Homemade Short Rib Ramen Noodle Soup with Caramelized Onions
Amazing Homemade Ramen Noodle SoupIf your ramen noodle soup experience is limited to dried packages of noodle soup cups you get at the grocery store you are in for a big treat. This recipe is a modification of a recipe created by Amiel Stanek and published by Bon Appetit in March 2020. This ramen noodle soup is a great pandemic recipe to make in bulk and freeze. The genius of this recipe is the mashup of delicious Asian flavors with a fantastic amount of caramelized onions.
Weekend Cooking Project that Can Be Broken Up Into Two DaysThis noodle soup will take a little time. Embrace it knowing that you are going to wind up with a killer soup for dinner and a freezer full of delicious future meals. There are two main steps to making this soup: one is making the broth, and the second is caramelizing the onions. These are discreet activities that can be done on the same day or on two different days. The order as to which step you do first is flexible, but I prefer to make the broth a day in advance. This gives you a chance to refrigerate the broth, which causes the fat to coagulate on top, making it simple to skim off. Please, don't skim all of the fat off as it adds to the flavor and lusciousness of the broth.
My ModificationsI have modified this noodle soup recipe from the original. I start by increasing most of the ingredients by a good 50%, because if you are going to do all this work, you might as well have a great stash in your freezer. I use a combination of chicken and beef broth instead of plain water when making the broth because I think it results in richer and more layered flavor. I also add a lot more liquid than the original recipe calls for, otherwise I feel the broth would be far too thick. I have reduced the amount of onions the original recipe calls for, but I take great care in caramelizing them to extract maximum flavor. I use my own method of to caramelize them, which you can read more about below.
Large Enameled Cast Iron PotsThe main pinch point for making this soup will likely be the size and number of heavy bottomed pots you own. I happen to be a Le Creuset pot admiral and own five of these kitchen workhorses. I know that seems crazy, but believe me, I use them all, all the time. This allows me to make the soup all at once if I choose, but I recognize everyone doesn't own this kind of hardware. So a limitation on proper pots is a second reason to break the project up into two days as you will want to use the same pot (or pots) for searing the meat and getting the broth started as you will use for caramelizing the onions. You can also use a cast iron skillet or a good stainless steel pan to sear the meat and caramelize the onions, then transfer to a stock pot when you build the broth.
My Favorite Dutch Ovens
Photo credit: AmazonIf you are thinking about investing in a Dutch oven, here are some of my favorites. My personal preference is for the largest Le Creuset you can afford; shoot for at least a 7 1/4 quart and a 9-quart is even better. These very expensive, life-time pots will produce much joy over the course of your life. In France they are said to be one of the most fought over inheritance items. Another brand of similar quality and price to Le Creuset is Staub. I once asked an expert what the difference between Le Creuset and Staub was and they told me the major difference was the age of the buyer. In France, the older generation of cooks buys Le Creuset and the younger generation buys Staub. I own one Staub and three Le Creuset so I guess that tells you how old I am!
Note: SNFD is an Amazon affiliate and we may make a small commission when you purchase items through our links.
Photo credit: AmazonIf a Le Creuset or Staub is not in your budget, don't despair. There are two much more economical brands I recommend. The first is Lodge. You can purchase an enormous 7.5 quart Lodge enameled cast iron pot for $88 on Amazon at the time I wrote this post. These are suitable for cooking anything you would normally cook in a Le Creuset or Staub. The most significant shortcoming is the fit of the lid, which tends to be a little loose, but is definitely not a deal breaker, especially when you consider the price differential.
Photo credit: AmazonThe other brand I recently discovered, which is slightly more pricey than a Lodge, but significantly less than a Le Creuset or Staub is Cuisinart. I recently purchased a 5-quart Cuisinart for my husband who has taken up bread making, and I am truly impressed with the quality and value.
Make in BulkMy version of this recipe makes about 10 - 12 servings. If you simply don't have the pots to make this amount, you can cut the recipe in half, although I do encourage you to make the entire amount if possible. I promise that you will be sorry if you don't.
