There really aren’t that many English cookbooks for “real” ramen. I mean, there’re cookbooks on how to how to make instant ramen more exciting, like this, but if you’re looking for cookbooks on authentic ramen, there’re very few choices.
Along comes Amy Kimoto-Kahn, who’s been offering ramen recipes on her easypeasyjapaneasey blog. Amy’s been doing this for quite a while, and has even graduated from a ramen school in Osaka. She recently published a collection of her recipes and musings on ramen, and was kind enough to send me a review copy.
First of all, this book is gorgeous. Even if you’re not a cook, it’s a lot of fun to flip through the pages and salivate over the pictures. The book starts with recipes for the basic soup bases (shoyu, shio, tonkotsu, miso) and covers everything else from toppings (make your own beni shōga from scratch!) to chahan (spelled cya-han in the book, which annoys me, but that’s just me).
Really, this book is surprisingly comprehensive. It’s not just a bunch of recipes (and there are some really creative ones here…Southern Crawfish Ramen…hmm…tempting…), but you can look at it as a book-length class on ramen-making. It even teaches you how to make your own noodles and chashu from scratch!
I haven’t had a chance yet to try any of the recipes, but even the advanced ones seem easy to follow. I’d still recommend that you understand what’s involved before you dive in to the level 2 or 3 recipes though. And if you’re less ambitious or just short on time, you can always substitute nama ramen as a substitute for made-from-scratch noodles and soup bases in some of the recipes. Some of the ingredients may be hard to find if you don’t live near Asian supermarkets so you may need to adapt accordingly.
This is obviously a work of love and belongs on every ramen lovers bookshelf or kitchen and I encourage you to check it out. It’s available on Amazon as a hardcover or Kindle version, or even on the iTunes store.