Paleo Ramen Bowl

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Have you ever cut through the middle of the grocery store to grab some eggs and passed rows upon rows of instant ramen noodle? I did.

One particular cold and drab day, the fridge was barren, the house was to myself and I was hangry. The plan was to go grocery shopping, come home and have a cook-fest, stocking the fridge with meals for the week.

But this didn’t solve my immediate problem of an empty stomach. And the fact that there was no one at home to judge me in this moment of weakness had these brightly coloured packages of glutinous joy stop me in my tracks. I was once told catastrophic cheats like this help boost your metabolism. “Asima, this is healthy,” I said.

I picked up a package, scanning it with a glimmer of hope that Mr. Noodle came out with a kelp noodle and dried mushroom variety. But he didn’t. So I put it back and quickly sped away before it called me back.

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A few weeks later, with ramen still on the mind and the sniffles going around the house I decided to make a “mock” ramen from some frozen bone broth I had made a month earlier. I didn’t really put much thought into it – quality steak, some herby greenery, an egg (obviously) and some sort of noodley substance.

That bowl blew my mind. During the meal I was told, “we should put this on a weekly lunch rotation.” I was so very proud of myself… until I confidently made the same thing a few weeks later with a different batch of bone broth with ho hum results.  

Three trials later and I’ve got it; this bone broth recipe is based off what my mom, Mark Sisson and Michelle Tam taught me. It takes the bone broth two whole days of babysitting so hire a babysitter or if you know how to use your pressure cooker it takes 2 hours. If you make this ahead of time hands on prep work for the ramen only takes 15 minutes! It’s worth it.

Paleo Ramen Bowl
Serves 2

Ingredients for bone broth (makes 4 quarts):

  • 5 pounds bones (1 pound each of oxtail, beef marrow knuckles, lamb hooves and shoulder bones)
  • 6 quartz water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 3 ribs of celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, quartered
  • 8 ounces dried shiitake and king mushrooms
  • Whole head of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 inches ginger, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons paleo-approved fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • Kosher salt to taste (after it’s made)

Ingredients for ramen:

  • 2 medium sized zucchinis, spiralized OR 1 pack kelp noodles
  • 1 quart bone broth
  • 1 ½ cups hot water
  • Half a sheet of kombu (about 6 grams, to make a dash/stock)
  • 1 (10 ounce) ribeye steak, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • ½ pound shiitake or king mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 soft boiled eggs (I use this method from The Kitchn)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼  cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 finger chilies or thai red chilies
  • Toasted seaweed snack on the side, to crumble in

Method:

Start by adding your fattiest bones to the bottom of a very large stock pot on medium heat. For me, this was the marrow.
When the bones start to release fat, add your other bones and meat to the pot and stir every 2 to 3 minutes. You want the bones and meat to develop a deep brown colour on all sides. You may want to do this in two batches if your pot isn’t big enough.

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At this point add the tomato paste and give it a good stir. You want the sugars in the tomato paste to caramelize. This is key! Take your time.

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Once the tomato paste is well browned, add all the water…

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…Fish sauce, vinegar, peppercorns, vegetables, dried mushrooms and bay leaf. Close the lid and walk away for a very very long time (48 hours).

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But in real life, you will want to check on it every 8 hours to take a whiff or to make sure the liquid levels aren’t dangerously low. My stock pot has a very heavy, tight-fitting lid, so over the course of two days I only lost about a quart and a half.

When 48 hours have passed, open your pot and check the liquid level. If there is still quite a bit of liquid, turn up the heat and reduce it to what looks like 4 quarts. This will be the gnarly sight:

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Put a large fine mesh sieve over a nonreactive bowl or pot big enough to fit 5-6 quarts. Strain the bone broth, discard the bones and if you want, salt to taste.

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If you’re going to use the broth within a few days, refrigerate the broth and skim the fat off the top and reserve (read: tallow fries!)

For use at a later date distribute the broth into jars…

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…Refrigerate until the fat surfaces and hardens.

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Remove the fat off the top and reserve for later use (read again: tallow fries!)

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Screw the jar lids on and pop them into the freezer. I freeze them in one quart jars for two servings and 500mL jars for one serving.

Now onto the easy part – the ramen. Dump one quart of bone broth into a large enough pot, close the lid and set it on low heat.

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First, we want to make the dashi so soak the kombu in 1 and a half cups of hot water and set aside.

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Make your soft-boiled eggs.

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This part is very important. In a medium-sized STAINLESS STEEL pan, sautée your sliced shiitake mushrooms on medium-low heat with 1 tablespoon oil, minced garlic clove and salt and pepper. Once they are done, take the mushrooms out and set them aside.

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In the same pan with all the itty bitty bits of mushroom, add 1 tablespoon oil and set the heat to medium-high. When the oil is heated through, cook your steak to your preference. If you like making your steak in the oven under the broiler, use an oven-safe stainless steel pan. When your steak is done, set it aside and let it rest.

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With the pan still on the heat element, pour the kombu dashi into the pan without the kombu. We want to get all the delicious mushroomy-beefy fond off the bottom of the pan with a flat bottomed wooden spoon.

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Set the heat on high and reduce the liquid for 3 to 5 minutes to about half a cup and add it to your bone broth through a fine mesh sieve. Check your broth for seasoning if you haven’t already.

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Prepare all your toppings – sliced steak, chilies, greenery, eggs, etc.

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Split the spiralized zucchini between the two bowls…

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…Ladle 2 cups each of broth between the bowls…

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Top with all the good stuff. Slurp.

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