Chili-Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup

>> Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chili-Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup

It's called convergence: when separate things come together at once. For me, a longing for some hot, light but still filling food came right after preparing some hearty, belly-warming meals. At the same time, I got my February 2013 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, with an article on how ramen will take over as the world's next comfort food. Then I went to Penny's Noodle Shop in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago for a cheap and filling BBQ pork ramen lunch. Mmmm. Time to make some at home.

I'm not talking about those little 25-cent packages that we all ate during lean times. There's a whole world of ramen out there, in four basic broth styles: Shoyu, a soy sauce base; Shio, a light seafood broth; Miso, using either a light or medium miso paste; and Tonkotsu, a buttery-thick soup made of simmered pork bones. Authentic ramen soup relies on a composition of the ingredients, added at a certain time to maximize the flavor and crispness of the ingredients, rather than a long simmer together as is done with lots of soups and stews.


This light and spicy version uses ingredients that you can probably find pretty easily. Once the chicken is ready, have all the other ingredients ready to go because you'll want to cook, assemble, and bring the decorated bowls to the table at once. Presentation is very important in Asian cooking.

We're going to tackle Tonkotsu one of these days...I think I'll be handling my first pork trotters (pig feet) to make it! Er, Joe will be handling the trotters, actually. It's in our marriage vows that he handles the raw meat.

Chili-Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup (Shoyu ramen)

Here is the cast of characters for this dish, minus the noodles that I somehow forgot to put into the picture. You can also see my badly defrosted chicken breast. I don't know, I think I've still got flu fever. Chili-garlic paste is supposed to be very good for sickness.


1 large chicken breast
2 tbsp Asian chili-garlic paste
Juice of 1/2 lime
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup Tamari (sweetened soy sauce) or regular soy sauce
15 oz dry thin wheat noodles, Ramen-style*
4 cups bok choy, coarsely chopped
2 cups mung bean sprouts
2 stalks of green onion, sliced


Cut the chicken breast in half. Rub the chili garlic paste on all sides of the meat, then sprinkle the meat with the lime juice. Marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Roast in the oven or on a grill until just done, about 30 minutes. Keep the chicken warm while bringing the broth to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the sesame oil and soy sauce. Reduce to a simmer, and add the noodles. Cook according to package directions.

When the noodles are cooked, stir in the bok choy and bean sprouts and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the bok choy is slightly wilted. Ladle the soup and noodles into bowls. Slice the chicken across the grain into bite-sized pieces, and place on top of the soup. Sprinkle with the green onions before serving.

*Note: Those little packages of Ramen noodles are fried in palm oil, which is why they are high in fat and calories. If you object to that much oil, try to find unfried noodles, or substitute other thin Asian wheat noodles.

Serves 2.


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