I firmly hold the belief that in creative work it's the 99% perspiration that matters at the end of the day. Every now and then though two unrelated neurons fire and combine and create that spark, that tickle in the brain. You gotta give those type of thoughts room to exist, give the flash of inspiration its due. Unfortunately that leads me to cooking at strange hours of the evening.
Tonight, I was craving ramen, but most ramen places close by are already done for the day. How could I experience ramen without having to cook a long drawn out broth? Technically I cant, but I can try to highlight one of my favorite aspects of it.
My favorite part of eating a bowl of tonkotsu ramen is biting into the runny yolk egg. I usually save this moment to near the end. Delicately balancing it on your soup spoon, you take a bite, the hot yolk gushes in, it combines with the rich tonkotsu broth, with hints of seaweed and chopped green onion. Truly a ritual to savor.
This appetizer tries to capture that same feeling of biting into a ramen egg, but without the broth. Instead of steaming pork broth, it's been re-imagined with the crunchy texture of a light pork rind. A seasoned piece of seaweed helps cradle the egg yolk, and prevents the pork rind from becoming soft. The aromatic pungency of Green onions is pared with the astringency of thick balsamic and the subtle heat of Korean red pepper flakes. Then a pinch of Furikake is added on top.
The yoke itself is carefully injected with soy sauce (inspired by one of my favorite local ramen shops) and it gushes out a rich swirl of gold and umber.
The spoon will be served to the guest, and the server will gash open the egg with a knife and tell the guest to consume it as quickly as possible
It's a remix, the chords/flavors are the same (egg yolk, bonito, wakame, green onion, soy, pork) just set to a different key and beat. That's why I love cooking, your iteration cycle is so fast and the feedback you get when you make something is so visceral and immediate. You know when something is working, be it taste, texture, aesthetics, even sound. It's harder to fool yourself, for me food is such a core thing I have no illusions of importance or ego, it's either good or it isn't. You're not trying to cure cancer, or end world pollution. You have a very straighforward problem that you have most control over all of its elements.
That's why I cook when I'm stressed, or busy, it's a way of taking a break from a design problem in my working world, by tackling another in my own domain. Failures are ok, at the end of the day almost every failure is still edible. It's still doing you the good of providing you calories. For example, this took three tries, here's what I learned from each attempt:
first round: just a poached egg with a pork rind. Results were exactly what I expected, and nothing more, wasnt even worth photographing. throwing two ingredients together does not a dish make, but it provided a valuable baseline of what my major players were going to do.
Round two: when I poached the egg I took away most of the white, leaving just a minimal white membrane to cover the yolk. From this reduced yolk, I came up with the idea of injecting the egg with soy sauce. The act of biting into yolk led to a pressurized pop of yolk that drowned out all other flavors. The pickled green onion garnish was overpowered.
Round three: I made my green onion strips much larger, and set the whole assembly on a large ramen soup spoon. I decided to cut the yolk before biting to prevent the water balloon effect. cutting it allowed the yolk/soy mixture to trickle out appealingly and the spoon caught the spillover. Success, the flavors came together at the right pace and time. Delicious.
Is it perfected after three tries? Certainly not. Yet for the sake of my cholesterol I can't be eating egg yolks and porkrinds en masse all evening. What I can say is that the itch has been scratched. It will be shelved until a later date, or maybe provide inspiration for something else. Bon Apetit y'all.
RECIPE: RAMEN EGG APPETIZER
-roasted korean seaweed
-furikake bonito flavor
-filipino pork rinds (lighter and fluffier than others)
-small needle/injecting device
-pinch red pepper powder
-green onion thick white stalk sliced into narrow slivers
-thick balsamic vinegar
-ramen soup spoon.
-thick paper towel
In a small 2 quart pot boil water with a few spoonfuls of white vinegar. take your green onion slivers and pickle in balsamic, rub in pepper flakes, let sit. Select two large rather flat pork rinds, that have a bowl shape to them, and place onto Ramen spoon. In boiling water drop crack the egg, immediatly use a spoon or utensil to separate most of the white from the yolk. keep the yolk in the center of the rolling boil to poach, about 1 minute. Prep an injection tool with about 1ml soy sauce. Use a slotted ladel to extract the poached egg. With a paper towel in your other hand, very carefully roll the egg onto the towel to dry off excess moisture. choose the least attractive side, this will be your downfacing side, inject the soy very carefully into the runny portion of the egg. This doesnt have to be the yolk, but the space adjacent to the yolk near one edge. if you do it slowly most of the soy sauce will stay inside. Now take a square of seasoned seaweed, and cover the "ugly side" of the egg. You can now flip the egg over and lay the egg onto your pork rinds, seaweed side down. take your pickled green onion garnish. place in two diagonals on top of the egg. Sprinkle furikake over egg, then add a drop of hot sauce. To serve, slice diagonally quickly, and let the yolk flow over the pork rinds, tell guest to eat in two bites.