Where to begin? The lost hours shopping for ingredients in Little Tokyo, the multiple visits to Jacob at Huntington Meats in search of pork bones, the phone calls and texting between me and my coconspirator Alex, the recipe that redirected us to no fewer than seven other recipes, or the mountains of dishes occupying every last inch in our kitchen? Well, let’s begin at 7:30 am yesterday, when I ignited the gas flame on our monster of a Wolf range and started this damn broth.
7:30 am Chang’s ramen recipe begins, apparently without irony, by saying “First, get everything ready.” Yeah, thanks. So the way Alex and I divvied up labor meant that she spent the previous evening slow-roasting pork butt and belly for HOURS on end. I was starting a broth that would take over 10 hours to make. It begins with rinsing konbu and then simmering over high heat.
8 am … feed Tiny G breakfast, remove konbu…shiitakes simmering for 1/2 hour.
8:30 am … spoon out mushrooms with a spider…chicken legs go into the broth, pork bones go into the oven to roast for an hour
9 am: flip pork bones, back into oven
9:30 am: pork bones come out of oven
9:45 am: chicken legs come out of the broth; pork bones and bacon go in. Mr Foodinista and I walk over to Larchmont for bagels and run into GastroKid’s Hugh Garvey with Violet and Desmond at Sam’s Bagels, continue up street and run into Alex and her kids. Alex pulls a tupperware of pickled vegetables for our dinner from her daughter’s stroller for us to try. They’re insane! Particularly the pickled Asian pear.
10:45 am … back home in time to remove bacon (don’t worry – Tiny G and his Aunt Claire were at home keeping an eye on the broth)
11: 30: Tiny G goes down for nap. Shower. Drive to….
12 pm: Chanel “Blue Satin” manicure with Sandra on Wilshire x Crescent Heights (310-292-2263)
1 pm: bring dashi and mirin to boil, simmer pistachios for one hour (for salad course)
2pm: fry ground chicken patty, reheat puréed cauliflower and chop apple for Tiny G’s lunch
2:10 pm: drain braised pistachios and purée with water … chop radishes and toss with salt and sugar (for salad)
3 pm: write out place cards and set table for 10.
4:30 pm: chop two bunches collard greens and simmer with water, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, brown sugar for 40 mins.
5:20 pm: change into Dolce & Gabbana ghetto gold leaf bracelet, J Brand black twill and an Anna Sui top—the latter is not only Chinese red but a nod to Chinese New Year!
5:30 pm: add scallions, chopped onion and carrot to broth
6 pm: test water for temperature (140 – 145 degrees) and add eggs to slow poach for 45 minutes—Chang’s signature technique is also known as onsen tamago, or “bath eggs”
6:15 pm: Alex and her husband Greg arrive with roasted pork butt and pork belly. I remove bones and veggies from broth and strain thru cheesecloth into pot. As you may have ascertained, I’ve also uncorked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc…
6:25 pm: Alex removes layer of fat from pork belly.
6:30 pm: Greg preps sashimi course with spoils from Fish King in Glendale:
6:45 pm: Remove eggs from hot water and put into ice bath. My sister’s date arrives to take her to Avatar at the Cineramadome and a late dinner at Street. Claire has spent most of the afternoon outdoors so as not to smell like rendered fat when he picks her up…
7:05 pm: Neighbors Martha and Alex A. arrive with Sapporo.
7:10 pm: Neighbors Alyssa and Chris arrive; Chris is pulling his kids’ radio flyer wagon with a cooler full of assorted Hitachino Nest beer. Here he is serving our very chic neighbor and documentary film producer Martha.
7:10 pm: Tokyo expats and neighbors Whit and Jen arrive with Yebisu beer and sake. Jen designs the MOST amazing Japanese baby clothes under her NOKO label.
8 pm: Sashimi course, beautifully assembled by Greg…
8:20 pm: Fry oyster mushrooms in grapeseed oil and finish with sherry vinegar. Plate salads…pistachio purée, radishes, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, radish greens, pickled sunchokes and braised pistachios…
8:40 pm: Whit delivers treatise on saké. He knows his stuff. And we toast to living on the greatest block in all of Los Angeles!
9 pm: Alex D. and I sneak out to kitchen, aided by Jen, to assemble ramen. Water boiling for ramen, running long poached eggs under hot water, seaweed torn and distributed among bowls, broth ladeled into bowls, stewed bamboo shoots (prepared previous evening) reheated and distributed among bowls along with ramen, chopped scallions, collard greens, eggs, INSANELY good roasted pork belly and pork butt…
9:10 pm: And here’s a funky one of me peeling and liberating all those damn eggs…tricky…
9:20 pm: Ramen is served! Was it worth it? OH. MY. GOD. YESSSSSSSSSSSS. What followed involved mochi for dessert, an ill-advised late-night decision to crack some Champagne, 30 Year Balvenie single-malt for some, vodka + tonic for others, more beer and Cuban cigars. Yowza.
1 am: And the aftermath? Happy Valentine’s Day!