Usually shredded egg, ham, and cucumber top hyashi chuka, chilled ramen noodles meant for hot weather eating. The name, literally “chilled Chinese,” nods to the noodles’ origins. While its noodles crossed over from China, some ramen preparations can be squeezed into the yoshoku tradition of western foods adapted to Japanese palates.
Our completely inauthentic cross cultural mashup is inspired by our friend Lola Mulholland. Over the Northwest’s long, hot summer, the Instagram feed from the creative whirlwind behind Portland-made Umi Organic ramen featured a tempting series of cold noodles topped with things like sardines, kimchi, and chili oil. Our gardens full of tomatoes already had us thinking BLT. Cold ramen with bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes seemed obvious.
An added benefit of cooking bacon is the leftover fat. Killed or wilted lettuce, sometimes called ‘kilt’ in the regional dialects of Appalachia, has historically meant a mix of hot bacon fat, vinegar, and sugar poured over foraged greens. The dish likely originated in pork-loving northern Europe, and the German immigrants scattered across Appalachia brought their favorite foods. The tangy, barely cooked greens feel right at home in a bowl of cold, chewy ramen with juicy ripe tomatoes and smoky, crisp bacon.
Make the quick-cooking ramen first so you can toss it with a more traditional tare of white tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and Okinawan sugar and put it in the refrigerator to chill a little while you cook the bacon. Cook the bacon to your preferred level of crispy and save the fat (always save the fat!).
Heat some olive oil in a skillet along with some of the bacon fat. Stir in some apple cider vinegar and sugar. When it starts to bubble, pour the hot dressing over a bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce to ‘kill’ it.
Divide the chilled ramen between four bowls. Top each with a couple of strips of bacon, some of the dressed lettuce, and a small handful of split cherry tomatoes or any chopped ripe tomatoes. Add a squiggle of Kewpie mayo and a sprinkle of furikake or shichimi. East meets west, and the results are delicious.
The legendary Astiana Tomato—seeds dug out of an Italian compost bin and painstakingly bred by Anthony and Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm over many years of tasting and seed selection—are beloved by Portland chefs for their extraordinary depth of flavor. Developed explicitly for cooking, they’ve got the perfect balance of acid and sugar for making soups, sauces, and anything that needs the flavor of a good tomato, including the best homemade tomato paste ever. Our friend Kathleen Bauer of Good Stuff NW roasts and freezes them, but canning and drying are other options for putting up your supply.
These are only available for a short time every summer, so act fast and get your orders in today.
Mark your calendar for Saturday, the 11th of September. Our friends at the Culinary Breeding Network will be popping up in our famous parking lot with the literal fruits of their labor: two new-to-Oregon varieties of dry-farmed tomatoes. Come learn all about this drought-tolerant farming technique, and what makes dry-farmed tomatoes so special. We’ll also have tomatoes from a few of our favorite farmers, tomato tasting kits, and with any luck, a tasty tomato treat from one of our chef friends. More info to follow…
Our Olive Oil CSA helps to support our small farm partners. It works like this: Early in the year you buy a CSA share for $100. We use the cash to pay the farmers, and when the season’s olive oil arrives here, that share is worth $120. It’s good for anything we sell at Wellspent Market, not just olive oil. Money well spent indeed!