Chicken Meatball Tantanmen

It’s ramen season! Shio ramen, shoyu ramen, Hokkaido-style ramen, I don’t care. Gimme all the ramen.

I made this spicy chicken meatball tantanmen ramen in my donabe, adapted from my Donabe cookbook. It’s a bit of effort but the results are well worth it. Make sure to seek out fresh ramen noodles for this recipe, as they’ll stay springy in the hot broth.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 egg
1 tablespoon katakuriko (potato starch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 plus 1 tablespoon sake
4 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely grated
4-5 green onions, minced (white part only) plus 1 green onion minced, for serving
1 teaspoon tobanjan (fermented chili bean paste)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons miso (I used red miso)
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
5 leaves green or napa cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
7 ounces medium or firm tofu, cut into large cubes
1/4 cup tahini
3 ounces enoki mushrooms, trimmed and pulled apart
5 ounces mung bean sprouts
1 or 2 packages fresh ramen noodles, cooked, drained, and set aside
Ground toasted white sesame seeds, for serving
Chili crisp or la-yu (chili oil), for serving
Kurozu (Japanese black vinegar), or rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar, for serving

1. Make the meatballs: combine chicken, egg, potato starch, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon sake, and 2 teaspoons ginger in a bowl and knead until combined and smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a donabe and saute the garlic, 2 teaspoons ginger, and half of the green onions over medium heat until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Push them to one side and add the tobanjan on the open side. Stir the tobanjan until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup sake and chicken stock. Whisk in the miso and add the soy sauce. Cover and bring to a simmer.

3. Add the cabbage and tofu to the broth. Form the chicken mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and drop them into the broth. Cover and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 5 minutes, then stir in the sesame paste. Add the mushrooms and bean sprouts and cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining green onions and some ground sesame seeds and turn off the heat.

4. Assemble the cooked ramen noodles in individual bowls and carefully ladle the meatballs and broth mixture into the bowls. Add some chili crisp and vinegar to taste.

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