When it comes to ramen, the iconic Japanese noodle soup automatically comes to mind and its countless variations that have been tested over time and that have contaminated the traditional recipe.
What is ramen
The traditional Japanese ramen is a big meal, nutritious and tasty, consisting of four basic ingredients: a strong soup, a sauce called tare, the noodles for the ramen and one or more toppings, such as bacon, onions or eggs.
This is the simplest version, but it is already a long way from the instant and cheap preparations that can now be found in food stores or in the ethnic departments of supermarkets all over the world. Homemade ramen prepared according to the Japanese recipe is a healthy, balanced and delicious dish. Let’s see together the origins, the ingredients and the simple recipe to make at home.
The origins of ramen
This tasty and affordable dish has its origin in China in the late 19th century in port cities, in the form of hand-made noodles cooked in broth. The ease of preparation of the dish and its flavor were key factors in making it one of the most loved dishes of Chinese maritime cities.
After World War II, thanks to Japanese troops who had been stationed in China, the country’s signature dish made its way to Japan and the United States. The rest is history.
Within a few years, the Japanese had changed the basic ramen recipe by altering the liquid base and adding protein toppings to improve the nutritional content of the dish. Sales began to take off and Japanese ramen became one of the most loved and best-selling dishes among street vendors.
Japanese ramen has transformed over time thanks to the cultural contaminations of the various countries. So here’s an overview to find out more about this typical Japanese dish.
The broth to prepare the ramen
The simplest way to classify ramen is to distinguish broth . Of course, there are hundreds of Japanese regional variations and creations, but we can classify four ramen broths. How do they differ from each other?
Here’s how to tell the difference.
- Shio : is a broth made with chicken or seafood along with a little seaweed. The broth is extremely light coloured, and salty in taste, and comes from the Hakodate region of Japan. Some historians think this may be the oldest variant.
- Tonkotsu : is a rich and cloudy long-cooking broth made from pork bones, fat and collagen and originally from Kurume.
- Miso : Made from fermented bean paste, this spicy, nutty broth didn’t become popular until the early 1960s after gaining a following in Sapparo.
- Shoyu : A dark and flavorful soy sauce base, originally from Tokyo and is the most commonly used broth.
Which noodles to choose?
The fresh noodles used to make ramen are generally made with: wheat flour (occasionally eggs), salt, water and kansui , an alkaline water that gives the noodles their lightness and allows them to float in the broth and give their color yellowish.
However, there are different types of noodles that vary in some characteristics : color, shape and the actual percentage of water used to make them. For this reason, some noodles are more suitable with certain broths. For example, wavy noodles work best with lighter broths such as miso , while straight noodles pair best with tonkotsu broth, a heavier, greasier broth.
If you want to try other Japanese recipes see Uramaki with salmon and avocado
As for the toppings, you are now spoiled for choice. There are truly thousands of ramen topping combinations, but the best known are:
- eggs : the sauce generally includes a boiled egg marinated in soy sauce or poached egg.
- Vegetables : Typical vegetable dressings can be fresh or preserved. Fresh vegetable toppings usually include Japanese shallots, Japanese corn, and mushrooms. Those preserved are kimchi (seasoned cabbage and radishes), seaweed, bamboo shoots, and a special type of mushroom.
- meat : the Japanese tend to use pork to season ramen . It is first roasted in sweet soy or another type of sauce and then carefully sliced. Another way to prepare pork is to cut it into cubes after braising it. Chicken is also widely used for a less fat and lighter version .
How to make ramen at home?
The ramen recipe is not difficult, just get all the ingredients that are now easily available on the market and on Amazon.
Our recipe is a simple and easy to prepare version, consisting of: a savory broth, roast chicken, fresh vegetables, noodles and an egg. Inspired by traditional Japanese ramen, but ready in under an hour.
Find out how to make chicken ramen
Portions : 2 people
Calories per: Person 430
Total Calories: 860
- 2 chicken breasts with the skin
- freshly ground black pepper to season
- extra virgin olive oil to taste
- 2 teaspoons sesame
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce low in sodium
- 4 rich chicken broth cups
- 40 g dried shitake mushrooms or 1/2 cup of fresh
- sea salt to taste
- 2 eggs large
- 1/2 shallot
- 200 g noodles
Cook the chicken: Preheat the oven to 180 ° C. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with oil, an oven-safe pan, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until the skin is golden, about 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve.
Make the ramen broth: heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes until soft. Add the soy sauce and mix. Cook for another minute. Add the broth, cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, then add the dried mushrooms. Cook over low heat for another 10 minutes and season with salt to taste.
Make soft-boiled eggs: Fill a saucepan with water and cover the eggs and bring to a boil. Gently dip the eggs (still cold from the fridge) in boiling water and leave to simmer for 7 minutes to obtain a soft yolk. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Transfer the eggs to ice to stop cooking. Wait at least 5 minutes, remove the shell and cut the egg in half.
Meanwhile, chop the shallot. Cut the chicken into thin pieces. To put aside. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, until soft, then divide the noodles into two large bowls. Add the sliced chicken and ramen broth. Top with the fresh shallot, jalapeño and hard-boiled egg. Serve immediately