HANAZONO CRAB RAMEN
If you travel to Niesko and start asking about where on the slopes it’s best to eat, it’s very likely that one of the first things you’ll hear about is the crab ramen in Hanazono. And, for a change, the restaurant that serves it is does not require a mission to find! Only when you do arrive, you might ask yourself if you’re in the right place…
At the bottom on the main slope of the Hanazono ski area, on the left-hand side, there is a large visitor centre, and inside, a pretty conventional looking ski-cafeteria serving all the stuff you usually find on-slope – hot dogs, burgers, spag-bol, big plates of fries. But continue to the far left counter – you’ll see, the one with the queue! (Lots of waiting for the best things in Niesko, but once again, worth it!). Fresh legs of cracked King crab over a steaming bowl of ramen noodles, a white miso broth, sweet corn, bamboo shoots, spring onions, and chilli floating on top. The only problem now being getting your hands clean enough afterwards to put back into ski gloves!
(Makes 2 big bowls of ramen)
- 1 piece of konbu, 4 x 6cm
- 750ml of water
- 1½ cups dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- 110g white miso paste (shiro miso)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 50ml soy sauce
- 1 mid-sized, approx. 500g, crab (either cooked or live) – Snow, Hairy, Atlantic, or even Swimmer crabs all work well. If you can buy fresh-cooked King Crab legs, even better.
- 55g fresh ramen noodles
- Handful of fresh bean sprouts
- 100g (drained weight) canned bamboo shoots
- 50g (drained weight) canned corn
- 1 spring onion – finely sliced
- 1 mild red chilli – finely sliced (optional)
- 30g butter – cut into two slices
If you’d like even more toppings, you could also add:
- Soy eggs (recipe here)
- Shredded nori
Start by making the dashi or base broth:
Using a pair of scissors, cut a couple of small incisions in your piece of konbu. Then, fill a medium saucepan with water and add the piece of konbu. If you have time to leave this soak for a few hours, do so, as this will make for a more intense stock, otherwise, place it directly over medium heat.
Carefully watch the water as it nears boiling point, and just before it does so, as small bubbles are beginning to form around the rim of the water, remove the konbu from the water, and take the saucepan off the heat. (If you allow the water to boil with the konbu in it, the resulting stock will become bitter in taste, and have a slightly slimy texture).
Discard the konbu, or, if you wish, keep it to boil a second time to create another, lighter type of stock called nisban dashi. Both types of dashi store up to a week in the fridge, and up to a month in the freezer.
Next, add the bonito flakes to the saucepan, and place back over a medium heat. This time, let the broth boil, but once boiling, continue to cook for only 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, remove the pan from the heat, and allow the bonitio flakes to settle to the bottom. (Approximately 10 minutes).
Strain the stock using a sieve. The bonito flakes can be kept for niban dashi, or discarded.
Now, pour the strained dashi broth into a sealable container, and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
First, prepare the dashi broth as per the instructions in the previous recipe, then refrigerate until ready to use.
If you are cooking your crab from live, place it in the freezer first for 40 minutes to render it unconscious before cooking. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water (30g salt per litre) to the boil. Drop the crab into steadily boiling water direct from the freezer and cook – 8 minutes for a 500g crab, adjust accordingly for anything smaller or larger.
Drain and allow to cool to room temperature, then remove the claws, and legs. Crack these gently with a nutcracker for easy eating, then pick the body of the crab for white meat and put this aside also.
The ramen is very quick to assemble from here, so turn your attention next to all the topping ingredients and make sure these are all measured out, and positioned close by, ready to use.
Then, place a medium pot of water on to boil ready to cook the ramen noodles.
Alongside, position a second, larger pot, and in the base of this, heat the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the miso paste and fry for around 2 minutes until it darkens. Then, add the soy sauce to the miso, and fry for a few seconds longer.
Next, add the dashi stock to the miso, scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring as you do so until the miso is evenly blended through.
When the pot of water is boiling, add the ramen noodles and cook to your desired texture – around 3 minutes should be enough for fresh noodles.
Drain, then immediately divide the noodle between two serving bowls. Place the bean shoots, bamboo, sliced spring onions, chilli, and corn in separate piles atop the noodles, then ladle the piping hot miso broth directly over the top.
Finish with the white crab meat and cracked claws.