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First Look: Ivan Orkin's Ivan Ramen Cookbook

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Tokyo/New York ramen chef Ivan Orkin's new book Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint is a refreshing change of pace from the Fall's brutal onslaught of glossy chef cookbooks. First of all, Orkin's text is largely narrative. It tells the tale of how a Jewish guy from Long Island moved to Tokyo (several times) and eventually achieved the near-impossible by hitting it big on the ramen scene. Orkin weaves other stories into the book as well: the story of a corporate chef getting a second wind with a small, focused restaurant; the story of a Westerner acclimating to Japanese culture (with a bonus graduate-level course in navigating Japanese media); and the broader story of the elevation of ramen within Japan over the past decade or so. It's a compelling read.

Orkin includes the recipe for his double broth shio ramen. It contains ten components (eleven if the broth counts as two, twelve if you count a sofrito that goes into the shio tare seasoning). The recipe, including photos and sub-recipes and introduction, is 43 pages long. Not for the timid. Orkin encourages you to make extras of each component, and includes recipes for using up the leftovers. He also asks that if you actually make the whole thing, you don't force your guests to abide by traditional rules:

If you're going to spend morning to evening making a bowl of ramen that your friends and family will slurp down in five minues, you ought to consider serving some...appetizers and dessert. Don't treat yourself like a ramen shop owner! Draw the meal out a bit with beers and sake and shochu. Make a whole Japanese evening out of it. Accordingly, recipes for apps and dessert are included.

The book also contains a gem of a foreword by chef David Chang, a man who has been asked to write more cookbook forewords than anyone other than, possibly, Thomas Keller or Anthony Bourdain. It's a letter of advice for Orkin, from one ramen shop owner to another, on the ramen-eating habits of Americans. It's well worth a read. To quote Chang:

You're feeding people, you're going to bring people a lot of joy. It's a heavy duty thing when you get past all the bullshit. But do not underestimate the bullshit. The same can be said for most pursuits, really. Ivan Ramen was co-written by Chris Ying (whom you may recognize as EIC of Lucky Peach magazine), and contains illustrations by Walter Green and photos by Noriko Yamaguchi and Daniel Krieger (whom you may know from Eater NY as well as this very website). It is out now from Ten Speed (order on Amazon). Take a look:


· Ivan Ramen [Amazon]
· All Ivan Orkin Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Cookbook Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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