If You Like Peanut Butter, You’ll Dig This Broth-Free Ramen Recipe
Tonchin Brooklyn creative director Kiyotaka Shinoki shares his personal recipe for mazemen
As New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells once referred to it, mazemen is “ramen without the slurp” and has traditionally never been “more than a sideshow act, the one-armed ax-catcher of the ramen circus.”
Served without broth and dependent on other sources for its flavor, mazemen-style ramen does sometimes turn up on menus alongside its soupier siblings, but is rarely the star of the show or the focus of feasters who are looking for a comfort-food fix. Sometimes, as is the case at Tonchin Brooklyn, a tonkotsu-centric ramen shop with a sister location in Manhattan that traces its roots back to a 10-seat counter service restaurant that opened in Tokyo in 1992, mazemen is left off the menu entirely.
However, that doesn’t mean mazemen has been forgotten by the team at Tonchin Brooklyn, which favors a thinner ramen broth built on both soy sauce and pork as bases that are designed to shift in flavor throughout the course of a meal, said creative director Kiyotaka Shinoki.
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Shinoki, who grew up eating mazemen in Japan in the summertime, spent part of his fall tinkering with a recipe for mazemen that could be enjoyed year-round. In addition to wanting a mazemen recipe suited for the heat of summer as well as the cold of winter, Shinoki wanted to develop a dish that wouldn’t require the time needed for a proper ramen broth.
“It’s too much work for most people to create a broth from scratch. It takes so much time and there are so many layers,” Shinoki tells InsideHook via a translator. “Even in Japan, we never make ramen broth at home. It’s something you always go out to eat. At any ramen shop in Japan, they spend at least six months finalizing their own broth. That’s why instant ramen is very popular. It has prepped powder and you just add water and meat or vegetables.”
Popular in Japan, instant ramen is also a staple in pantries across the United States and is found as frequently in college dorm rooms as Bob Marley blacklight posters water filtration devices named LeBong James. That being the case, Shinoki opted to use that as the noodle component of his mazemen and also incorporated another ingredient that’s been popular with Americans of all ages for more than 260 years: peanut butter.
“I wanted to come up with something new it would be easy for most people to make without any issue using ingredients from the supermarket,” Shinoki says. “The recipe combines the essence of Japanese cuisine with tahini, which is very similar to the sesame bit in Chinese noodles, as well as some American ingredients. The peanut butter gives it a richer taste. It’s not to make the dish sweeter, but instead to make all of the tastes deeper.”
All out of jelly? No problem. Just snag your Smucker’s and crack open Shinoki’s peanut-friendly mazemen ramen recipe.
Tonchin Brooklyn’s Tori Mazemen
Prep Time: Minimal
Cook Time: Less than 30 minutes
Servings: Serves 2
- 3 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. chili pepper
- 3 oz. soy sauce
- 1.5 oz. sake
- 2 oz. brown sugar
- 2 oz. peanut butter (or nut-free alternative)
- 1 oz. tahini
- 0.5 lb ground chicken
- 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 9 oz. ramen noodles
- Sliced red onion (for garnish)
- Chopped chives (for garnish)
In a saucepan, combine sesame oil and crushed garlic. Saute until garlic is slightly translucent.
In the same saucepan, add ground chicken and chili pepper. Saute until chicken is browned.
In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, sake and brown sugar. Mix until combined.
Add soy sauce mixture to ground chicken, cook for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
While the chicken cooks, combine tahini and peanut butter (or nut-free alternative) in a separate bowl.
Boil ramen noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with ice water until the noodles are well chilled.
Stir the noodles continuously while adding the tahini mixture slowly. Be careful not to add too much right away, as it can separate.
Combine sliced onion and ice water for 1 minute until well chilled, then drain water.
Plate! We suggest placing noodles first, then ground chicken on top before garnishing with red pepper, onion and chives.
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