Why It Works
- The paitain-style broth is cooked at a low rolling boil, which results in a rich, deep brown stock that is loaded with turkey flavor.
- Turkey drumsticks cooked in the broth are shredded and browned, serving as a crispy garnish in the finished bowl.
Turkey soup is all well and good for the day after Thanksgiving, and what's more, it's a snap to make. But sometimes I don't feel like making things snappy. Sometimes I feel like investing a bit more time into my scraps. Sometimes I feel like I want my home to smell like simmering turkey broth for an entire day before I get to dig into the fruits of my labor (or really, the fruits of my stove's labor, because it does the lion's share of work in this recipe). Enter turkey paitan ramen.
If you've kept abreast of our ramen style guide, you'd know that paitan refers to the thickness and opaqueness of the soup. Rich and creamy is what we're after here, and while paitan-style broths are traditionally made with pork (tonkotsu being the most famous example) or chicken, turkey works wonderfully well, with its fuller flavor and slightly sweet aroma.
In truth, this recipe is nothing more than a reworking of my tonkotsu ramen recipe, with a few tweaks.
Like that one, it starts with bones. In this case, I use fresh or roasted turkey bones (it's excellent made with a leftover roast turkey carcass!), along with a few extra fresh drumsticks, which are there not only for the soup itself, but to give us a bit of braised turkey meat to use as a crispy garnish in the finished bowl.
To make the broth, I start by blackening onions, garlic, and ginger in the bottom of a big pot. And when I say blacken, I mean that they should be well-charred on almost every side before adding my turkey bones and drumsticks (which have been briefly blanched and rinsed to rid them of excess minerals and blood that can darken the broth), and some carefully chosen aromatics: scallions and leeks (quadruple allium for quadruple allium flavor!), and mushrooms to bring out the meatiness of the turkey.
I fish the turkey drumsticks out of the pot as soon as they're tender enough to shred—a few hours.
The key with a paitan ramen is to forgo the classic French method of broth-making—the low and slow simmer—in lieu of a heavier boil. We're looking for a low rolling boil for the entirety of its six to eight-hour cooking time.
What you end up with is a rich, deep brown stock (brown from the roasted turkey bones!), that is absolutely loaded with turkey flavor.
A bit too much flavor if you want my honest opinion. To tame it, I find that this particular broth takes well to the addition of miso paste and sesame.
Tahini is hardly a traditional Japanese ingredient, but it's pretty much identical to the goma paste used in Japanese cuisine, and much easier to find in your average supermarket.
I whisk in a bit of each, adjusting the quantity to taste.
As with making miso soup, it's important that once you add the miso, you don't bring the broth back up to a boil, or the miso will separate, turning into grainy little lumps. If you let your soup sit and see it breaking like the photo above, you'll know you got it too hot.
Don't worry! It's an easily fixed problem: Just buzz it all up using an immersion blender or a regular blender and nobody will know the difference.
So what's up with that turkey drumstick meat we fished out? Well, after discarding the skin and bones, you're left with tender meat that can...
...easily be shredded into fine pieces before...
...browning in a skillet with some oil, cooking until crusty and browned all over.
And boom goes the dynamite. Even if you don't make the ramen broth, I heartily recommend simmering turkey drumsticks, shredding, and browning the meat. Turkey carnitas tacos anyone?
I finish off the bowl with a sous-vide soft boiled egg (a marinated soft boiled egg would do, as well), a ton of scallions, some crispy turkey meat, a drizzle of sesame oil, and—as a nod to the turkey's traditional American partner—some seared Brussels sprouts leaves.
Now isn't it better than boring old turkey soup?
3 pounds turkey backs and wings or leftover roasted turkey bones and carcass, roughly chopped with a cleaver or a heavy duty chef's knife
2 pounds turkey drumsticks and/or thighs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 large onion, skin on, roughly chopped
16 garlic cloves, divided
One 3-inch knob ginger, roughly chopped
2 whole leeks, washed and roughly chopped
2 dozen scallions, white parts only (reserve greens and light green parts for garnishing finished soup)
6 ounces whole mushrooms or mushroom scraps
1/2 cup red or white miso paste
1/4 cup sesame tahini
12 Brussels sprouts, divided into individual leaves
6 to 8 servings ramen-style noodles, store-bought or homemade
2 to 3 tablespoons mayu (black garlic oil) or toasted sesame oil, for serving
Place turkey bones and drumsticks or thighs in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Place on a burner over high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as boil is reached.
While pot is heating, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium cast iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add onions, 12 cloves garlic, and ginger. Cook, tossing occasionally until deeply charred on most sides, about 15 minutes total. Set aside.
Once pot has come to a boil, dump water down the drain. Carefully wash all bones and meat under cold running water, removing any bits of dark marrow or coagulated blood. Bones should be uniform grey/white after you've scrubbed them. Meat should be lightly rinsed.
Return turkey to pot along with charred vegetables, leeks, scallion whites, and mushrooms. Top up with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that appears (this should stop appearing within the first 20 minutes or so). Use a clean sponge or moist paper towels to wipe black or gray scum off from around the rim of the pot. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and place a heavy lid on top.
Once the lid is on, check the pot after 15 minutes. It should be at a slow rolling boil. If not, increase or decrease heat slightly to adjust boiling speed. Boil broth until turkey legs/drumsticks are completely tender, about 3 hours. Carefully remove turkey legs/drumsticks with a slotted spatula. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate until step 7. Return lid to pot and continue cooking until broth is opaque with the texture of light cream, about 3 to 5 hours longer, topping off as necessary to keep bones submerged at all times. If you must leave the pot unattended for an extended period of time, top up the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting while you are gone. Return to a boil when you come back and continue cooking, topping up with more water as necessary.
Once broth is ready, cook over high heat until reduced to around 3 quarts. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot. Discard solids. Skim liquid fat from top with a ladle and discard. Return to a medium pot on the stovetop and keep warm.
Whisk miso paste and tahini into broth. Grate garlic cloves and whisk into broth. Season to taste with salt and/or soy sauce.
Pick turkey meat from turkey legs and finely shred by hand. Place in a cast iron or nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook, flipping and breaking up the meat occasionally, until crusty and browned all over. Season to taste with salt and transfer to a bowl. Set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add Brussels sprouts leaves. Season to taste with salt and cook, tossing frequently, until bright green and charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Cook ramen noodles according to package directions. Drain and transfer to individual serving bowls. Top with broth, Brussels sprouts leaves, sliced scallion greens, shredded turkey, and an egg. Drizzle with mayu or toasted sesame oil. Serve immediately.
For an even cleaner soup, strain through a fine-mesh strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 33g||42%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||36%|
|Total Carbohydrate 92g||33%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||28%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 31mg||153%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|