The ramp fever felt a bit milder this year, which is great because there were no lines for ramps at Mountain Sweet Berry Farm’s stand (last year there were people lining up for them even at 8am. I didn’t buy any from them last year because of the lines but now I see why people were lining up- they definitely have the most generous bunches of ramps for $5). Some people might think that ramps are overrated but seeing as they are only available for a limited amount of time and are foraged (not farmed), it’s not surprising that they’re highly sought after. They are similar to Chinese chives, but sweeter and not as pungent, which makes them more approachable and versatile.
A simple preparation of grilling ramps whole and seasoning with salt and pepper is satisfying enough but I decided to make a dressing to go with some poached chicken (inspired by Samsui Chicken).
1 tbsp Sea Salt
1/2 bunch Scallion
1/2 head of Garlic
2 inch Ginger (smashed)
Tuna Dashi Soy Sauce (optional, but this stuff from Shin Marusho is so good! Made with dried tuna, white soy sauce and mirin)
Start by washing your chicken under cold running water. Massage the whole chicken with the sea salt and place in a deep pot.
Add enough water to cover the chicken, then add the scallion, garlic and ginger. Place over medium heat and bring to a rigorous simmer.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes then cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Allow the chicken to cook in the residual heat for 45 minutes (the internal temperature around the thigh should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit). This is a method I took from Robert Dahni’s book, Southeast Asian Flavors, which is the best cookbook I’ve come across for Southeast Asian cooking. This is the best way to prevent overcooking and drying out the meat.
Remove the chicken (be careful not to rip the skin!) and submerge in ice water for 10-15 minutes to stop the carry over cooking and to achieve a nice texture for the skin (prevents the dull, dry and rubbery looking skin).
Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together. Cut up the chicken and pour the dressing over the top. Voila!