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Ramen Rules for Rookies

There’s an art to making ramen that keeps foodies coming back for more, and perfecting that art is the goal of Sun Noodle. I visited the company’s East Coast headquarters in Teterboro, New Jersey, where General Manager, Kenshiro Uki and Ramen Master, Shige Nakamura collaborate to develop custom noodles for New York’s most popular restaurants – including their own, just-opened, Ramen Lab NYC on Kenmare Street in Nolita. Sun Noodle’s ramen repertoire includes noodles that are straight, wavy, or curly; thick or thin. The noodle’s shape is generally decided by the type of soup it’s served with: thinner ramen is paired with lighter broths, while the thicker style is best for a robust broth.

The noodle ingredients are very basic: wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui, the alkaline mixture of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate that gives ramen its yellow color and chewy texture. And yet, such simple elements combine to make mouthwatering magic, casting a spell on anyone who sees and smells the noodles. Until my trip to Sun Noodle, I’d only ever seen ramen in dry (instant) or cooked form. Now, for the first time, I got to hold freshly-made noodles in my hands and inhale their sweet, starchy aroma. Trust me: This sublimely sensual experience creates an instant craving to cook and consume!

I learned how to make cold ramen served with a variety of toppings. This elegant, refreshing dish is called hiyashi chuka. Nakamura-san demonstrated how to boil noodles to the perfect “al dente” consistency. The noodles he chose are relatively thin, size 24; as with Italian pasta, the higher the number, the thinner the noodle.

When preparing ramen for hiyashi chuka, it’s important to double the cooking time for desired tenderness, because “shocking” the noodles in cold water makes them firmer. After plunging the boiled noodles in a separate pot of cold water to stop them from over-cooking, I was ready to “plate up” by adding the toppings, then finishing with a generous drizzle of tare (sauce). The julienned toppings are long and thin, just like the noodles. That’s deliberate, so the ingredients will incorporate effortlessly, resulting in a balanced dish that is not only more attractive, but also easier to slurp. Served with cold beer, this would be fantastically festive fare for a dinner party with friends on a hot summer night.

—– Reported by Julia Szabo

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Sun Noodle New Jersey LLC
375 North St., Unit O, Teterboro, NJ 07608
TEL: 201-530-1100  |  www.sunnoodle.com

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At the New Jersey headquarters of Sun Noodle, Chef, Shige Nakamura earns his Ramen Master reputation. Give him a “Like” on Facebook!

 

Cook ramen at a rapid, rolling boil, in a tebo (wire basket) — there’s no need to add salt to the water.

 

Nakamura-san demonstrates how to arrange veggie and protein toppings artfully atop the noodles, in a visually pleasing circular pattern.

 

Your reporter tries her hand at ramen prep! Here I am transferring the noodles from boiling pot to cold-water bath.

 

Summertime ramen, ready to slurp. A colorful array of toppings — cucumber, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, tamago (egg omelet), and ham — makes this delicious cold noodle dish look like edible ikebana.