Fancified Instant Ramen with Poached Salmon and Half-boiled Ajitama

I eat instant ramen and I won’t hesitate to admit it. In high school I dabbled briefly in the snack food fad that was: uncooked Top Ramen noodles crunched up in the package and sprinkled with the provided seasoning dust. I don’t have a defense for my juvenile lapse in good sense besides it honestly tastes pretty good.

Through the lean times and the abundant, I have always eaten ramen. I’ve had the pleasure of eating legitimate ramen many times and as a result, I’ve refined my home ramen making techniques to meet my heightened expectations. In a pinch, instant ramen noodles can be quickly finessed and improved with the addition of a few seasonings–in this case substituting the provided seasonings completely–and various prepared toppings.

Raw salmon steaks surrounded by onion and seaweed in a pan of shallow brown liquid

Last night I thawed two locally sourced salmon steaks, massaged them with sesame oil, and sprinkled them with black pepper. Then I poached the salmon steaks skin side down atop a layer of green onions in a mixture of water, mirin, and tamari, and seasoned the liquid with sliced white onion, sliced shallots, more green onion, black peppercorns, garlic, lemongrass, ginger root, raw jalapeño and some seaweed.

Poached salmon steaks simmering in poaching liquid

I poached the salmon over low heat in a large pan covered with a glass lid–occasionally lifting the lid to spoon the liquid over the salmon. This allowed the salmon to cook slowly, gently releasing fat and flavor into the poaching liquid. Next I set the cooked salmon aside to keep warm on a plate, covered, and set the pan of poaching liquid aside while I boiled the noodles in a medium-sized pot.

A rectangular cake of uncooked ramen noodles being held by chopsticks over a pot of boiling water

Once cooked, I drained the boiled noodles and set them aside in a large bowl of cool water while finishing the broth.

Cooked onions and jalapeños in a mesh strainer resting over a pot of brown broth

I strained the poaching liquid into the pot I used to boil the noodles and added more water, then seasoned it further with more tamari, mirin, sesame oil, red miso paste, fish sauce, and fermented red chili paste. I brought the broth up to a boil before immediately turning the heat down to low and simmering 5 minutes.

A bowl of ramen on a kitchen counter next to an unopened package of ramen noodles from Public Goods

I drained and placed a serving of noodles in the bottom of a soup bowl, ladled the hot broth generously over the cooked noodles, then topped it with large flakes of warm poached salmon, half-boiled ajitama egg made earlier in the day, fresh scallions, a couple of roasted garlic cloves, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

Close up of a bowl of ramen noodles in a rich brown broth, topped with poached salmon, half-boiled seasoned egg and scallions. Next to the bowl on the table is a yellow cloth napkin and a set of white porcelain chopsticks decorated with blue dragons

While it might not be entirely traditional, this bowl of ramen was complex and satisfying; a damn fine interpretation using things I had on hand.

Now, who’s hungry for noodles?

Bette