Ramen is possibly my favourite thing – like – in the world (and the hubbie of course…but also ramen). You can imagine how excited I was when Ladies in Blogging invited me to learn how to make it from scratch – broth, noodles, the whole shebang – at Sozai Cooking School, a school that focuses exclusively on Japanese cuisine.
Before the class started we had some time to meet and chat with the other bloggers, and to get snapping! Our benches were laid out with detailed recipes, an apron to wear, as well as ingredients for our noodles.
I love cooking Japanese food at home and because ramen is a favourite of mine, I’ve been wanting to try to make it too. I just haven’t been able to find good noodles! I can find udon and soba, but the closest I’ve got is dried ramen that is like what you’d find in an instant ramen pot…you know, the squiggly stuff. It works, but it’s not a patch on what you get in a ramen restaurant. Learning to make fresh ramen noodles was the part of the class I was most excited about, but also the part I thought I would struggle with or not quite get the result I was hoping for. But, Akemi, our instructor demonstrated how to make the dough and talked us through the science behind the steps and the ingredients. It was fun mixing and kneading and feeling for the right texture. We let the dough rest while we got on with other bits and bobs.
When it came to rolling out the dough and cutting it into noodles, I couldn’t believe how easy (and therapeutic) it was, especially using a pasta roller. Now, I’m thinking I might need a new bit of kitchen kit…
During the class we learned how to make not one, not two, but three different types of ramen broth! We weren’t taught to make tonkotsu broth, the type you get in most of the London ramen bars like Shoryu, Kanada-Ya etc. because it takes a day to make. Learning about just how involved the process of making tonkotsu ramen is just makes you appreciate the effort and care that these restaurants put in to what they serve you! Instead, we learned how to make shoyu (soy) ramen, miso ramen, and a cold ramen broth that’s perfect for warmer weather.
Two key toppings for ramen are marinated char siu pork and nitamago egg. Akemi showed us how to make the marinade for the glossy pork belly and explained in detail what each ingredient brings to the flavour including the three different types of rice wine. She was incredibly knowledgeable about all things Japanese food and I just wanted to be able to download her brain somehow!
I love nitamago egg – whenever I order ramen I always order extra egg! The eggs are soft boiled from room temperature in a cold pan with boiling water poured over and cooked for 6 minutes before being peeled and soaked in marinade so that they take on a beautiful flavour and colour. I’ve tried making them at home and just couldn’t get the right texture or colour so it was great to get some pro tips!
Finally we were ready to cook our noodles and put all of the puzzle pieces together. Akemi showed us how to arrange different toppings with the right broth and the order in which you do everything. We plated three mini bowls each so we could try all of the versions without being total piggies, although I was completely stuffed by the time I had eaten them all! We all sat together to eat which I thought was a lovely way to end the class and some of us enjoyed a nice cold Asahi beer too. Everyone seemed really impressed with how delicious the food turned out to be and particularly with the quality of the noodles we had produced!
We left with little Yutaka goody bags from the class sponsors with some organic miso paste, low salt soy sauce, and some shaoxing rice wine. (I’m not sure whether this is something that would be given out in one of their normal classes, or whether it was a one-off for the event.)
Sozai Cooking School run a range of classes all focusing on a different aspect of Japanese cuisine, including sushi, gyoza, and even okonomiyaki. The prices range depending on the class, and at £75 per head I thought the ramen class was worth it – you learn loads of techniques and have the opportunity to ask questions and dig a little into the instructors’ encyclopaedic knowledge! You can find their schedule of upcoming classes on their website where you can book onto the classes and also get gift cards. They also do parties and corporate classes – what an awesome idea for a team-builder! I’ll be suggesting it for our next team summit!
What Japanese food would you want to learn how to make?
I attended this class for free in return for an honest review. The opinions in this post are 100% my own.