A quest to make the perfect ramen

A collage of ramen experimentation . PHOTO CREDIT: Tribune News Service

Almost-instant spicy sesame miso ramen with smoked trout and egg.

I have spent a lifetime experimenting with variations on basic instant ramen, with the vague goal of someday reaching noodle soup perfection.

As with a lot of things, there were instances when I believed I had reached the pinnacle of homemade ramen, only to see a new idea bubble up, hinting that there could be more greatness to be achieved and tempting me to tweak the recipe again.

My life of instant ramen, and the endless variations on it, started decades before ramen was cool, pre-dating this period of young professionals celebrating their birthdays over $12 bowls at trendy ramen restaurants.

I’m Asian American, and ramen was a staple of my childhood — a simple and comforting meal, easy to turn to anytime. I view ramen as comfort food, the way others look at mac-and-cheese.

The following is a twist on instant ramen, a recipe quick and easy enough to make in between Zoom calls. It is not a traditional miso ramen recipe and has a lighter, simplified broth that lets the flavor of the smoked trout shine through.

You can add complexity by replacing the water with stock, or you can dress up the ramen with your favorite vegetables and garnishes. Look for hot-smoked fish in seafood coolers at grocery stores.

Do not use cold-smoked or salt-cured fish, such as lox or gravlax, for this recipe. Hot sesame oil is spicier than regular sesame oil, because it holds the flavors of red chile peppers.

Almost-instant Spicy Sesame Miso Ramen

Makes: 1.

• 2 teaspoons miso paste

• 1 package instant ramen (omit seasoning packet)

or 1 block ramen noodles, preferably

Lotus Foods Millet & Brown Rice Ramen

• 1 egg

• 2 ounces hot-smoked trout or salmon

• 1/8 teaspoon hot sesame oil

In a one-quart pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. While it’s coming to a boil, transfer ¼ cup of the hot water into a small bowl. Add miso paste to the bowl and stir to make a slurry. Pour the miso slurry back into the pot.

Add ramen noodles to the boiling broth. Cook the noodles for 3 minutes, or according to package directions. One minute before the noodles are done, add smoked trout and crack an egg into the pot. Do not stir.

Once the egg white has cooked, pour the ramen into a serving bowl and top with sesame oil. Break the egg yolk into the broth and let it rest for 1 minute before eating the ramen.

Kelly Yamanouchi writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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