Sunday, June 25, 2006

Menya Ramen

Ramen is a popular talking point with Sydney food bloggers - Grab Your Fork and and several others have reviewed some great ramen bars but as I headed to Haymarket for my ramen fix last weekend I thought I'd thow my two cents in as well.

Menya Ramen is in a little courtyard center surrounded by some great Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants, we are always torn when we get to the little collection of restaurants - dumplings or ramen, freshly made noodles or gyoza. Last weekend the cold wind and an SBS documentary the night before making us nostalgic for our time in Japan sealed it - Ramen!

Menya is owned by the company that runs Koh-ya, a fantastic yakiniku restaurant in Neutral Bay with equally bizarre decor. Koh-ya has brightly coloured bikes hanging on equally bright walls - Menya has a wall covered in a tangle of silver wire. Could be futuristic, could be a fencers worst nightmare.

In true Japanese style you order and pay as you enter the restaurant and then sit on a long communal bench while you wait for your steaming bowl of noodles. We ordered variations on the same thing - Miso ramen and Negi (spring onion) miso ramen. The soup is thick and tasty - with thick slices of tender pork piled on top.

Apart from the many types of ramen served, including spicy tantan men, they also serve several Japanese standbys - tonkatsu donburi (deepfried pork cutlet ricebowl) and unagi donburi (bbq eel ricebowl). I haven't ever got past the ramen but they look good too.

Menya Japan
Shp 8tg/ 8 Quay St Haymarket 2000
(02) 9212 1020

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Lemon Butter

Given a choice of desserts I find it hard to go past anything chocolate - ever. One of the only things that gives me pause for thought is a good lemon dessert. Lemon meringue pie, citron tarts - anything really filled with lemon butter/curd.

I used to make lemon butter when I was a kid, not for any dessert just to have a jar in the fridge to spread on toast or white bread with butter. I always used a recipe out of a 70's Time Life cookbook - the same recipe I use now actually modified slightly - I like my lemon butter really tangy so I increased the amount of lemon juice and tripled the recipe to make a full (big) jar. Did I mention that I REALLY like lemon butter?

There are a couple of things to remember when making this recipe - firstly don't be in a rush - if you cook it too quickly it will curdle. Also strain the lemon juice and beaten eggs as you add them to the mixture - this will stop lemon pips adding surprise texture to your butter but also unappealing white streaks of cooked egg.

Lemon Butter

90g (3oz) butter
180g (6 oz) sugar
3 eggs
3 lemons
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Melt the butter and sugar together in a double boiler. Strain in the lemon juice - if you don't like your lemon tart I suggest you start with 2 lemons and add more to taste. Add the grated rind.
Stir till the sugar is dissolved and reduce the heat slightly.
Beat the eggs well - you want to break up any stringy bits and strain into the lemon mixture.
Stir continuously with a wooden spoon - the mixture will curdle if not heated evenly, until the mixture thickens - this can take 10-15 mins. It's done when it coats the back of the spoon in a nice thick layer - it will thicken a little more once cool. While the mixture is still warm pour into a sterilized jar. Sterilizing jar is easy - wash your jar well in warm soapy water and rinse well. Pop the jar into a medium oven for a couple of minutes until dry. Cool before filling.

My Mom makes a fantastic lemon butter variation to which she adds fresh passionfruit when she adds the lemon juice. Reduce the amount lemon when you do this and taste before you add the egg to make sure there is enough sugar.