Ramen is composed of a number of elements: 1) stock or broth, 2) noodles, 3) one or a combination of four primary flavorings, 4) meat ingredients, and 5) toppings and condiments. Most of Japan’s twenty established regional styles of ramen include eggs in different forms, and ajitsuke tamago is one of the most popular.
Every time I invite people to experience ramen for the first time and to pick the toppings, I suggest including the eggs. In the menu, they read “pickled” or “marinated” next to the eggs and say “No.” I smile and order extra eggs for my bowl of ramen because I know what’s going to happen next — they will see them, ask for a bite, and I’ll have to share. Why didn’t you order them? — I ask. The explanation is the same — marinated eggs are expected to be similar to American vinegary eggs, which do not have a lot of fans these days. Ajitsuke tamago are completely different. They are soft with runny yolk and seasoned in a savory broth based on soy sauce. They are delicious!
Soy sauce. There are different kinds of Japanese and Chinse soy sauces available in Asian and Western supermarkets, and their flavor contribution is different. Tamari is type of soy sauce to use in this recipe. Those who follow a gluten-free diet, need to read labels to make sure they are getting the one that is made without wheat. Not all of them are. To learn more, please follow the link to and article about Japanese soy sauce basics by Makiko Itoh.
Mirin.Mirin is one of flavoring ingredients often used in Japanese cooking. It’s a rice wine with high sugar content that forms naturally during the fermentation process. Just like soy sauce, different types of mirin will bring different characteristics to the final taste of ajitsuke tamago. Look for hon mirin (true mirin), which is, unfortunately, more expensive and not easy to find. Widely available kotteri or aji mirin are basically mirin-flavored corn syrup. In Austin, I could only find true mirin in Whole Foods and Central Market.
In a bowl large enough for the eggs you are making, prepare an ice bath (ice and water 1:1).
Start with eggs from the refrigerator. Place them in a saute pan, add cold water 1" deep and bring to boiling on high heat, while rolling eggs gently. The goal of this step is to center the yolks and temper eggs before water starts boiling.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan with a lid. Steam eggs for 6 minutes.
Place the eggs into the ice bath and keep for 15 minutes. The goal of this step is to quickly stop the process of cooking and solidify egg whites, which makes egg shells easy to peel.
Meanwhile, make the broth. Dissolve sugar in warm water. Add sake, soy sauce, and mirin and stir. For 5-6 eggs, use a 1-pint zip lock bag. Place it in a small bowl and fill it with the broth. Peel the eggs and submerge them into the broth.
Secure the bag, so all eggs are completely covered with the liquid. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. Eggs are ready to eat after the first 6-8 hours of seasoning. Bring them to room temperature before serving. For serving with ramen, they are reheated in the hot stock, then sliced with a sharp knife or thread.
Types of Ramen by Kobi's Kitchen
"Special Ramen Styles
[...]The other type of nouveau ramen I really like is Torikotsu Ramen. The stock of this type of ramen is made in a way similar to Tonkotsu but using chicken instead. After a long boiling time the resulting soup is similarly milky, heavy with gelatine and strong in meat flavour. This distinguishes it from the Hakodate style soup which is also made from chicken, but is clear. Torikotsu is typically topped with things like fried shallots, cabbage, scallion and perhaps a wedge of lemon. In some cases even the accompanying Chashu can be made from chicken as well. To try this type of less-common ramen, may I suggest a small Ramen chain in the Yokohama area called Matsuichiya."