Insomnia-Style Ramen Toppings

Gladio eating kakuni“Minced meat is the key to every perfect cup of noodles.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin, divided
  • 2 pounds pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 large knob of ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 2 Japanese green onions (negi) or leeks
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

To make the dashi stock:

Put the kombu in a saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze.

To make the kakuni and eggs:

Combine soy sauce, ¼ cup mirin, and ¾ cup water in a plastic bag and place in a sturdy bowl. Refrigerate for later use.

Pound the pork on both sides with a meat pounder, then use your hands to mold it back into its original shape. Cut into 2-inch chunks.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add pork cubes, fat side down, and sear until brown. Once browned, turn and quickly cook all six surfaces until browned.

Push the meat to one side and add sugar to the liquid fat. Stir until it’s a bit caramelized, then toss with the meat until coated. Transfer meat to a large soup pot and add the star anise.

Peel and cut the ginger into thick slices and add half of it to the pot. Refrigerate the other half for later use.

Remove the white part of the onions or leeks and refrigerate for later use. Chop the green part into 2-inch pieces and rinse well to get rid of any sand or dirt between layers before adding to the pot.

Add water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, carefully submerge eggs using a skimmer or ladle. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Remove eggs and soak in ice bath for 3 minutes.

While the eggs are soaking, cover the pot and continue to simmer for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Gently peel the soft-boiled eggs, place them in the sauce bag so that they are completely submerged, and close tightly. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

When the meat is done cooking, remove the pieces from the pot and transfer to a paper towel. Drain and discard the cooking liquid and vegetables.

Return the meat to the pot and add dashi stock, ¼ cup mirin, sake, soy sauce, and the rest of the ginger slices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes more, until sauce is reduced. Transfer meat and sauce to a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.

Slice the leftover white parts of the onion or leeks into thin matchsticks. Slice the eggs in half.

Serve kakuni cubes on top of ramen with the onion pieces and halved eggs.

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Garula Stock

Gladio eating soup“Any food you make tastes better when you use good ingredients, right?”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

For the broth:

  • Bones from 1 roasted chickatrice
  • 2½ pounds garula trotters, split lengthwise or cut crosswise into 1-inch disks (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or another vegetable oil with neutral flavor
  • 1 bulbous wild onion, skin on and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 head of garlic, skin on and halved crosswise to expose the cloves
  • 1 small knob of Kettier ginger, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped and rinsed well
  • 6 ounces scallions, white parts only (reserve light and dark green parts for garnish)
  • 7 ounces whole alstrooms, or shiitake mushrooms

For the tare:

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 30 grams niboshi (dried sardines)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 1 cup soy sauce

Place chickatrice bones and garula trotters in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, put a heavy frying pan over medium heat and heat grapeseed oil until lightly smoking. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and toast until lightly charred on most sides, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

As soon as it comes to a boil, remove pot from heat, transfer bones to a colander, and rinse well. Using a chopstick and cold running water, remove blood, dark marrow, and anything else that isn’t beige or white.

Return bones to the soup pot and add charred vegetables, leeks, scallion whites, and alstrooms. Cover with cold water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that appears and wiping off any black or grey scum from around the rim of the pot.

Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Check the pot after 15 minutes; it should be at a slow rolling boil. If not, slightly increase or decrease heat as needed. Continue boiling until stock is opaque and thickened to the texture of light cream, about 10–12 hours, checking periodically to ensure bones are submerged and adding more water if necessary.

Remove from heat and let cool until safe to handle, no more than 1 hour. Place a colander on top of a large pot.

Drape with cheesecloth folded into a large square. Strain stock into the colander. Discard bones and vegetables, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Next, make the tare. This is the salty base that you’ll combine with the garula stock when preparing your bowl of ramen. Without the tare, the garula stock is bland and flavorless.

Put the kombu in a bowl and cover with 1 cup water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium saucepan. Add niboshi and saute for about 1 minute over medium heat until golden, being careful not to overcook. Add kombu and soaking liquid. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Set stock aside and discard the fish.

Add the sake and mirin to the empty saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes before stirring in the fish broth.

When you’re ready to prepare your bowl of ramen, bring the garula stock to a simmer over low heat. Place two tablespoons of the tare (fish stock and soy sauce mixture) in a bowl and top with 1 cup hot garula stock. Whisk well to combine and add noodles and toppings.

