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Isle® Makes Ramen Fancy
At the Ramen Throwdown, expert chefs battle against one another to perfect a steaming bowl of noodles, rich broth and fresh toppings. At the 2015 event, Isle®’s own Chef Klaus got bragging rights at the end of the evening, taking home the “golden bowl."
If you only know ramen as the cheap dehydrated stuff that comes in plastic packets and fuels college students, think again. Around the country, serious foodies are catching on to the art of preparing the ideal bowl.
Real ramen noodles are made from just a few simple ingredients: flour, salt, water and kansui (a type of alkaline water). While some ramen shops offer fresh noodles, it’s now possible to find higher quality fresh noodles in gourmet shops around the country.
Originally from China, the noodles caught on in Japan over a century ago and really gained popularity after the Second World War. Japanese cooks gave a new spin on the noodle to create their “national dish." Japanese ramen soups boast delicate flavors and widely varying ingredients, often balancing the rich, savory umami flavor of broth with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
At the 2015 Ramen Throwdown, ingredients included from shiitake mushrooms, to quail eggs and lamb bacon. The creative chefs raced against the clock, expertly slicing carrots matchstick-thin.
Chef Klaus dominated the competition with a combination of broth and bright flavors in the toppings. Using Tokyo noodles and a deep-flavored pork broth, he looked to classic Japanese ingredients for a well-rounded flavor: soy sauce, ginger, mirin and sake kept the dish perfectly balanced. To that, he added five-spice and a few other ingredients. To finish off the steaming bowl, he added a little mound of bean sprouts, thinly sliced and fried carrots, shiso leaves and green onions.
As ramen gains attention worldwide, more chefs are noticing the nuance and variety in this warming dish. Broth may be very rich or very light, made with poultry, pork, beef, vegetables, kelp or fish. Chefs can vary the depth of the broth flavor according to the ingredients they use and how long and hard they let it boil or simmer. Plus, adding in a bit of scallion or leek can temper the flavor of the broth. For a salty kick, chefs may use sea salt, soy sauce or rich miso. To finish it off, a bowl of ramen may boast anything from clarified pork fat to dried bonito.
Without knowing too much about the noodles, just one slurp of the concoction is likely enough to get you hooked. For the budding ramen enthusiast, this year’s Ramen Throw Down was a chance to see serious chefs applying their signature creativity to the dish. The Iron Chef-style competition kicked up the intensity for even more fun. At the end, Chef Klaus Krebs was awarded the golden bowl, a handcrafted bowl made just for the occasion.
For those wanting to taste the creations of a champion Ramen chef, Isle® Casino is proud to showcase Chef Klaus’s talents every day of the year. At Calypso’s Buffet®, the offerings are every bit as varied as the ingredients that can go into a bowl of ramen. Plus, you can help yourself to a buffet-style feast any time of day. At Farraddays® Steakhouse, all the dishes are made with fresh, local foods, so you can enjoy sides with vine-ripe flavors alongside premium chops or steaks. For a quick bite, Tradewinds Marketplace lets you pick up a hot meal to go, letting you refuel and get on with your gaming.
As for a steaming bowl of ramen, keep your eyes peeled. There’s no telling how Chef Klaus will incorporate his triumph into his next creations at the Isle. One thing is for certain: there's no limit to his creativity or artistry, so keep your taste buds curious.