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Asian sesame paste key for Tan Tan Ramen dish

By Betty Shimabukuro

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:00 a.m. HST, Mar 30, 2011



Tan Tan Ramen is a Chinese-Japanese hybrid, a noodle soup with a deep broth flavored with sesame and a bit of chili-pepper heat.

Robyn Goong is a fan of the version at Goma Tei Tan Tan Ramen and is looking for a recipe.

The trick with Tan Tan is in rounding up the key ingredient, Asian sesame paste. There are Japanese and Chinese versions, both made from ground roasted sesame seeds. I found a Chinese jar at Hong Kong Supermarket in Chinatown (corner of Maunakea and Hotel streets) and a Japanese jar at Marukai (the label was in Japanese with a sticker that said “pasted sesame”).

Tahini — used in Middle Eastern-style dishes such as hummus — is also a sesame paste, but made with hulled seeds rather than the whole seeds used in Asian pastes. A purist would not want you to interchange them.

For heat you have a choice of chili oil (easy to find in the Asian foods aisle) or Chinese black bean-chili sauce (the venerable Lee Kum Kee brand is available in Chinatown).

If you’re really on a quest for a specific Tan Tan flavor, I’d go after all four of these ingredients and mix and match to get the flavor you like.

The sesame paste and chili are combined with sugar and soy sauce, then stirred into the broth. You can get a passable Tan Tan using chicken broth from a can, but for real depth of flavor you should make your own. Goma Tei’s soup is a mixture of chicken and pork, which is hard to find in a can anyway. If you’re up for it, instructions for making a good stock are at the end of this recipe.

Oh, and not to forget the noodles. I’d suggest the made-in-Hawaii Sun brand of fresh ramen noodles, sold in the refrigerated section of many supermarkets, and for sure at Marukai and Don Quijote. At Marukai you can choose among thin, medium and fat versions.

This is a basic recipe for Tan Tan. Top with your choice of sliced meats and vegetables, just as you would with saimin.

Tan Tan Ramen

11 ounces fresh ramen noodles
4 cups chicken stock (or combination of chicken and pork stock; see note)

>> Sesame Paste:

2 tablespoons Asian sesame paste
1 tablespoon chili oil or black bean-chili sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce

>> Garnish:

Chopped green onion
Toasted sesame seeds
Sesame oil, optional

Bring a pot of water to boil; add noodles. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to keep noodles from sticking. Drain well; divide among 4 bowls.

Bring stock to simmer.

Combine ingredients for sesame paste and mix until smooth. Stir a spoonful into a cup of broth and taste. Add a bit more of any paste ingredient as needed. Remove pot of stock from heat and stir in all the paste. Let steep a few minutes, then stir and ladle over noodles.

Top with green onions and sesame seeds. Drizzle with sesame oil, if desired. Serves 4 (or makes 2 large servings).

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 340 calories, 10 g fat,1 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, greater than 2,000 mg sodium, 50 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 13 g protein

To make your own stock: Combine a cut-up chicken carcass and 1 to 2 pounds pork bones (from pork chops or ribs) in a roasting pan. Add 2 onions, halved; a head of garlic with the top 1/2 inch cut off; and 4 carrots, cut in chunks. Toss with vegetable oil and roast at 350 degrees for an hour, until nicely brown. Place everything in stock pot and cover with water. Bring to simmer, then cover and cook on low heat for at least 2 hours, until stock is deeply flavored. Strain well. You can also use a Crock-Pot — just let everything simmer overnight.

———

Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.

Write “By Request,” Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813. Email bshimabukuro@staradvertiser.com.






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