For decades the word ‘ramen’ was synonymous with ‘instant’ in North America. A tired cliché associated with tired college students. At the same time, risotto has been revered as one of the most difficult dishes to master.
What do the two have in common? One executive chef Jeff Van Geest, of Tinhorn Creek’s award-winning Miradoro restaurant near Oliver. On his winter 2019 menu, Van Geest is offering a “ramen risotto” as part of an elaborate sablefish dish.
Granted, Van Geest is basing his dish on the beautiful broths prepared over hours and hours at proper noodle houses, rather than instant ramen’s seasoning packet + water recipe.
His take on ramen is made in the traditional risotto manner, with a stock based on ingredients commonly used in Japanese cooking.
The stock is a miso dashi made with miso, mirin (a type of rice wine similar to sake), bonito (dried and cured smoked fish, shaved super thin), kelp and mushrooms.
After the kelp and mushrooms soak in the broth for at least an hour, they get taken out, chopped up and folded into the risotto.
The dish accompanies a sablefish lightly cured and smoked in house with a mixture of rice and black tea. The fish is then glazed with local honey before it is finished al forno.
The entire dish is garnished with rendered diced pancetta, sesame seeds, curly green onions and some thin-sliced radish. It costs $36.
“It’s kind of a play on a bowl of ramen without trying to just replicate a bowl of ramen and making it more like an Italian dish,” Van Geest told the Western News.
However, Van Geest said he doesn’t appreciate fusion for the sake of fusion itself.
“I think if you combine these things they should be really thoughtful. I really see a big similarity between Italian and Japanese cuisine, a simplicity where it’s all about the use of good quality ingredients with respect,” he said. “Kind of a ‘less is more’ attitude and approach to cooking.”
Van Geest said it’s the first time ramen risotto has been on his menu since the restaurant opened in 2011.
Miradoro is currently closed for the winter, but will reopen on March 1 with the winter menu and ramen risotto dish still in effect.
Get it while it’s hot. Errr… cold? On April 1 the menu will be updated for the spring season.
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