The soup in most bowls of ramen consists of three components: broth, an aromatic oil, and the tare, or seasoning. The tare is what gives the soup its character, and it's mostly used as a way to introduce both salinity and a punch of flavor, usually from ingredients that are extremely rich in glutamates. That includes kombu (dried kelp) and other flavorful compounds, like dried-fish products and mushrooms.
This tare, made from just leftover lemon rinds, salt, and kombu, keeps it pretty simple. While it does take a couple of days to make, the vast majority of that time is spent passively (and patiently!) waiting.
The tare can, of course, be used to season ramen, but it's incredibly versatile: Use it to season other soups, stews, stir-fries, and even salad dressings. It works particularly well in dishes that have a meaty or fishy component, such as a chicken stock–based pan sauce or an anchovy-heavy salad dressing.
Why It Works
- Tossing spent lemon rinds with salt draws out any latent liquid, creating a lightly lemon-flavored salt solution.
- Squeezing the lemon rinds in a ricer increases yield and expresses essential oils present in the fruit's skin, heightening the lemon aroma in the tare.
- Soaking kombu in the lemon-salt solution adds glutamates to the mixture.
- Making a kombu dashi with the fully hydrated kombu extracts as much flavor as possible from the kelp.
- Mixing the dashi with the lemon-salt solution dissolves any solid salt, dilutes the salt levels, and increases the potency of flavor of the shio tare.
- Yield:Makes about 1 cup (240ml) shio tare
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:24 to 48 hours
- 24 ounces (680g) "used" lemon rinds, cut into eighths (see note)
- 5 ounces (140g) kosher salt (see note)
- 1/4 ounce kombu, or dried kelp (7g; about one 7- by 2-inch piece)
Cut each lemon rind into a few chunks and toss with salt in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.
Using a cheesecloth-lined or fine-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a nonreactive bowl, strain the liquid that has collected at the bottom of the bowl. Working in batches, transfer rinds to a stainless steel or plastic potato ricer and squeeze to release any extra liquid, allowing it to pass through strainer into bowl. (You can also twist the rinds in a doubled-over sheet of cheesecloth, wrapping the ends of the cheesecloth around a spoon for torque to help express the liquid; see our article on making latkes for photos and a fuller description of the technique.) Discard rinds and any salt left in the strainer.
Scrape liquid and any solid salt in bottom of bowl into a small plastic or glass container; there should be about 1/2 cup (120ml) liquid. Submerge kombu in liquid, cover, and place in refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.
Remove kombu from liquid and place in a small saucepan along with 1/2 cup (120ml) water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; do not allow to come to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, shut off the heat.
When kombu dashi is cool, strain it into salt-lemon solution, stirring to dissolve any solid salt at the bottom of the container; discard kombu. Refrigerate tare for up to 2 months.