POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 18, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 1:39 p.m. HST, Dec 19, 2013
The ramen burger is not even 7 weeks old, and already it’s a phenomenon. They’re calling it “the food craze of the summer,” and by “they” I mean those who would stand in line for four hours for the chance at the latest, greatest edible thing.
Birthed by ramen-aholic Keizo Shimamoto in Brooklyn, N.Y., the sandwich is a beef patty between two ramen patties — noodles compressed into a bun shape, fried crisp on the outside and lightly grilled. Imagine cake noodles in the round.
Shimamoto introduced his product at Smorgasburg, an outdoor Brooklyn food fair, on Aug. 3, but the debut generated so much social media buzz and other advance publicity that hundreds lined up and quickly wiped out his stock of 150 burgers.
Repeat appearances at Smorgasburg were followed by his debut on the opposite coast, at a Japanese grocery in Torrance, Calif., on Sept. 7. Local media reported that thousands showed up and the wait was up to four hours long (there’s a reason something like this is called a “craze”). Los Angeles magazine commented that it is “giving foodies with too much time on their hands something savory to Instagram about.”
June Williams read about the ramen burger online and asked for a recipe. “The photo makes me hungry,” she wrote. “It's like the ultimate fusion comfort food, burger and ramen together.”
The burger is already being widely copied, and a few recipes for the “buns” have cropped up on cooking websites and blogs. I made a few, and the results are worth it for the novelty. They look like the real thing, they’re crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, but I doubt that they’re a match in taste. For one thing, I used packaged dry ramen, which I’m sure is no comparison to the noodles Shimamoto has made for him by Sun Noodle (based in Honolulu, but with a factory in New Jersey).
To make them, you’ll need several bun-sized circular molds. If you are well stocked in ramekins, those would work, but I used plastic tubs — the type that margarine comes in, or takeout poke.
The recipe that follows is only for the buns, which is really the point of the sandwich. You’re on your own with the burger. Shimamoto’s official Shoyu Ramen Burgers have a “secret sauce” and are served with arugula and chopped green onions.
I could see these buns used to make sandwiches with anything you’d normally eat with ramen — thin slices of teriyaki beef, kalua pork with grilled onions, a fat slice of Spam with tomato and lettuce, sliced kalbi topped with chopped kim chee …
By the way, if it’s too much trouble to make your own, Tanaka Saimin (888 N. Nimitz Highway, 524-2020) is selling a saimin burger with a small bowl of saimin broth on the side for $8.95.
And if you are a true ramen fan, follow Shimamoto’s ramen adventures at goramen.com. He studied ramen making in Japan and is serious about the art.
1 (3-ounce) package dry ramen noodles, any flavor, with seasoning packet
3 round plastic containers, 4 inches in diameter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Bring pot of water to boil. Add noodles and seasoning packet. Cook until noodles are tender but not too soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain; let cool to room temperature.
Place noodles in bowl. Beat egg and pour over noodles, tossing to coat well. Divide noodles between 2 plastic containers. Top each with piece of plastic wrap or baking parchment. Place 1 container on top of the other. Place third container on top of stack. Place a weight such as a can of beans into the top container. Place entire stack in refrigerator and chill about 1 hour.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high. Carefully remove ramen buns from containers and place in oil. Fry until light brown and crisp. Turn buns (add more oil if needed). Fry until done on other side. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Serves 1.
Nutritional information unavailable.