Whether you like it spicy or smooth, chewy or crunchy, ramen is a staple of Japanese cuisine. It’s a comforting, satisfying meal that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. It’s also an easy dish to make at home.
In Japan, ramen has come a long way in terms of popularity and style. As it has spread throughout the country, chefs have become experts in different styles and flavors.
Tonkotsu, for example, is the most popular ramen in Japan and is a thick, creamy broth that’s been simmered with pork bones to break down their collagen. It’s a flavorful and satisfying soup, but it’s also very salty.
Miso, the fermented soy bean paste, is another important ingredient in ramen. It adds a layer of depth to the dish and is often used as a substitute for shoyu, or soy sauce.
Shio, or salt, is another common ramen seasoning and it’s often found in light, clear broths that highlight the ingredients themselves. It’s typically paired with chicken or pork and can be a good choice for vegetarians as well.
The broth itself has a range of flavors and personalities, which is why it’s a good idea to try more than one type before you settle on your favorite. Generally, there are three types of ramen broth: shio, shoyu, and miso.
Shallots, onions, and garlic are all excellent ingredients to add to your ramen bowl. They add a sweet and savory flavor that balances the spicy soup.
Tofu, soybeans, and eggs are also key ramen ingredients. The soft tofu is a good source of protein, while the eggs are a great way to add extra texture.
Various types of seaweed are also commonly added to ramen, including wakame and nori. Slices of steamed fish cake, called kamaboko, are also a popular topping.
A thick pat of butter is an essential component of many ramen dishes. It’s especially useful in miso and shio ramen as it makes the broth a richer, creamier consistency.
Other ingredients you may want to consider adding are sliced green onions, chashu, nitamago, or shiitake mushrooms, and chopped la-yu (fermented soy bean sauce). Some of these are optional, but they can really elevate the dish’s overall flavor profile.
A basic ramen soup is made with water, soy sauce, and chicken or vegetable stock. It can be made with store-bought or homemade chicken stock, but it is recommended to use homemade for the best taste and flavor.
It is also important to note that the amount of salt you add to the soup depends on the type of stock you use, so always taste it before you add any. Almost all store-bought stocks are low in sodium, but it’s a good idea to choose a brand that’s high in flavor.
Garlic – Simmering a little garlic with the soy sauce and miso helps it to quickly blend into the meat without burning, which is important in this recipe.