Seasoned Midgardsormr

Seasoned Midgardsormr“You can never have too many spices.”

—Ignis Scientia, FFXV

You’ll need wooden skewers for this recipe. Make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

  • ½ tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ½ tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • ½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric
  • ½ tablespoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 7 ounces plain Greek yogurt, such as Fage
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 small lemons)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1½” cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cooked basmati rice

Combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, fennel seed, mustard seed, and cloves in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind the toasted spices in a clean coffee or spice mill and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, and cayenne.

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a food processor or blender and add garlic, ginger, and the bowl of spices. Blend until smooth.

In the bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and ¼ cup of the tomato mixture. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in marinade and seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 4 to 8 hours. Transfer the tomato mixture to a storage container and refrigerate.

Thread chicken tightly onto skewers. Heat the tomato mixture in a saucepan over medium heat. When it’s bubbling, stir in cream and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes.

Grill over medium-high direct heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side until well browned on all sides. Transfer skewers to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

In the center of each plate, place a large serving of sauce. Arrange skewers on top and garnish to taste with sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve with basmati rice.

Ignis’s After-Hours Coffee

ignis-3“I might have answered before, but yes it is.”

—Ignis Scientia, FFXV

If you don’t have a coffee maker at home, ask for the tall size at Starbucks.

  • 4 ounces (½ cup) heavy whipping cream
  • 12 ounces (1½ cups) brewed coffee
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) whiskey
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Use an electric mixer to whip cream until thick, but not stiff. Set aside.

Place the coffee, whiskey, and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir to combine. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot but not boiling, about 5 minutes.

Divide between two coffee mugs and top with whipped cream. Makes 2 servings.

Takka’s After-Hours Chili

takka“Y’all wanna fetch some edibles for me?”

—Takka, FFXV

This one isn’t listed on the menu at Takka’s Pit Stop, probably because one of the main ingredients is whiskey. But if you can get on Takka’s good side, he might offer you a bowl after hours.

Make sure you buy Spanish chorizo, not Mexican chorizo (they’re quite different). If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, you can substitute another cured and smoked sausage like salami. The spicier the better!

Finally, when you’re done cutting up the pork shoulder, save the bone in your freezer for stock. I usually have a big bag with vegetable ends, chicken bones, and other assortments. When it gets full, I dump it into a pot, add water, and simmer low for a few hours. Homemade stock is one of the best things you can do to improve your cooking, and it’s easy.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pound pork shoulder, bone removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces raw bacon (half a package), cut into ½” strips
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 14-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  •  4 cups chicken broth
  • 200 ml whiskey such as Jim Beam, divided
  • 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Sour cream
  • Chives

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add onions and celery and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Stir in beans, chipotles, cumin, broth, and ½ cup whiskey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours, until pork is tender.

Stir in chorizo and remaining ¼ cup whiskey. Simmer, uncovered, until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes more. Stir in cilantro. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and chives. Makes about 9 servings.

 

Takka’s Garula Stew

ignis-pot-simmer

“Everything looks damn tasty.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

If you can’t find garula, try substituting beef chuck.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pounds garula, excess fat removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces raw bacon (half a package), cut into ½” strips
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef in a single layer. Sprinkle with flour and season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add onions and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the wine is at a simmer, slowly pour in broth. Bring to a boil and add potatoes, carrots, and chipotles. Return to a boil, remove from heat, and cover. Bake for about 1½ hours, until meat and vegetables are tender.

Ladle into bowls and serve with blue cheese and chives. Makes about 7 servings.

Lucis Tavern Skewers

kingsglaive“Tastes like a chocobo turd.”

—Libertus Ostium, Kingsglaive

You’ll need wooden skewers for this recipe. Make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

  • 2 cups mirin
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup dry sake
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 16 large scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1½” cubes

Mix mirin, soy sauce, sake, sugar, pepper, garlic, ginger, green parts of the scallions, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 1½ hours.

Thread white parts of the scallions, cherry tomatoes, and chicken tightly onto skewers. Grill over medium-high direct heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side until well browned on all sides, brushing with sauce every 30 seconds until a glaze forms. Transfer skewers to platter, drizzle with remaining sauce, and serve immediately, preferably with a cold beer.