The Short RibsThere are two cuts of short ribs: English cut and flanken. English cut are sliced along the length of the bones so that there is one bone in each piece. Flanken short ribs are thin slices that cross over multiple bones and are the style ribs used in Korean Kalbi short ribs recipes. Boneless English style short ribs are also available, but I recommend using bone-in as the bones will add to the depth of flavor of your broth. This recipe uses English cut ribs that are further sliced into two inch pieces. Ask your butcher to prepare the ribs for you in this style as you will not be able to cut through the thick ribs on your own.
Start by Searing the RibsYou want to get a good sear on all sides of the ribs, which will mean searing all four sides of the ribs. Dry the ribs well and season with kosher salt and pepper. Start with a hot pan, add the oil and when it shimmers you are ready to sear the ribs. Don't overcrowd or you will not get a good sear. So plan on working in batches. When ribs are seared, set aside.
Starting the BrothClean and cut your green onions to separate the green part from the white part. Refrigerate the green parts until you are ready to serve as they will be used to garnish the noodle soup. Peel and slice the ginger and then lightly smash the ginger and peeled garlic cloves. I use my garlic rock to smash both the garlic and the ginger. You cook these aromatics in the same pan you seared the ribs in and in the residual oil. Assemble your spices: black pepper corns, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves and whole coriander. With all these great flavors you know this broth is going to be amazing! Add the spices to the aromatics and cook a few minutes to bring out their flavor and aroma. Now deglaze with some wine and reduce the liquid. Add chicken broth, beef broth, soy sauce and the seared beef ribs and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour and a half until the meat is starting to fall off the bones. Remove the meat and set aside to cool. Once cool, you will shred the meat and put it back into the pot. If you do not plan to finish the soup in the same day, however, I recommend holding off on adding the meat back in. Instead, refrigerate the broth without the meat. This will allow you to easily skim off any residual fat the next day, after which you can add the shredded meat back to the broth.
Caramelizing the OnionsI have a great post on caramelizing onions that is worth checking out before you start this recipe. There are several things to consider:
- How to slice the onions (go for a stem to stern slice).
- Never overcrowd or your onions will steam and not brown. Therefore, you want to use your largest heavy-bottomed pan or pans.
- Keep the heat low and stir frequently.
- Add a splash of wine or broth if they start to brown and stir to scrape up any of the tasty brown bits (called fond in French cooking) forming on the bottom of the pan.
- Once the onions are caramelized they will keep in the fridge for several days.
Not Just Any Noodles Will DoOnce you go through the labor of making this delicious soup you don't want to throw any old ramen noodles at it. I splurged and went right to the same source used by famous noodle restaurants like Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York and Ramen Hood in LA. Sun Noodle is a craft ramen company that was founded in Honolulu by a second generation Japanese noodle maker. They now also make ramen noodles in California, New Jersey and New York. Sun Noodle ships to your home for a flat fee of $15. Two servings of their artisanal ramen sells for $2.99 and freezes very well, so consider stocking up to get the most out of your shipping cost. They also offer complete ramen kits with broth, noodles and trimmings. I have some of these on order to try and will report back after I try them.
Garnish for the WinRamen is about three things: the broth, the noodles and the garnish. For this soup I like to garnish with sliced green onion, one half of a soft boiled egg and some thin watermelon radish or mushroom slices. Baby bok choy, mung bean sprouts and spinach are also nice. I like to serve the noodle soup with a squeeze of lime and sriracha for added brightness and heat. Which reminds me, the next time I make this soup I will add some fresh chili to the broth when I cook the ginger, garlic and green onion to give the broth just a bit of heat.
Good Luck on this Winter-Warming Noodle SoupDon't be scared off by the two-step process, or the number of pots you may use to make this wonderful winter noodle soup. I promise the effort will be worth it!
Homemade Short Rib Ramen Noodle Soup with Caramelized French Onions
Yield 10 - 12 servings
This flavorful short rib ramen noodle soup maybe the very ultimate in comfort food. The genius of this recipe is the mashup of delicious Asian flavors with a fantastic amount of caramelized onions. It takes awhile to make, but is worth the effort. Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers.
