Champon (ちゃんぽん) is one of my favourite noodle dishes of all time and part of a long term search to reproduce at home. I first encounterd this dish at Narukyo (なるきよ) as a “finisher”; a final dish at the end of a great night of food and shochu (is there eanything else to drink at an isakaya?). The combination of ingredients and the stock made me stand up and take notice, much more than any ramen, laksa or miscellaneous soup noodle combination.
It appears that the dish is a Chinese / Japanese fusion concoction that first came to life in Japan in the city of Nagasaki. The combination of pork, seafood and vegetables when well picked is quite a balanced dish and adding seasonal produce makes almost every Champon a new experience. At Narukyo (なるきよ) I have experienced a deluxe version made for a friend of mine. Well, several deluxed versions, usually with Uni (Sea Urchin Roe) for him but I have had additions of soft roe of cod or even ikura (salmon roe) to build up the luxurious content.
After my first Champon experience I tried to have a crack at making it on my return home and ended up with a reasonable noodle soup, but not Champon. Some of the key (well regular) ingredients are hard to get in Australia (mostly the particular type of fish cake) and my first few attempts probably did not have the balance of noodle / vegatable / pork & seafood. Over time my recipe is getting closer based on constrant laboratory and field research.
OK, this is not going to be measured to the microgram kind of recipe, it is still a work in progress and it is more fun to play with the variations.
- Stock 500ml to make two servings
- Standard Meat /Seafood – sliced pork fillet, slices of fish cake, squid or calamari slices, soft roe of cod
- Vegetables – cabbage, carrots, beanshoots
- Additives (Deluxe) – sliced abalone, prawns
- Toppings (Super-Deluxe) – salmon roe (ikura) or sea urchin roe (uni)
- Champon (or ramen) noodles
The best ratio I have found is to have an equal volume of noodles / seafood & meat / vegetables with stock to fill the bowl.
- Fire up the wok, and I do mean fire. Should be smoking hot
- Add the lard and swish around to melt, making sure the smoking hot theory is still in place
- Add the seafood / meat pieces (pork and fish cake at a minimum) and toss in wok for around 2 minutes
- Add the vegetables and any of the deluxe additives that need less cooking than the meat, continue to toss wok like a madman
- Scoop in the stock from your secret sauce bucket, throw on the noodles tossing everything through
- Cover with a lid and let cook for around 2 mins
- Serve into bowls by placing noodles and items neatly with chopsticks. Scoop in broth with other contents
- For Super-Deluxe version add a “garnish” of salmon roe (ikura) or sea urchin roe (uni). Some ground sesami seeds may also be used.
- Consume. Go to the top and start again 😉
A Note on the Stock
So far my best efforts have been based on trail and error with a handful of suggestions obtained at the end of a long line of spent shochu. I start with a good chicken stock and for this I actually use a recipe from How to cook like Heston. This makes a fantastic chicken broth keeps well frozen (ideal for when you come home and decide you need champon). To this I would add some pork bones from the butcher, even some pork belly if nothing else comes to hand. You should end up with a milky appearance to the stock and a tonne of body added by the pork.
This recipe I am sure will be a work in progress and upgraded on every trip. Look for updates! Comments welcome!