This famous noodle soup hails from the capital of Hokkaido, Japan’s most northern island. Their food is typically fatty and warming, which is needed during the harsh winters. It is a gutsy, pulls-no-punches kind of noodle soup, so make sure you are hungry. The sweetcorn and butter topping are its hallmarks, as the island is known for producing the sweetest corn and for its use of dairy products.
4 skin-on boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small leek, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
2 heads of pak choi, leaves halved lengthways
200 g/7 oz/2 cups beansprouts
200 g/7 oz/¾ cup dried ramen noodles
1 litre/1¾ pints/4 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp white miso
2 tbsp red miso
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
100 g/3½ oz/½ cup canned sweetcorn
60 g/2 oz/½ stick unsalted butter, split into 4 even pieces
4 boiled eggs
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
a few drops of chilli oil
First, rub the chicken pieces with the sesame oil and light soy sauce. Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken, skin side down, and fry until crisp on the skin, about 3 minutes, then flip over and cook for a further 4 minutes until tender and cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to cool. In the same pan, add the vegetables (except the spring onions and sweetcorn) and stir-fry for 5 minutes with some salt and white pepper.
Separately, in a large pot of hot water, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain them under very cold water to stop the cooking process, then divide the noodles between 4 warm bowls.
Next add the chicken stock to a pan and bring to the boil for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Place both types of miso in a ladle or strainer. Dip the ladle/strainer into the pot so the dashi seeps in, but the miso does not escape into the pot. Slowly loosen up the miso with a spoon inside the ladle/strainer as the dashi mixes with it; the paste will slowly melt into the dashi.
Slice the chicken thighs, then lay them with the vegetables in the bowls on top of the noodles before ladling the hot miso stock on top.
Divide the spring onions, sweetcorn and butter between each bowl, adding a boiled egg, sliced in half, and sprinkling with sesame and chilli oils.
The toppings can vary, often roast char siu pork is added instead of chicken, while a poached egg is also popular.
Recipe from Miso Tasty Cookbook, Pavilion Books
Photograph Yuki Sugiura