The famous Japanese dish, ramen, has taken the world by storm, but a lot of people are yet to determine in what category it falls. Since it is boiled in water, it is natural to ask, is ramen a soup?
Ramen is a hot noodle soup with either animal or seafood broth. Therefore, it is indeed a kind of Japanese soup that, of course, differs greatly from our Western perception of what a soup should be.
Although ramen could technically be considered a soup in the Western world, the style of preparation and ingredients added are significantly different. Japanese ramen has a number of different recipes, depending on what region of Japan we are talking about, but it’s typically a noodle soup with broth.
What is interesting about ramen is that in Japan, it is considered to be a type of fast food. Overall, when compared to the Western idea of fast food, ramen is much healthier.
Unfortunately, the instant ramen packages that are available in our supermarkets will never taste quite as good as the ramen eaten by Naruto. We got used to cooking ramen in the microwave just for the sake of fast preparation, which is not the practice in Japan. Nonetheless, there are numerous recipes on the internet, and even with instant ramen from Amazon, some authenticity can be achieved.
Before you can start adding noodles to your ramen and other ingredients, the broth has to be prepared. It is the essential ingredient that gives most of the flavor. There are several traditional Japanese recipes for ramen broth:
- Shio – This is considered to be one of the lighter broths and is made with chicken or pork and vegetables. The color is clear or pale, and usually, a lot of salt is added to emphasize the flavor. Sometimes fish bones are added as well.
- Shoyu – Shoyu is considered to be one of the oldest recipes for ramen broth. It is made with chicken or vegetable stock mixed with soy sauce. The main characteristics are its strong salty and sweet taste.
- Miso – The Japanese miso soup is one of the more popular dishes in the Western world. The miso soup can be used as a broth for ramen as well. It is made from dried kelp, bonito flakes, and miso paste (fermented soybean). The main characteristic is its intense savory taste which often overpowers all other ingredients.
Toppings will give a lot of flavors as well. Over the years, people have started adding everything to ramen noodles, but here are some traditional Japanese toppings:
|Chashu||Slices of roasted, sweet pork|
|Kamaboko||Steamed fish cake|
|Tamago||Marinated hard or soft-boiled egg|
|Menma||Fermented and seasons bamboo shoots|
Because of its popularity in the Western world, many new recipes with all kinds of ingredients have appeared. Some of the most used toppings include cheese, butter, and mushrooms. However, we are willing to bet that every college student nowadays has a unique recipe due to the cost of ramen noodles in our supermarkets.
Unfortunately, instant ramen noodles are not quite like the ones found in Japan. Fresh Japanese ramen noodles are made from flour, salt, and water. Finally, lye water is added for that yellowish hue and chewy texture. As Italians have different pasta shapes and sizes, so too do the Japanese have different ramen noodles. Depending on the region, some will serve straight noodles, others curly, and so on.
When compared to other fast food, ramen has a much better nutritional value (especially if you make it as the Japanese do), so you might want to consider trying this delicacy if you haven’t already. Classic instant ramen noodles from our supermarkets are tasty as is, but if you go a step further and try to make ramen like in Japan, then satisfaction will be guaranteed. There are countless recipes on the internet, and you should definitely check them out.