Whether you’re looking for a quick dinner or a gourmet meal, ramen can be your ticket to a satisfying meal. There are many variations of ramen, but each includes the basic elements of noodles, broth, and toppings.
The noodles used in ramen are made from wheat flour, egg, and water. They can be thin or thick, depending on the ramen style. A thicker noodle is typically paired with a heavier broth. Many ramen shops serve a variety of types of noodles, and a wide variety of styles. Some shops allow customers to choose the thickness of their noodles, while others make the noodles in front of them.
The broth can vary in color, heaviness, and seasoning. The most commonly recognized ramen broth is tonkotsu, which is made from pork bones. A ramen shokunin flash-cooks the noodles in boiling water before serving them. A good tonkotsu broth leaves a sticky, gelatinous sheen on the lips. Other broths are lighter, and include sea-flavored broths. A variety of aromatics are used in the broth, such as dried seaweed, bonito flakes, and edible kelp.
The broth can be flavored with soy sauce, bonito flakes, and other ingredients. A spice blend called shichimi togarashi is commonly used to add spice to the broth. Often, this blend is made from a mixture of yuzu rind, ginger, and sansho pepper.
Ramen has Chinese and Japanese roots. During the Meiji Era (1869-1912), Chinese immigrants settled in Japan and brought with them their own noodle dish recipes. These recipes were modified to meet the needs of the Japanese people. Today, ramen is one of the most popular dishes in Japan and overseas. There are many regional styles of ramen. Some local dishes are characterized by fat or oil.
The second key aspect of ramen is the noodles. The noodles can vary from wavy and straight, to thick and chewy. The noodles are made from wheat flour, egg, and kansui mineral water. The alkaline mineral kansui gives ramen noodles a chewy, earthy yellow color.
There are several different types of ramen noodles, but the two most common types are the thin noodle and the thick noodle. Noodles are sometimes served wavy or straight, depending on the shop. A variety of toppings can be added to ramen, but the basic toppings include chashu (sliced pork), beni-shoga (spicy mustard greens), and wood-ear mushrooms. Another common topping is kimchi. Other shops add crushed sesame seeds to the broth.
Toppings can also vary by region. In some parts of Japan, such as Hakata, shoyu tare (soy sauce) is served as a table side condiment. In some shops, you can choose to add shoyu or miso tare to the soup. Other shops marinate menma (soy bean paste) in the soup.
There are also esoteric flavors used in ramen, such as shichimi togarashi, ninniku-dare (garlic paste), and yuzukosho (an umami-flavored broth). Other ingredients include dried seaweed, corn, bamboo shoots, and chicken oil.
The broth of ramen can be made with pork or chicken bones, and a wide variety of aromatics. It can also be made with miso, soy sauce, and bonito flakes. A good tonkotsu broth will have a rich, milky, golden color.