I’ve had some bad nights. Some awkward social interactions, some drunken regrets, some double-shower post outings because the club was too sleazy or that drunk girl friend, that I love, I care for, I adore, got a little naked in the cab. Even though I was just a victim of her crimes I felt dirty for witnessing them. You know those nights.
I’ve never understood the bar scene. Sure, let’s wear tight, uncomfortable clothing, drink over-priced throat burners and talk to someone we aren’t remotely interested in for 20 minutes. Sounds great! And you’re in deep if they ask for your number. I always wonder, is it worse to give them a fake or just ignore their texts for weeks until they give up?
And why is everyone in such a rush to meet someone? Is there a clock ticking that I can’t hear? Is it ovaries? I don’t know.
Needless to say, awhile back I found myself in this exact situation. A bar, a singles’ soiree, DC, my worst nightmare.
After being there for 10 minutes, I was approached by a leather jacket wearing greaser who missed my Danny Zuko reference. He asked me if I was free later and I said I had too many Dateline Real Life Mystery episodes to catch up on and really couldn’t commit to anything. He didn’t seem put off by my obvious disinterest and continued to chat me up while I desperately searched the crowd for my mutinous friends.
The bar was hot and crowded. There were people everywhere, all too drunk to move out of my way as I politely wiggled through. My shoes stuck to the floor, each step forward felt like a miracle. The place wreaked of desperation and stress sweat. Or maybe that was just me, a result of my Revenant-esque struggle. On the stage (oh yes there was a stage) some poor blitzed girl giggled her way through a matchmaker game and lost. I had to get out.
Leaving the bar, I was overwhelmed with an unfortunate feeling. My head pounded with chants of, “What am I doing? How did I get here? Why’d I give that T-bird my number? He’s not going to call me, is he? God, I hope someone doesn’t vomit on me. Help!”
My friend CB must have telepathically sensed my distress signal. Just as my mood teetered on the edge of deeply dark, she texted, “We’re watching Harry Potter and eating homemade ramen, care to join?”
After the blaring music, sex pit, meat market of a bar I was in, CB’s house was like heaven on earth. Warm, clean, smelling of soup. And CB is the best hostess. As I scrubbed the evening’s slime from my forearms, she made me a teacup of ramen with some toasted bread.
I was safe. Saved from the self-inflicted pressure to be charming and giggly, to flirt, to pretend (poorly) to enjoy things I don’t really enjoy. Safe from exchanging numbers with guys I assume are either going to murder or molest me (I watch WAY too much Dateline). I could sloth on her couch, dribble soup down my chin, fall asleep to a movie without a worry or care. I was in recovery.
And the soup, my God, the soup! Warm. Comforting. Wholesome. Homemade!
So here is my version of Recovery Ramen recipe to cure what ails you. Whether it’s a single girl’s strife, a broken heart or a runny nose – this’ll do the trick!
Let me say this – I was intimidated by ramen. My desire to make something authentic, coupled with my inability to find the perfect noodles led to fear induced procrastination. A story I loved sat unread in my drafts folder for over a year uncooked, unphotographed, hidden.
However, on one of those spectacular DC days where the sky is perfectly blue and the breeze is just right, I came across a little Japenese market on U Street with walls and walls of every ramen noodle variety you could imagine. It felt like a sign. I talked with the sweet little lady who owned the shop, confessing my ramen reluctancy. I asked, what to add, how to cook, what to do. She answered each of my inquiries with a smile and a simple response, “what do you like?”
So here’s how I like it. Simple. The above are the base for my broth. Ginger, garlic, chicken, kombu.
Sauté the garlic and ginger in oil until fragrant.
Add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. When the broth is boiling add the chicken and kombu. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the chicken has reached 160°F remove it from the broth. Set aside.
Strain the broth discarding the kombu, ginger, and garlic. Return broth to the pot and keep warm over low flame while you prepare the toppings.
Cook the ramen according to package instructions, drain and set aside.
These are the toppings I like but you do whatever you want.
To assemble, ladle broth into bowls, add noodles, top with your toppings or my toppings, really whatever toppings. TOPPINGS.
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 ounce of kombu
3 chicken breasts
48 ounces of chicken broth
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
hard boiled eggs
pickled bamboo shoots
toasted sesame seeds
whatever you want!
To make the broth, heat the canola oil in a large sauce pot. Add the ginger and garlic. Sauté for 3 – 4 minutes until fragrant.
Add the chicken broth, chicken breasts, and kombu.
Cook for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and reaches a temperature of 160°F.
Remove the chicken and set aside.
Strain the broth, discard the kombu, ginger, and garlic. Return the broth to the pot and keep warm over low heat while you prepare the toppings.
Cook the ramen in a separate pot according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
To cook the eggs, place in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 6 minutes for soft boiled eggs, 10 minutes for hard boiled. Plunge cooked eggs into ice cold water. Let cool and then peel them.
To assemble, slice cooked chicken, ladle broth into bowls, add noodles. Top with toppings and chicken.