Home-Style Mat­zoh Ball Ramen

Serves 4 to 6 • Active Time: 1 Hour • Total Time: 5 Hours

Chick­en Soup

1 whole chick­en (4 pounds)

3 table­spoons plus 1 tea­spoon kosher salt

4 quarts water

1 (6‑inch) square of kombu

1 bay leaf

1‑inch piece of fresh ginger

Mat­zoh Balls

12 cup mat­zoh meal

1 12 tea­spoons bak­ing powder

14 tea­spoon kosher salt

2 table­spoons canola oil, melt­ed duck fat, or melt­ed chick­en fat

2 eggs

1 tea­spoon water

For Fin­ish­ing

1 bunch fresh dill, rinsed

1 bunch curly pars­ley, rinsed

1 car­rot, peeled and cut into 1‑inch pieces

1 small parsnip, peeled and cut into 1‑inch pieces

2 cel­ery stalks, cut into

1‑inch pieces

1 yel­low onion, quartered

Kosher salt

1 pound fresh ramen noodles

2 scal­lions, thin­ly sliced

Chili oil (option­al), such as S&B brand

4 to 6 (4 × 2‑inch) pieces of nori, for garnish

To make the soup: Remove the breast meat from the chick­en with the skin intact (see Note) and place on a plate. Sea­son both sides with 1 tea­spoon of the salt and refrig­er­ate. Remove the chick­en legs by dis­lo­cat­ing the thigh bones at the joint where they meet the back. Slice along the joint to detach.

In a large stock­pot with a lid, com­bine the chick­en car­cass and legs (but not the breasts) and the water. Bring to a boil over high heat, tak­ing care to skim any foam or oth­er impu­ri­ties that rise to the sur­face. Reduce the heat to a low sim­mer. Add the kom­bu, bay leaf, gin­ger, and the remain­ing 3 table­spoons salt. Cov­er and cook until the meat is ten­der and comes off the bone eas­i­ly, 1 12 hours. Check peri­od­i­cal­ly to be sure it’s only gen­tly sim­mer­ing, adjust­ing the heat if necessary.

Mean­while, to start the mat­zoh balls: In a small bowl, com­bine the mat­zoh meal, bak­ing pow­der, and salt and thor­ough­ly com­bine using a fork or your hands. Add the canola oil and com­bine well, mak­ing sure the fat is even­ly dis­trib­uted. In anoth­er small bowl, beat the eggs with the 1 tea­spoon water.

Pour the eggs into the mat­zoh meal mix­ture and mix well. Put a lay­er of plas­tic wrap direct­ly on the sur­face of the mat­zoh ball bat­ter and refrig­er­ate for at least 30 minutes.

After the chick­en has been sim­mer­ing for 112 hours, use tongs and a slot­ted spoon to care­ful­ly fish the chick­en legs out of the stock. When they’re cool enough to han­dle, pick the meat off the bones, put in a con­tain­er, cov­er, and refrig­er­ate until ready to use. Return the bones to the pot, cov­er, and con­tin­ue to gen­tly sim­mer for anoth­er 112 hours.

To fin­ish: Uncov­er the stock and add the dill and pars­ley. Add the breasts to the sim­mer­ing stock, cov­er, and sim­mer until cooked through, 12 to 16 min­utes. Care­ful­ly remove and check for done­ness using a met­al skew­er or the tip of a knife insert­ed into the thick­est part of the breast. If it’s cooked, the skew­er should be very warm to the touch. If it’s not, poach for a few more min­utes. Trans­fer the breasts to a plate to cool. Strain the stock through a sieve into anoth­er large pot. (Dis­card the bones and aromatics.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the noo­dles. Add the car­rot, parsnip, cel­ery and onion to the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Remove the mat­zoh ball bat­ter from the refrig­er­a­tor. Wet your hands to pre­vent stick­ing, then roll 8 to 10 balls the size of large mar­bles (about 1 heap­ing table­spoon), squeez­ing once or twice to light­ly com­press. Drop in the boil­ing pot of soup. Cov­er, then reduce the heat to medi­um, with the soup at a rolling boil. Cook until the mat­zoh balls have about tripled in size, are soft on the out­side and a lit­tle spongy in the cen­ter, about 30 min­utes. Cut one open to test; if they’re under­cooked, the cen­ter will be dark and dense.

Add the leg meat to the soup to warm through. Sea­son with salt, any­where from 1 to 3 tea­spoons. (The broth needs to be salty because the noo­dles will absorb the sea­son­ing from the soup.) Thin­ly slice the chick­en breasts and set aside. Drop the ramen noo­dles into the boil­ing water and stir. Cook accord­ing to the pack­age direc­tions. Drain and dis­trib­ute among serv­ing bowls.

Ladle the broth over the ramen in the bowls, along with some veg­eta­bles, the leg meat, and one or two mat­zoh balls. Lay a few slices of the breast into each bowl, sprin­kle with the scal­lions and chili oil (if using), and stand a piece of nori along the edge. Serve immediately.

Note To remove the chick­en breasts, place the chick­en on a cut­ting board breast side up, with the legs fac­ing you. Start­ing at the breast­bone, slice down­ward, run­ning your knife along the bone, slight­ly left of the cen­ter of the breast. When you hit the rib cage, angle the knife away toward the left breast, and slice the meat off the bone, pulling the breast away from the rib cage with your free hand. Keep slic­ing and pulling until you have detached the breast meat. Repeat with the oth­er breast.

Reprint­ed with per­mis­sion from Love Japan: Recipes from our Japan­ese Amer­i­can Kitchen by Sawako Okochi and Aaron Israel; with Gabriel­la Ger­shen­son, copy­right © 2023. Pho­tographs copy­right © 2023 by Yuki Sug­iu­ra. Pub­lished by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Pen­guin Ran­dom House

Sawako Okochi is co-chef and co-own­er of Shalom Japan in Brook­lyn, New York, with her hus­band, Aaron Israel. Sawa’s vibrant culi­nary back­ground is root­ed in her upbring­ing in Hiroshi­ma, Japan. She has worked at some of the finest restau­rants in New York City, includ­ing Chanterelle, Annisa, and The Good Fork. She also pro­duced the Otakara Sup­per Club, which was fea­tured in the New York Times, and appears in Women Chefs of New York and The Jew­ish Cook­book.

Aaron Israel dis­cov­ered his pas­sion for cook­ing while earn­ing his BFA at Mary­land Insti­tute Col­lege of Art. After grad­u­at­ing, he worked at August in the West Vil­lage with chef Tony Liu. He lat­er cooked with chef Andrew Carmelli­ni and helped open Tor­risi Ital­ian Spe­cial­ties. He has co-owned and oper­at­ed Shalom Japan in Brook­lyn with his wife, Sawako Okochi, since 2013.

Gabriel­la Ger­shen­son is a James Beard Award-nom­i­nat­ed food writer and edi­tor based in New York City. Her work has been fea­tured in the New York Times, Saveur, the Wall Street Jour­nal, and many oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She was an edi­tor of The 100 Most Jew­ish Foods and On the Hum­mus Route. She is cur­rent­ly on staff at Wirecutter.