For the broth:
- 3 T Olive oil
- 5 pounds English-style bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 2" pieces
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 10 green onions, white parts only (reserve green parts for garnish)
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
- 6" piece of ginger, peeled, sliced and lightly smashed
- 9 whole star anise pods
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 12 whole cloves
- 1 T black peppercorns
- 1 T whole coriander seeds
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 3 quarts chicken bone broth
- 3 quarts beef bone broth
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar, adjust to taste
For the onions:
- 2 - 3 T olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and butter or ghee (note: if using multiple pans you will need this amount for each pan)
- 10 onions, peeled and trimmed stem to stern into 1/2" slices
For the noodles:
- 5 ounce serving of fresh ramen per person (I like Sun Noodles from Hawaii, see Headnotes for links)
For the garnish:
You can choose whichever garnish you like best. The only ones I feel adamant about are the green onions, lime wedges and sriracha.
- 1 - 2 green onion (green parts only), sliced per person
- 1/2 to 1 jammy soft-boiled egg, peeled and sliced in half per person
- 4 - 5 thinly sliced watermelon radishes per person
- 1/2 bok choy per person
- Lime wedges
For the broth:
- Season the short ribs with kosher salt and pepper. Heat your largest, heavy-bottomed pot on medium high. When pot is hot add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Sear each short rib on all four sides to obtain a nice crust. Do not over crowd the short ribs or they will steam instead of sear. You will likely need to work in batches even if you have a very large pot. Remove the ribs as they sear and set aside on a platter. Pour out all but a couple tablespoons of the leftover fat in the pot.
- Trim your green onions to separate the white and green parts. Put the green parts in the fridge to use as garnish when you are ready to serve. Heat the residual fat over medium heat and add white parts of green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook until they begin to color, stirring frequently for about 4 minutes. Add the remaining spices: star anise, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and coriander seeds and cook a minute or two.
- Deglaze with the wine, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce until liquid is mostly evaporated. Add the seared ribs back to the pot along with the chicken broth, beef broth and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 90 minutes until the beef is tender and begins to fall off the bone.
- Remove the short ribs including bones and meat from the pot and set aside to cool. Discard the bones and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. The meat will be fatty and grisly in places. That is OK. Discard the very fattiest and grisly pieces, but retain a little of the fat for flavor.
- Strain the broth through a strainer and then return the broth to the pot. As an optional step, particularly if you are taking two days to make the soup, I like to refrigerate the broth at this point so the remaining fat coagulates on the surface, making it easy to remove. I don't remove 100% of the fat, because I think it enhances the flavor. Once the broth is strained and the excess fat removed you can add the shredded meat back to the broth.
For the onions:
- Heat your pan over medium flame and add the olive oil or a mixture of olive oil and butter or ghee. Add your onions and a healthy pinch of kosher salt. The salt helps to pull the water out of the onions, which is the first step in caramelization.
- Lower the heat to somewhere between medium low and low, low enough so your onions cook slowly and don't burn. Stir frequently in the beginning, scraping up any of the bits that start to color on the bottom of the pan. When the pan gets dry and the onions start to stick, add a splash of broth or wine to deglaze the pan. The pan will immediately begin to steam and release the onions. Give the pan a good scrape with a wooden spoon to remove all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Feel free to deglaze as needed.
- Continue cooking and stirring until the onions are golden brown, about 40 minutes total.
Putting it all together:
- Combine the finished broth, shredded meat and onions in a large soup pot. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce heat to low for about 30 minutes.
- Add rice vinegar to taste.
Cook the noodles:
- Cook your noodles to the package directions. They typically only take a couple minutes. Strain out the cooking water and place noodles in the bottom of oversized soup bowls. Add broth to each bowl.
- Garnish with sliced green onions, egg halves, radish slices, bok choy or spinach. Finish with a squeeze of lime and sriracha to taste.
The onions can be caramelized a day in advance or made while the broth is developing. One reason to break up the process is you may be limited in the number of suitable pans you have. The initial stages of searing the ribs and making the broth are best done in a Le Creuset-type cast iron enamel Dutch oven. Likewise, Dutch ovens are the ideal type of pans to caramelize your onions, but you can also use a cast iron skillet, or a heavy stainless steel pan.
It is important not to overcrowd your onions when you caramelize them. I used three Le Creuset Dutch ovens to caramelize all the onions at the same time. If you don't have enough suitable pans you may need to work in batches to get all these onions properly caramelized. If you choose to make the onions a day in advance they will keep refrigerated for several days.
Cuisine New American, Asian, French