When I first started reading Ivan Orkin’s memoir-cookbook Ivan Ramen I was immediately engaged with his story. He shares the arc of his life thus far, how Japan works its magic on him, he falls in love (twice) has children and forges a life in Tokyo. It’s dramatic, sad, life affirming and unusual. His voice leaps from the page.
Then I arrived at the cookbook. I was mesmerized. His Shio Ramen recipe is 41 pages long. That includes a lot of gorgeous full page photographs, but still. There are eight separate component recipes that make up The Bowl. At first I was daunted, thinking is he nuts? Then I became kind of fascinated, after all, a bowl of ramen is made up of many elements. There’s the broth, the noodles, and several necessary flavor components and garnishes including a strictly timed soft cooked egg perfection and pork belly chashu. I thought to myself “I’ll never make this recipe.”
But wouldn’t it be fantastic to do The Bowl as a group project with friends who love to cook? You can match assigned tasks to particular abilities and personality traits. For example, that friend you have who is a total perfectionist and slavish recipe follower? He or she can make the broth. I would (of course) make the noodles. Then the simpler components can be farmed out to friends with less time or ability. You set a date for bringing it all together and have an Ivan Ramen bowl extravaganza. Or you can just make one or two of the delicious non-ramen recipes at the back of the book or teach yourself one or two of the components of The Bowl to enhance your cooking in general. Let me know if you do it. Come on. Let’s party Bowl style!
Listen to my interview with Ivan below, and click here for his Dashi Maki Tamago recipe from Ivan Ramen.