The Slow-Cooker Chronicles/Toki — Thot’s so Ramen

Eating In, Eating Out

I know the title’s a stretch with 2 mediocre puns, AND it’s a combo recipe/restaurant review post, but bear with me. The restaurant portion needs no help, but like the title, I plan to rework and improve my cooking for next time. I wanted to document what I did as a jumping off point, and explain why I even went through all this trouble.

I happily jumped on the ramen bandwagon (thots love bandwagons) after a friend raved about his experiences at Toki Underground, a seriously tiny ramen restaurant in Southeast DC. Here’s me showing them some love on Yelp.

This was one of the top five meals I have ever had, hitting the mark on every type of flavor/texture I had ever imagined: sweet, spicy, crunchy, smooth, runny, salty, ALL OF IT. Do yourself a favor and call ahead on a weeknight (or weekend if you’re especially patient) and enjoy. I got the Red Miso ramen (spicy!) with a side of fried chicken (my friend knows what’s up). We had dumplings to start, and they were great, too. I mean seriously look at the top of the page.

There is no cute way to eat this, but when it tastes this good you aren’t thinking about looking cute. They even box up the broth and food separately so that your leftovers don’t get soggy. Two happy customers:

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Given how great Toki’s ramen was, and how freakin’ cold this winter was, I knew I had to give it the old post-grad try and make some soothing ramen at home. Plus I just love soup from the slow-cooker.

I did somewhat of a hybrid between these two recipes. Basically, I put 2lb of regular pork (may try shoulder next time) in the slow-cooker with

  • 32oz of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4c brown sugar
  • a container of sliced mushrooms
  • dash of soy sauce
  • about a cup of frozen diced onion
  • chopped scallions (however much was in the rubber-band pack)

I cooked it on low for about 6hrs since our slow-cooker tends to get (t)hotter than most, then shredded the pork and added 2 packs of plain ramen noodles (none of the seasoning) for a few minutes until they were cooked.

Topped with a poached egg and some Sriracha chili sauce:

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I’m looking forward to experimenting with some other flavors, maybe getting more adventurous with the broth and toppings. This was really yummy and could accommodate just about anything you have in your pantry, just not mind-blowing like Toki (not like I expected it to be). ThotFULL.

The Slow-Cooker Chronicles – Chili

Eating In

If I had to pick a kitchen tool that best represents “FoodForThot” it would be the slow cooker.

What could possibly be more basic (thotty yet brilliant) about pawning all the credit for hours of slooooow deliberate work off of an appliance? “Slow and steady” wins the race, but it also creates some of the most rich and complex flavors in cooking. “WhyNot” live your life while your slow cooker puts in the grind? I’m probably preaching to the choir so let’s get to the good stuff.

Chili has become my go-to comfort food for cold weather potlucks and tailgates, but it is just as easy and customizable for a cozy weeknight dinner (with leftovers — WIN).

Here’s the basic recipe (Gimme Some Oven) I’ve been using as the touchstone for my variations.

And here are some adjustments I have made:

  • I usually forget to buy/add cumin and instead just go heavy-handed on the chili powder.
  • My family loves black beans so I usually add a can. Between 4 cans of beans, 2lb of meat, and a healthy dose of tomato, my crock pot is usually pretty full. If you want to add other foods (corn, sneak some kale, etc), it’s probably worth sacrificing some beans.
  • We like our chili to make our eyes water, and in an effort to not waste food I usually chop the whole can of chilis in adobo sauce. It is H-O-T, but not so much that you can’t taste anything. More of a smoky heat, but keep cheese and sour cream on standby.

Here’s how we enjoyed it on Superbowl Sunday!