Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Perfect Bowl of Ramen - Chef Jason Lim of Eureka Cooking Lab

It is easy for us to take a bowl of ramen for granted. On the surface, it is just another bowl of noodles, not unlike something you will find in hawker stalls.

A bowl of broth, with noodles, pork slices, egg and some vegetable garnish may not sound complex, but to the Japanese, there is an absolute science to making the perfect bowl of ramen.

And this is where Chef Jason Lim comes in. His passion for ramen led him to study the art of ramen making in Japan, and after spending some time picking up the necessary skills, he is back in Singapore today, helping others who are keen to learn this most exacting way of making Japanese noodles.

Chef Jason Lim

Chef Jason also runs Eureka Cooking Lab up at Jalan Kuras, a magnificent cooking studio that can accommodate up to a dozen individual cooking workstations for interested parties. Jason also provides a professional ramen business course, targeted to individuals who not only wants to learn how to make ramen, but also to set up a proper business as well.

At his lab, there is also an amazing ramen noodle making machine on display (which he also sells to F&B owners), and is meant for churning out all sorts of ramen and noodles for industrial purposes. And besides the cooking lab, the location also has a dine in area meant for students to enjoy their fruits of cooking labor as well as hosting all sorts of cooking private events.

Pinky Stirring the Pot

At a cooking demonstration one weekend morning, Jason showed a few of us the essentials of making a good bowl of authentic ramen. Basically, it is all about the noodle making, the broth, the char siu, the tamago egg and finally the oils to flavor the entire concoction.

Using only distilled water to make the noodle dough, and adding a mixture of gluten powder, egg powder and kansui, Jason demonstrated how he made use of the ramen machine to easily churn out a substantial amount of noodles. They were not only freshly made, but the consistency and texture of the noodles could also be easily manipulated depending on how you like the noodles to taste and feel.

For the tonkatsu broth, a combination of  chicken bones, pig thigh and trotters was utilized in brewing the incredibly flavorsome stock. In order to achieve the intensity of a good ramen broth, the stock is further enhanced with a permutation of soy and salt seasoning, coupled with some miso enhancing.

The final phase of the broth is to add in the flavored oils, which can be composed either from one or mixture blend of dried shrimp, shallots or garlic oil. Yes, making one bowl of ramen soup does take that much effort and work.

Tamago Egg

One cannot ignore the cooking of the soft boiled eggs as well. That inclusion of the egg in a bowl of ramen is one of the highlights of eating this Japanese classic. The creamy yolk juices flowing out of the egg into the soup is an immense joy when savoring this dish.

Char Siu

Char Siu, which are slices of pork belly cooked at precisely 80 degrees Celsius is perfectly tender and toothpick tender. When done correctly, as Jason demonstrated, it is amazingly melting in the mouth. No chewing required.

After all the elements have been meticulously prepared and cooked, the final step is to simply plate it up. I say simple, but it takes a skilled hand to decorate the bowl into a mini work of art. The final dressing, as you can see from my first photo, is beautiful and inviting.

This is how an authentic bowl of ramen should look and taste. No added MSG, and all the flavors are natural and organic. Every element in the bowl is perfectly cooked and presented. In other words, a perfect bowl of ramen.

Besides the ramen classes, Jason also provides courses for Japanese pizza and spaghetti making, and he also conducts team-building and children activities as well.

The Eureka Cooking Lab also houses a number of reputable chefs and experts that conduct classes in various aspects of cooking. They are:

- Chef Valerie Kong for baking and pastry making
- Chef Peter Neo for pasta and all things Italian
- Chef K.T. for modern cuisine
- Chef Simon Yeo for Japanese cuisine
- Chef Jimmy Cheang for BBQ and smoked meats
- Chef Andi for baking and pastry 
- Allen Lim for team-building and corporate training

So, if you have an interest in any of the abovementioned areas, feel free to contact Jason and his team at his website or you can email him with the details below.

The Eureka Cooking Lab
8 Jalan Kuras
Phone: +65 6456 4322

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