Every year around this time I become nostalgic for my life in Japan. Several years ago now I had the rare opportunity to teach and live in Takamatsu, Japan. While I was there living in this island country I tried to embrace everything Japanese. I took Japanese lessons at the community centre every Wednesday. I made Japanese friends. I explored various cities and cultural centres. However, my biggest delight was eating “real” Japanese food from different regions. I don’t think that is a surprise to anyone reading this post. To many Westerners, the Japanese love of food might come as a surprise as it did to me when I first arrived in Takamatsu. One of the most popular conversation topics in Japan is about food. All of my students would ask me what my favourite Japanese food was or what is Toronto famous for. The second question always stumped me because I really didn’t know how to answer my students. In Japan, every region is famous for producing one type of food. The city I lived in is famous for Udon noodles. People all over Japan visit Takamatsu just to sample a bowl of Takamatsu Udon. The city known as Okoyama just north of Takamatsu is known for their Ramon. On our way to the Naked Man Festival in Okoyama, we stopped at the train station for a bowl of this famous Ramon and I have to admit that I have not forgotten the flavours yet. The combination of the salty miso base, the softened vegetables and meaty pork together with the hearty Ramon noodles will be forever etched in my memory file as I slurped down that delicious bowl of Ramon on that drizzly Japanese winter’s day. Last week, as I was remembering my days in Japan I made my version of Ramon. It’s not the Okoyama Ramon I remember fondly but it is pretty close and left me feeling warm and comforted just as I was 7 years ago.
1 packet of miso soup base
1 bunch green onions
1 bag of baby bok choy
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 lbs sliced pork tenderloin
4 packets of Ramon noodles
2 tbsp canola oil
8 cups of water
1. In a stock pot or dutch oven slightly saute the green onion in 2 tbsp of canola oil on medium heat as not to burn the delicate onions.
2. Add the minced garlic and ginger to bring out the flavours or the garlic and ginger.
3. Next add the cherry tomatoes and bok choy. You may want to add other vegetables such as julienne daikon. Saute together with the green onion for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Pour in the water and bring it to a boiling point before adding the miso soup base.
5. Meanwhile pan fry 4 to 6 pork tenderloin rounds marinated in some soy sauce and lemon juice. Set aside and cut into thin slices.
6. Once the water has boiled add the miso soup base to the pot. Stir it in well so that the paste dissolves completely with other ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes and let stand on the burner for 5 minutes. This allows the miso to thicken slightly.
7. In a separate pot boil the Ramon noodles. Follow the instructions on the package but they usually only need 3 minutes to boil.
8. When you are ready to plate the Ramon soup in a generous helping of the Ramon noodles first, followed by the miso soup and topped with several slices of the pork.