Is Tampa Bay on the precipice of a ramen revolution? The Japanese noodle bowls are already vastly popular in places like New York City, but as food critic Laura Reiley tells us in this week's cover story, ramen is now coming to this area in full force.
Laura visited three new restaurants from Tampa to St. Petersburg, including the bustling Ichicoro Ramen in Seminole Heights, which opened a few weeks ago. In the reviews here, Laura tells us why this hip new spot in particular may be paving the way for more authentic ramen in Tampa Bay.
Having multiple ramen restaurants in the area is exciting for people who seek to slurp (the main way of eating the steaming bowls), because making it yourself it not easy. The key to great ramen is the stock, a deeply complex brew that is made in a variety of traditional styles. (Read more in our Ramen 101.) There are a lot of ingredients — and techniques — involved. For this week's #CookClub recipe, we've chosen a recipe for the home cook's version of ramen, using a slow cooker to help create a flavorful facsimile of true ramen broth. Pork shoulder is used both to flavor the broth and as the meat in these ramen bowls.
If you don't have a slow cooker, you can combine the same ingredients in a large, deep Dutch oven or soup pot and bring the stock to a boil before letting it simmer for the same amount of time.
Many different Asian oils, sauces and spices go into this dish, and if you don't already have them in your pantry, an Asian grocery store like Oceanic Supermarket in Tampa or MD Oriental Market in Pinellas Park is your best bet for finding all of them in one place. Same with the ramen noodles.
And one more tip on this recipe: It makes a lot. If you're feeding four people or fewer, you may want to consider halving the recipe. I had a ton of pork and noodles leftover after feeding four people.
Let the slurping begin.
Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.