One of the few things in this world that Josh loves more than a good bowl of soup is the work of Hayao Miyazaki. We have watched every film of his available in English, and most of those multiple times. His favorite is Spirited Away, but his younger sister has two equal faves: My Neighbor Totoro and Ponyo.
Without going into too much of a plot summary: Ponyo is the story of a little, magical fish who is rescued by a young boy, and who decides she wants to become a little girl. It is an extremely cute and wonderful film. Early in the film, Ponyo tastes her first bite of ham and falls madly in love with it. Later on, Ponyo (now a little girl), eats ramen soup garnished with egg, veggies, and of course…ham.
As it turns out, Josh’s baby sister loves ham just about as much as Ponyo does, so when I decided to make a ramen-inspired soup one night, Josh and I knew that we had to include ham in honor of little sister and magic fish alike.
8 cups water
2 tablespoons red miso
2-3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
About 2″ of daikon, cut into 12 discs
6 oz firm tofu, cut in small cubes
8 oz. udon (or somen, if you prefer)
4 slices of ham, sliced thick
1 bunch choy sum or other Asian greens
mung bean sprouts
Whisk the miso into 1/2 cup of warm water, then add it, the soy sauce, the diakon, and the remaining 7-1/2 cups water to a soup pot. Bring to just under a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the tofu cubes and the four slices of ham. You should start a separate pot of water to boil for your noodles around now as well.
Poach your eggs in the egg-poaching vehicle of your choice. I use small, glass ramekins in a boiling water bath, but use whatever you like, as long as your finished product is a nice, round disk of egg. You will want to poach your eggs hard. While they are cooking add the choy sum to the soup–whole leaves, but with stems removed. Continue to simmer.
By now your noodle water should be ready. Salt the water and add your udon or somen. Cook according to package directions. When the noodles are finished, strain. You are now ready to begin building bowls.
Laying out the soup is about as much fun as eating it. Portion your noodles in each bowl. Remove the greens and the ham slices from the soup and set aside for a moment. Ladle in the soup, making sure to get some diakon and tofu in each bowl. Next, cut the large ham pieces in half, placing two slices in each bowl, to one side. Add a portion of greens, then one egg, some kim chee, and a pinch of bean sprouts.
Not everyone likes all of the ingredients in this soup, so by all means adjust to your tastes (honestly, I am the only one who likes the kim chee). Serve with sriracha, and eat while watching the Miyazaki film of your choice.
Anyone want to guess which movie we saw last weekend?