If you’ve seen the first episode of The Mind of a Chef with David Chang, you know what this is about. If you haven’t and don’t have a Netflix account, he makes a batch of gnocchi out of instant ramen noodles for Anthony Bourdain in, like, seven minutes. (His recipe is also in Lucky Peach Issue 1.) I knew I had to attempt this trickery at some point, which brings us to today.
Making ramen gnocchi is a strange experience, and yet, the final dish is not weird at all. It’s just that you start with packs of crunchy ramen noodles and end up with a plate of crispy, creamy dumplings. Noodles are soaked in milk and blended with egg yolks, and then the resulting pâte à choux is piped into dumplings, boiled, and then finally sautéed in butter. Seems easy enough, and yet…
My first attempt was on Saturday, and today I made it again, only halving it because a girl can only eat so many servings of gnocchi. I am not the first person to document this endeavor on the internet. Thankfully, really; posts from others were very helpful, especially since I lacked, oh, the recipe and all. Kudos most of all to Kitchen Tangents. As intended, her post saved me a lot of time. Also valuable: Eat a Lucky Peach (!)
Here is how it went for me (with photos from today, hence half the ramen):
Steeping the ramen: Yes, microwave the milk before boiling, if you can. I didn’t heat it too much before bringing it to a boil on Saturday and much of it evaporated. I also found straining the noodles to be unnecessary; I ended up 1/4 cup short of milk the first time, and today I didn’t even bother AND the batter had a better (looser) consistency.
Blending the ramen: In the posts I’ve read, everyone’s blenders just couldn’t handle ramen noodles. (Isn’t that what they were made for? David Chang’s was, obviously.) In vain, I first tried my immersion blender because I didn’t want to deal with the dreaded washing of the food processor and all its parts. I’ve never mixed concrete, but somehow this seemed similar. Adding more milk ended up helping, but it was still a pain.
Today I used my food processor and the half hour that it saved me is far greater than the time that it will take to wash it (tomorrow). Like, I did actually have to wait a little bit for the batter to cool before adding the yolks this time.
Simmering the gnocchi: If you have an actual pastry bag, you don’t really need a tip. I couldn’t find the right tip, so didn’t use one which worked out just fine. Other than that, the simmering was pretty straight-forward and without issues.
Sautéing the gnocchi: Now, here is where I epic-failed on Saturday. The final step is to sauté the gnocchi in butter until they brown. Not sure what I was thinking, but I threw all of mine into my casserole pot. A lot of the gnocchi got smashed and clumped together, and NONE of it browned because all of the brownness stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pretty disheartening, especially since it was totally avoidable. Still totally edible, though.
I cooked today’s gnocchi in two batches in a non-stick skillet and EPIC WIN. It really is easier the second time around.
He says to finish it off with lemon juice and fresh herbs (thyme and green onion here) and it’s just perfect. In case you were wondering, it tastes as much like ramen as it looks.
And yes, I would definitely make ramen gnocchi again, but probably wouldn’t go through all of that work again just for myself.