When it comes to comfort food, ramen is in a league of its own. This soup-like noodle dish is beloved by people from all over the world and it’s no wonder, since it’s so easy to make at home. But what you might not know is that there’s so much more to ramen than just the noodles. This delicious Japanese meal has a rich history and it’s definitely worth learning more about.
While most people consider ramen to be a distinctly Japanese food, it actually has Chinese roots. In the Meiji era, when Japan began to open itself up to foreign trade, traders brought noodle dishes from China and adapted them to suit local tastes. One such dish was la mian, which is a Chinese-style noodle soup that became known in Japan as ramen.
The ramen you eat today is a mix of ingredients that differs by region and even by the specific ramen shop you go to. But the base of all ramen is the broth. Generally, a combination of Japanese soup stock, also called “dashi,” and chicken or pork stock is used. Then each ramen chef adds their own “tare,” which is a flavoring base that includes spices, herbs, and even fruit and vegetables.
After preparing the broth, the rest of the ingredients are added to create the finished bowl of ramen. A variety of toppings are available, including chashu (pork belly), tamago (marinated egg), grilled or steamed vegetables, and a soft boiled egg. Other options include miso paste, scallions, fried shallots, and sesame seeds.
You’ll find ramen shops in many cities and towns. They usually have long lines and are a great place to sit and relax. Before you order, take a look at the menu and decide which type of ramen you’d like. Most ramen-ya have machines that let you select your desired noodle and toppings. Once you’ve done this, pay and take your ticket to a seat.
There are many different types of ramen, but there are five main styles. Tonkotsu ramen is the most popular, with pork-based broth. Shoyu ramen uses soy sauce to season the broth and is lighter in color than other ramen varieties. Shio ramen is made with salt and is typically darker than shoyu.
You can make your own ramen at home using instant noodles or buy it from a ramen shop. Instant ramen is quick to prepare and requires no cooking, but it does taste slightly different than the fresh versions. The difference is in the amount of sodium, the texture of the noodles and the amount of flavorings that are included. The fresh versions require a bit more work, as you have to boil the noodles and prepare the concentrated broth from scratch, but they are still a convenient way to enjoy this Japanese favorite. In addition to the instant noodle packets, you can also buy fresh ramen and tare sauce at some Japanese grocery stores. This version takes a little more time to prepare but it is worth it for the fresher, more authentic flavors.