A Popular Food in Japan
Ramen is an authentic Japanese noodle soup served either in a bowl or pot. It usually consists of Chinese-style thin wheat noodles cooked in a fish or meat-based stock, sometimes flavored with miso or soy sauce, and includes toppings like scallions, cabbage, carrots, and pork. The word “ramen” comes from the combination of two words “ru,” meaning red, and “nu,” meaning grain. In Japan, the word for ramen literally means “dried red.” Today, a bowl of ramen can provide a hearty meal and is a favorite in Japanese restaurants.
There are two styles of ramen used today. The first is tonkotsu ramen, which is thinner, lighter, and less chewy than its western counterpart. The second style is udon, which is thicker, and richer, traditionally flavored with ginger, wasabi, or soy sauce. Both ramen styles are made by soaking raw wheat noodles in a seasoned broth. Traditionally, it is made from water, sake, or vinegar, but nowadays, it is made from either eggs or stock, depending on local availability.
Ramen can be served in several different ways. Most often, it is served as a simple bowl of noodles, along with some pickled vegetables. The traditional Chinese usage of ramen is to serve it with Chinese chicken rice, which is cut into thin pieces and simmered in the ramen broth with small pieces of chicken. You can also use this basic broth to make a delicious stir-fry, or eat it as is.
Ramen is typically served with many types of Japanese food. Spicy kabobs, seafood, meat, vegetables, miso soup, dumplings, and various side dishes like pickles, seafood, meats, and vegetables are common fare at Japanese restaurants. If you really want to go all out, make some pork ramen for a week-long stay in Japan! I have even seen it served in a pizza shop in Tokyo! It is served along with bread sticks, which may not be seasoned with seasonings like ginger and wasabi, or sweetened with fruit juices. As an example of a side dish, soy sauce is typically added to give it a sweet taste.
Ramen can be very healthy too. Although it is high in protein and carbohydrates, it is low in saturated fat and sodium. The key to eating healthy with ramen is to balance the amount of carbohydrates and fats you include in your diet. The more saturated fat and sodium you have in your diet, the higher your chances of developing health problems, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, can increase.
Ramen is a wonderful Asian cuisine choice. It pairs well with many ingredients, especially if you serve it with Chinese noodles, carrots, green onions, pickles, and soy sauce. If you are going to eat ramen in Japan, try the varieties from each region and cook them in a different way than the way you usually do.