The first Monday back in the office following a holiday is always difficult. The brain trudges through a thick swamp of residual Christmas cookie crumbs and the dregs of holiday glühwein, trying to remember what, exactly, it was that it had been focusing on the week before. Combined with the frigid weather (the high today was 4° Fahrenheit) and a dead car battery upon leaving work this evening, there was little appeal in the thought of slaving over the stove brewing up anything extravagant. The lazy woman’s way out is, of course, ramen.
Note that this is not a traditional ramen: I’m fairly certain that my previous statement is an insult to genuine ramen chefs everywhere. There is a time and a place for slow, low, nourishing broths flavored with aromatic herbs, bone marrow, fragrant spices and earthy vegetables.
This is not that time.
This, while still delicious, is a quick broth. It uses pre-made chicken stock as a base and simmers only for 20 minutes or so with a fistful of ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. Plus, a few spoonfuls of white miso thrown in for good measure, if you have some on hand.
As I have mentioned before, soups are the greatest vehicle for recycling leftover produce from the back of the refrigerator drawer. I had asparagus (always an excellent accompaniment to bacon and eggs), rainbow carrot, spinach, scallions, and jalapeno. Bacon and egg, refrigerator staples nearly always on hand, are perfect for a comforting evening meal. We also keep a few packages of varying types of rice noodles in the pantry. I used generic rice noodles similar to the kind used in pad thai; classic ramen uses, naturally, ramen noodles (made from wheat flour, salt, water and kansui). Luckily, ramen is forgiving and works well with many kinds of noodles! Whatever is in the pantry will work.
To serve the ramen, simply prepare the both, fry up some bacon, slice and dice some veggies and a few soft-boiled eggs, and scoop into bowls. The entire meal, full of protein and vegetables, comes together in less than thirty minutes. Enjoy!
Bacon + Egg Ramen
1/2 lb. sliced bacon
4 fresh eggs
2 servings rice noodles
10 stalks asparagus, thinly sliced on a bias
3 heaping cups fresh spinach leaves
1 carrot, sliced into thin curls with vegetable peeler
5 scallions, sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
64 ounces of chicken stock, either prepackaged or homemade
1-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into two-inch sections
seasoned rice wine vinegar
soy sauce or coconut aminos
fresh white miso
salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare broth:
1. Fry the bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat, until firm and crispy. Remove to paper towel.
2. Turn heat in pan down to medium-low, and add ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes, then add two cups of chicken broth. Deglaze the pan, and bring to simmer.
3. Meanwhile, add remaining chicken broth to large stockpot. Add bacon-scented broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes. Turn heat down to low and add balsamic vinegar, seasoned rice wine vinegar, soy sauce/coconut aminos and white miso, to taste. Generous shakes of each sauce, plus a heaping spooful of miso paste, will yield a mildly tangy broth. Salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare vegetables:
4. While the broth simmers, add eggs to a small sauce pan of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, set timer for four minutes and remove to ice bath immediately. (Or, run under cold water and set-aside, resulting in hard-boiled eggs.)
5. Slice jalapeno, scallions, and carrot. Set aside.
6. Using the same boiling water as the eggs, add the asparagus slices and boil briefly for 3-4 minutes, or until soft. Remove and run ice cold water over the asparagus. Set aside.
7. Empty and refill sauce pan with water. Bring to a boil and add rice noodles. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, or according to directions on the package. Reserve in water so as not to stick, until ready to add to bowls.
8. Layer 1.5 cups of fresh spinach at the bottom of one large noodle bowl. Add two scoops of freshly-cooked rice noodles and pour broth through small tea strainer over the noodles.
9. Arrange toppings into wedges around the top of the bowl: asparagus, carrot, egg (two per bowl, halved, for a hearty dinner; one egg for a lighter lunch), jalapeno, and scallion. Finish with bacon (it will quickly become less crispy). Top with sriracha sauce, to taste, and fresh-squeezed lime if desired.
Serves 2, with broth to spare. To serve four, double quantities for vegetables, eggs, and noodles.