“In 2005, I stumbled into a ramen shop randomly in Little Tokyo in LA and had this ramen moment that really got me hooked,” says Anderson, who grew up in Wisconsin and now lives in southeast London.

“From then, I started to try to eat as much of it as possible and learn as much of it as possible. I didn’t think anything would ever come from it, it was just something I loved and was interested in – but then one thing led to another, and it’s really weird to think how different and unrecognisable my life would be if it weren’t for ramen.”

First, it led Anderson to get a research grant to study local food in Japan, then he enrolled in an English teaching programme – choosing to live in Fukuoka, purely because it was known for ramen.

“If I hadn’t lived there, I wouldn’t have met my wife, and therefore I wouldn’t have had my two kids, who I love,” Anderson, 39, says. “If it wasn’t for me being obsessed with ramen, my kids wouldn’t exist! It’s not a direct line, obviously, but it’s a funny thing to think about.”

Another big ramen moment came in 2011 when Anderson cooked it on MasterChef – which he then went on to win. “None of this would have happened without ramen,” he says in disbelief.

After already writing five cookbooks, Anderson has only now decided to dedicate his sixth book to his beloved dish.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

‘Nothing special’ ramen


(Serves 1)

20g lard

80g minced pork

2 anchovies

1/2 an onion, thinly sliced

A big handful of bean sprouts

2 garlic cloves, grated

1tbsp sesame oil

2tbsp red miso

1tbsp sugar

1tbsp white wine

1tbsp tomato purée

2tbsp shōyu

1tbsp peanut butter or tahini

A pinch each of white pepper and smoked paprika

500ml water

1tbsp grated Parmesan or Cheddar

1 portion shop-bought noodles

A big pinch of sesame seeds

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

Chilli oil, to taste (optional)

Salt, to taste


1. In a wok or medium saucepan, melt the lard over a high heat and add the pork mince, anchovies and onion. Stir-fry for a few minutes, breaking up the anchovies as you go, until the pork is cooked through and the onion has begun to soften. Toss in the bean sprouts and garlic and stir-fry for another one to two minutes, then tip everything out into a bowl.

2. Add the sesame oil to the pan and set over a medium heat, then add the miso and sugar and fry it for a few minutes until the aroma becomes rich and caramel-like. Stir in the white wine, tomato purée, shōyu and peanut butter or tahini and cook for another few minutes, then add the pepper, paprika, water and cheese.

3. Bring to the boil, add the noodles and cook them to your liking. Once they’re done, taste the broth and add salt or more water as needed – different noodles will absorb different amounts of liquid, so you’ll have to adjust for this accordingly.

4. Transfer the broth and noodles to a bowl and top with the stir-fried mince and veg and garnish with the sesame seeds and spring onion. Add as much chilli oil as you like.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Yu Xiang aubergine mixed noodles


(Serves 2)

1 large or 2 small dried shiitake mushrooms

150ml just-boiled water

1 large aubergine

Oil, as needed for shallow-frying

1tsp cornflour

2tbsp shōyu

1tbsp dark red miso (such as Hatchō miso)

1tbsp oyster sauce

2tbsp Chinkiang vinegar, Japanese black vinegar or similar, plus extra to taste

1 red pepper or a handful of small, sweet peppers, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

15g fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

1–2 dried red chillies, or a few pinches of chilli flakes (to taste)

3tbsp light brown sugar

1tbsp sesame oil

2 portions noodles

2 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle

2 egg yolks

50–60g Menma or tinned bamboo shoots

Chilli oil, to taste


1. Place the shiitake mushrooms in a small dish and cover them with the boiled water, then leave to rehydrate for about an hour. Meanwhile, cut the aubergine into batons or prisms about 2cm thick, and pour the oil into a large frying pan or wok to a depth of about 1cm.

2. Heat over a medium-high heat for a few minutes, then test the temperature by placing a piece of aubergine into the oil. If it sizzles vigorously immediately, the oil is ready. Add all of the aubergine to the oil and fry for about five to six minutes, turning often, until richly browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and drain well on paper towels. Tip the oil out into a heatproof container, but leave about one tablespoon oil or so in the pan.

3. Once the mushrooms have rehydrated, remove their stems and cut them into thin slices. Stir the cornflour into the resulting mushroom dashi and stir together the shōyu, miso, oyster sauce and vinegar in a separate bowl until no lumps of miso remain.

4. Ensure you have all of your prep ready to go before cooking, because the pace needs to be fairly quick once you begin. Place the pan with the reserved one tablespoon oil back over a high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the peppers and stir-fry for two to three minutes until browned.

5. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies, and stir-fry for another one to two minutes, then add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and sugar and stir-fry briefly so the sugar melts and bubbles.

6. Add the liquid seasoning mixture and stir well, then add the cornflour and mushroom dashi mixture and bring to the boil so it thickens. Finally, tip in the fried aubergine and stir well to coat. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm while you cook the noodles.

7. Divide the sesame oil between the two bowls and add a few spoonfuls of the aubergine sauce to each one.

8. Boil the noodles until tender, then drain well and tip into the sauce. Stir the noodles through the sauce, then top with the aubergine and its sauce, and garnish with the spring onions, eggs and menma. Serve with chilli oil and extra vinegar – add as much as you like.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Ramen Forever: Recipes For Ramen Success by Tim Anderson is published by Hardie Grant