Ramen noodles are not just for slurping out of a bowl. Mr Jonathan Loong, a pastry and baking graduate from Shatec Institute, also uses the noodles as a base for pizza and burgers.

The 21-year-old, who recently completed full-time national service, uses instant ramen rather than flour to make the pizza crust.

He cooks the noodles, then mixes it with raw eggs and flattens the noodles into a pancake in a pan.

It is then topped with cheese before being baked in the oven.

He says people who prefer thick-crust pizza will like his ramen pizza.

"The ramen pizza is almost bread-like," he says "It is more filling and substantial than thin-crust ones."

Mr Loong got the idea from a friend, who made it for dinner after watching a cooking video on YouTube. He was so intrigued by the recipe that he made his version with scallops, tobiko (flying fish roe) and shiitake mushrooms for supper that night.

He likes the contrast of textures of the ramen crust. The noodles are fried to a golden brown. It is crisp on the outside, but moist inside.

The fan of Japanese cuisine shares his recipe for a chirashi ramen pizza here. It is topped with ingredients found in a chirashi don. They include torched slices of salmon, avocado, omelette and salmon roe. He adds that the pizza should be eaten immediately as it contains raw ingredients.

"The fun in making this dish is that one can be versatile with the toppings, so I can customise the pizza flavours based on what I like."

Over the past five months, he has whipped up ramen pizza topped with macaroni and cheese. He plans to make a chicken rice version as a tribute to his Hainanese roots. He also applied the same technique to ramen burgers.

The ramen pizza and burgers are among a handful of savoury dishes that Mr Loong makes.

However, baking is his stronger suit.

About four times a week, he makes chocolate cake, mango mousse cake, panna cotta, tarts, doughnuts and mooncakes.

Besides whipping up desserts, he also enjoys deconstructing and plating them with finesse.

Some of his artistic creations include a deconstructed lemon meringue tart - stacked pastry bars with lemon curd spheres and meringues on a plate smeared with lemon curd.

The oldest of three children says: "Coming up with plated desserts helps me challenge myself to be more innovative and gives me the same joy as decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments."

His 50-year-old father is a senior program manager, while his mother, 48, is a supervisor. Both work in the manufacturing industry.

Mr Loong gets inspiration from his occasional splurges at fine-dining restaurants such as Corner House in Singapore Botanic Gardens, which serves imaginatively plated desserts.

He says: "Having visually impressive food is important. With good-looking food, half the battle is won."


MAKE IT YOURSELF: CHIRASHI RAMEN PIZZA

INGREDIENTS

  • 550 ml water
  • 1 packet instant ramen (116g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 250ml canola oil
  • 80g grated mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan
  • cheese
  • 40g salmon sashimi, sliced into 6- to 7cm-long slices
  • Sashimi soya sauce to taste
  • 35g avocado, diced
  • 15g tamago, diced
  • 10g salmon roe
  • 10g lumpfish caviar
  • Wasabi to taste

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
  2. Bring 550ml water to the boil, add in a packet of instant ramen and cook for four minutes. Stir the ramen continuously while cooking. Drain the ramen and leave it to cool for five minutes in a mixing bowl.
  3. Crack an egg on the cooked ramen, add the salt and black pepper and mix the contents thoroughly with a fork. Refrigerate the mixture for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ramen onto a plate. With a spatula, flatten ramen to make it more compact. It should be about 16cm in diameter and about 1.5cm thick. Shape the ramen mixture into a circular form with a spatula. Refrigerate another 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the canola oil into a frying pan set over high heat. When bubbles appear, lower to medium heat and add in the ramen.
  6. Flatten the mixture with a spatula and push in strands of noodles around the circumference of the ramen mixture.
  7. Transfer the fried ramen to a baking tray and top it with the cheese.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Cool the baked pizza crust on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  10. Dip the salmon sashimi in sashimi soya sauce, place the slices on a metal tray and blow-torch each slice for about two to three seconds until they turn a light brown.
  11. Top the pizza with aburi salmon slices, diced avocado and tamago, salmon roe, lumpfish caviar and wasabi.

Serves two to four

 This article was first published in The Sunday Times on September 06, 2015.

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