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When he launched his ramen bar Noodlecat in Cleveland in 2011, chef Jonathon Sawyer knew that the broth was of the utmost importance, and the stock he created lives on today. Here, he describes a week in its life.
When he launched his ramen bar Noodlecat in Cleveland in 2011, chef Jonathon Sawyer knew that the broth was of the utmost importance. “As modern as we are in technique,” he says, “we love and appreciate tradition. My grandmother, my mother, Michael Ruhlman and I all subscribe to the romance of ancient and married broths.” Sawyer creates a stock made with both fresh and roasted pork bones, smoked ham jelly, beef tendon, pork skin and chopped chicken wing tips, and takes out a certain percentage each day for the daily ramen broth, simmering the rest to deepen its flavor to create the next day’s stock. Four years later, he carries on the legacy of that original pot. Here, Sawyer describes a week in the life of his broth, which just keeps getting better with time.
Monday: We start fresh stock: We remove 90 percent of the liquid from the pot and 80 percent of the bones and strain them to become the day’s ramen broth. We add bone bill (pork bones and water) back into the remaining liquid and let it continue to simmer for the next day. Meanwhile, we finish the ramen broth on the line, adding in the kelp and bonito flake-based broth dashi—a mixture called super dashi—which is concentrated kelp, bonito flakes, dried mushrooms, ginger, garlic and soy and various aromatics, depending on what the guest orders: pork miso ramen or crispy beef short rib ramen or buttermilk fried chicken and ramen.
Tuesday: We go back to the original stock base and take out 60 percent of the liquid to use to make the day’s ramen broth. Again, we replenish the liquid that we’ve taken out with bones and water. If we’ve got some roasted pork skin around, we top the broth with it, to be removed and chopped later.
Wednesday: The stock gets a day off. It simmers all day long.
Thursday: We pull 60 percent of the broth from the big stock base to make ramen broth with for the day and replenish the rest with bone bill.
Friday: We pull 40 percent of the original stock base to make ramen broth, replenishing the rest with bone bill.
Saturday: We pull a final 40 percent of the liquid from the original stock base and replenish with bone bill.
Sunday: A day of rest. The stock simmers until it gets back to work on Monday.
“Even the holiday gravy at our house is a married mix of many, many, many past Christmas gravies,” Sawyer explains: “We save and freeze a little each year, and then blend that into the next year’s gravy. Some famous pho shops have the same stock base for 20 years.”