A noodle soup with a rich, flavorful broth served with a selection of toppings including chashu (slices of pork), menma (bamboo shoots preserved in salt), negi (chopped or shredded leeks or green onions), karanegi (spicy variation of shredded leeks), moyashi (bean sprouts), and tamogo (hard-boiled, soft-boiled, raw, or marinated eggs).
Ramen originated in Japan. Today, it’s a popular dish in the Western world as well. It’s available in tiny restaurants and late-night street carts.
Japanese-style ramen noodles come in many shapes and sizes, but they are typically made with wheat flour. Restaurants will allow customers to request the thickness and ‘doneness’ of their noodles. Some ramen-ya have ticket machines to ensure that customers can order quickly and easily.
The broth in a bowl of ramen is usually flavored with a system of flavorings called tare. Often, this means soy sauce and mirin, but sometimes, it’s a combination of other ingredients such as kombu (kelp), niboshi (dried sardines) or miso.
Some ramen shops also add vegetables and mushrooms to their soups. Wood ear and shitake mushrooms are common in most types of ramen, but the addition of kernels of sweet corn is especially delicious.
In some ramen styles, such as tonkotsu, meat is simmered longer to develop its flavor and thickness. Pork and chicken are typically used, but a variety of other meats can be found as well.
Noodles are a key component of most ramen dishes and they must be cooked to a certain degree before serving. This is because the noodles will absorb liquid and cook more rapidly than they would if left uncooked. Some ramen shops will even boil the noodles for two minutes prior to adding them to the soup, giving them a slightly chewy texture.
Most ramen shops use thick noodles and cook them to a slightly firm or hard consistency, but some will offer thinner or more soft-cooked noodles as well. Some ramen shops also include additional condiments in the noodle packet, such as soy sauce or sesame oil.
Depending on the type of ramen, additional toppings may be added to the soup and poured on top. These can range from simple garnishes such as a few slices of chashu or menma to flashy, eye-catching combinations that might include a slice of fish cake and a handful of nori sheets.
Toppings can be used with all types of ramen, from shoyu to tonkotsu to miso. The most common are chashu, menma, and tamago, which is a marinated egg.
Other toppings are bean sprouts, scallions, and a variety of seaweeds such as nori and wakame. These can be boiled, steamed or sautéed and topped with soy sauce, sesame oil, or chili paste.
For a more authentic experience, it’s best to visit a ramen shop where they prepare the ramen in front of you. However, if you want to make the most of your ramen, you can buy a packet and cook it yourself.
To make ramen at home, start by boiling water to create the broth. Then, drop in the noodles and cook them for three minutes. After that, stir in the ramen seasoning packet and serve.