|Ramen bowl. (Photo by Denny Culbert/ Shoot. Eat. Repeat.)|
The most people I've ever cooked for was fifteen and that was in my own home. Somehow I managed to get myself into a cook-off that will mostly likely feed three times that many people in a local restaurant this evening. Even worse, the food to be cooked is ramen, which after some research turns out is more of a Japanese art form than a way to feed broke American college students. I'm a little nervous to say the least.
Ramen shop owners in Japan spend their whole lives striving to create the perfect bowl of noodles and broth. I spent five weeks on mine. It's no where near perfect, but my broth is hearty, and my noodles are fresh and springy. My ramen infatuation started because of David Chang's first issue of Lucky Peach, which was dedicated entirely to the Japanese noodle soup. When I mentioned that I'd been sampling all the instant ramen at the local Asian Market to my friend and co owner of The Saint Street Inn, Nathan Stubbs, the idea of a small Lafayette ramen cook-off was born. Since then I've practiced making my broth and my own noodles with the help of the Momofuku cookbook and various websites and blogs. I even watched the cinematic masterpiece The Ramen Girl (2008) starring Britney Murphy (think The Karate Kid with noodles and lots of whining.)
I've managed to concoct a broth flavored by Louisiana blue crabs, konbu (kelp), dried shiitake, leek and tasso. My noodles are homemade as well, and are pretty simple to make when a stand mixer, pasta machine and willing assistant are involved. The picture above is what my finished bowl looks like. It's topped with green onion, seaweed, daikon radish slices, white mushrooms, tasso and a slow poached egg.
Tonight is the big night, I'll be making my ramen at The Saint Street Inn against Chef Collin Cormier of Viva la Waffle. If you're near Lafayette, come out, slurp some noodles, and help crown a winner in our friendly little showdown. The event gets started around 6 p.m. visit the Saint Street Inn website for more details.