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A few months ago, at a very good Asian restaurant, I had ramen with chicken in it. The chicken was cut in small "flakes" (around 2cmx1cm rectangles and really thin), was super juicy, tender and had a special chicken taste like I have never tasted before. Searching for chicken ramen recipes I only found normal ramen recipes with big thick cut chicken pieces. Recreating them tasted like normal soup chicken (also when using msg).

How was this chicken made?

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  • 12
    Are you sure it was chicken? That sounds more like bamboo shoots.
    – Sneftel
    Aug 24, 2023 at 10:20
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    Addressing the "special chicken taste" – this could well just be effective use of flavour enhancers like salt, MSG and related condiments like soy sauce, as well as the use of a good stock to make the soup.
    – dbmag9
    Aug 24, 2023 at 19:59
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    are you certain that was chicken? The description sounds more like katsuobushi flakes, which are commonly used as a topping in ramen (or as a component in making dashi). As these flakes contain high levels of inosinic acid they can greatly increase the umami in other dishes, especially when combined with a good source of glutamate (such as MSG or, traditionally, konbu aka kelp) as in dashi. My guess would be that the chicken actually described the base stock of the ramen, and the flakes were katsuobushi not chicken
    – Tristan
    Aug 25, 2023 at 10:23
  • Finding a link to an online menu might be useful, if it's got pictures - we might be able to get a bit of a better look.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 25, 2023 at 18:08

3 Answers 3

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Perhaps the chicken was done Chinese-style, fresh from the wok, rather than pre-cooked. That would give 'tender' & flavour too.

Use chicken breast straight from the fridge. You want it really almost frozen. I have a 'half-way drawer' in my fridge that keeps a temperature of between 0 & 0.5°C, so it can be very slightly icy as it comes out.

Cut each breast in half, down its length, then slice across. I use a fork and razor-sharp boning knife to do this. Hold the fork against the nearside of the chicken breast, 2mm from the last cut & draw the knife towards you, using the fork to keep your cut steady, through in one cut. (You get two pieces per cut this way.) It's no good if you have to saw at it, you'll never get it thin enough. The boning knife has very little drag, so the chicken doesn't try to follow you across the board as you pull through.

I did this for dinner just last night - wish I'd thought to do some photos, because it's easier than it sounds;).

Marinate in light soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, crushed garlic if you like, for 30 mins or so.
Get your wok as hot as possible, add oil & stir-fry the chicken. It will take only between 1 & 2 minutes to get it 80% cooked.

Drop it in your still boiling ramen soup.
Serve.
The chicken will continue to cook on its way to the table.

Most people over-cook chicken.

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Sounds like it was perhaps braised or post-roasted and then flaked apart.

I do that in the oven for several hours in a covered Dutch oven, with several inches of liquid.

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    Flaked apart… into rectangles?
    – Sneftel
    Aug 24, 2023 at 18:55
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    Presumably some cutting was also involved, but the meat was described as "flakes"
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 24, 2023 at 20:53
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If I was attempting to make something like you describe:

  1. I would use chicken thigh meat, which has more flavor than chicken breast
  2. I would poach it at low heat so it maintains its moisture, possibly in a flavorful broth (roasting at low temperature will concentrate flavors, but is harder to get perfect; they might also use sous vide)
  3. I would let it cool after cooking, remove any skin, bones, and cartilage and then slice it thinly (professionals may also have access to a meat slicer; if you don’t have a sharp enough knife, you may need to refrigerate it so it won’t break apart when you slice it)

You could then slice into the smaller rectangles as desired, but when cutting across the grain it will often just fall apart on its own.

After slicing, keep it warm (or reheat it) in chicken stock until ready to serve, so it won’t dry out.

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