Lay down the slices of duck, try to maintain some of the original shape of the breast instead of just laying them down any old way.
Slice the ramen egg in half and lay this over the noodles.
Poke the nori square into the noodles so it is stood up against the side of the bowl.
Do the same with the orange, so it is stood up at the side.
Add spoon of the crispy mushrooms and a sprinkle of the crispy duck crackling.
Finish with a sprinkle of the spring onion.
I used about 250ml of the broth per serving. You’re welcome to use more or less than that as the broth should yield slightly more than a 250ml serving.
Ladle the hot broth over the bowl of ingredients and you’re ready to serve.