My shirt was glued to my skin, the air was humid and it was really, really hot. The street was noisy and hectic: the cars were honking, people were yelling, the billboards were making loud noises. And I couldn’t understand anything out of it. I was in Tokyo.
I had just arrived, I was confused and tired because of the jetlag and I was starving. So I just picked one.
A small restaurant with few long wooden tables and a lot of men slurping long noodles out of soup bowls. I ordered a soup as well. A ramen soup. It wasn’t anything special, mainly noodles, broth and halved egg on top but it was a damn good soup. So I ate and ate. On the halfway I was full, but I just couldn’t stop, I wanted to get every drop of that broth, and I did.
After the lunch I got into my hotel. Young and very polite (as everybody in customer service in Tokyo) girl checked me in and came with me to carry my luggage. I felt it was unnecessary, but she insisted.
As we got into the elevator she asked shyly:
“How many months”
I didn’t understand at all: “Excuse me?” And she repeated: “How many months?” and this time she looked at my stomach.
I’m not an overweight person and I don’t think I have very big stomach. But after the huge bowl of noodles, yes, there might have been a small bulge on my belly. And I nearly started laughing: “Oh! I’m not pregnant!” She answered quickly: “Yes you aal.”
Now I was getting really confused: “No, I’m not. At least not that I know of.” She was getting pale and tried one more time: “But yes you aal..?”
I shook my head.
Her voice started to shiver: “But they say to me that thele is a gil who is plegnant!”
I felt sorry for her: “Oh, then it must be somebody else.. But I had a really big lunch though!”
As I was tapping on my belly and tried to lighten up the atmosphere, we got into my floor, her face had turned completely white and I could see horror in her eyes. Now she sounded like a scared robot: “I’m solly, I’m solly, I’m so so solly! They say! I’m solly..”, she kept on repeating as she took my luggage into my room.
I tried to say it’s okay but she just kept on walking backwards, bowing and repeating how sorry she was. It was terrible. She was in total panic and I tried to calm her down. She refused to take any tip and was still bowing on her way out.
After I closed the door I could still hear her being sorry.
And I never saw her again. But I always think of her when I eat ramen soup.
First the broth, the dashi. You need to do it the day before. This is the easiest broth you’ve ever made. And it’s brilliant, make few litres and freeze/storage in a fridge. Take as much as you need and add the ingredients that you want to use on that dinner. Of course you can use a ready-made broth but why would you wanna do that, because making one is this easy:
1 l water
60-85 g dried shiitake mushrooms
(+ 2 tbsp miso paste and 2 tbsp soy sauce)
Remove any dirt from the dried mushrooms and place in 1 liter of water. It is important to submerge the mushrooms, so place something on top of them, and set them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove the mushrooms, squeezing out as much liquid from them as you can. Set the mushrooms aside, strain the remaining liquid. Heat it and it’s ready! I added 2 tablespoons of miso paste and two table spoons of soy sauce to get more flavors to my broth.
3-4 bunches baby bok choy
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
2 spring onions, sliced
2 boiled eggs
shiitake mushrooms from your dashi
1 pack whole grain ramen noodles
dried or fresh chilies
tamari, soy sauce or miso, to taste
Soft boil the eggs. Stir-fry the chopped bok choy with the sliced garlic. Julienne the carrots, slice the spring onions, slice the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. You can quickly toss them in the pan to get some heat as well.
Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. While the noodles are boiling, ladle the hot broth into the bowls. Add the hot noodles and all other ingredients.
Recipe: My New Roots
And hey, the beautiful bowl is made by photographer Kreetta Järvenpää , check out her ceramics! I just love them.