Ramen is a delicious Japanese dish that consists of noodles, a meaty broth, and a large selection of vegetables. Ramen is popular all over the world, and you can buy it pretty much anywhere in Japan.
Ramen is easy to make, and you can add whatever vegetables and meat you’d like – it’s a pretty customizable dish to make! In this article, we will be giving you a guide for how to eat ramen, along with some fun facts about the dish (see also ‘Can You Eat Ramen Raw?’).
What Is Ramen?
Ramen is a classic Japanese noodle soup dish. Ramen is typically made with Chinese-style egg or wheat noodles, and they are thin and easy to eat. Ramen is served in a rich, salty, and meaty broth that has usually been boiled for hours with select aromatics.
Ramen is often served with cooked pork, chicken, or beef, with freshly chopped scallions and a soft boiled egg.
Ramen is also served with bok choi, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts, but these are not necessary to make a great ramen. The star of the show is definitely the ramen broth, as it should be super tasty, light, and rich.
How Is Ramen Made?
The noodles for ramen are made from wheat flour, water, salt, and an ingredient that adds elasticity to the noodles, called kansui. Ramen noodles are sometimes made with eggs, and these are made with egg, flour, and salt.
Ramen noodles are then packaged, and are sold in multi-packs in stores for a relatively low price. You can pick up ramen noodles from most stores, and you will be able to get a selection in most Asian supermarkets.
Next up, is the broth. In Japan, the broth is umami-rich and aromatic. Authentically, ramen broth is made from pork-based or chicken stock, where bones are added as well as dried sardines, beef bones, shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and kelp.
If you’re making your own ramen, you would usually make it with chicken or pork broth, garlic, onions, mushrooms, and chili.
There are different types of ramen broth, depending on the base that you might use. You would boil the broth, and add in the vegetables and meat. This includes chashu pork (pork loin or belly in soy sauce), eggs, scallions, bamboo shoots, seaweed, and a fish cake.
These fishcakes are typically only added in Japan, and they are made of fish paste shaped like a fish. You would add the noodles to the broth, so they do not get too soggy, but they absorb the flavor of the broth.
Different Types Of Ramen Broth
There are different types of ramen broth, and it depends on what base you use to make the broth. Ramen broth is frequently tonkotsu, which is pork bone based, and has a light color. It is made by boiling the pork bones with fat and collagen for several hours.
Torigara is popular too, which is a chicken bone based broth. These are the two broth bases, but you can flavor them differently. As follows, we have listed the most common flavor profiles of ramen broth.
Miso flavored ramen is relatively new, and is pretty popular nowadays. Miso flavored ramen is made from combining miso with chicken or pork broth.
Miso is fermented soybean paste. The blended broth has a nutty and umami flavor, and suits flavorful toppings such as cabbage, spicy bean paste, and corn.
Shōyu ramen is usually made with chicken broth, and soy sauce (see also, ‘What is Shoyu?‘). The soy sauce adds a salty but light flavor, and it pairs well with a variety of toppings, those often being bean sprouts, eggs, seaweed, and scallions.
Shio ramen is the oldest variety of flavored ramen, and it is quite clear, with a slight yellow color. It is typically made with chicken broth, but it can also be made of pork broth.
Shio means salt, and this broth simply consists of any meat-based broth, with added salt. This is probably the most classic flavor of ramen, as the flavors from the broth speak for themselves.
Karē flavored ramen is made from a curry soup based broth with pork bones. This flavored broth is relatively new and is not that popular, but it is served with the typical chashu pork and vegetables.
How To Eat Ramen
Ramen is eaten in a specific way in Japan, with certain tools. You want to make sure you’re eating it safely, as the broth is usually really hot, and you could get burned.
To eat ramen in the classic way, you will need a ramen bowl that has a certain shape, designated for ramen. Ramen bowls typically hold around 17 oz of noodles, and they need to be big and wide enough to hold broth.
Typically, Japanese chefs aim to have three quarters of ramen, to the ratio of one bowl. Ramen bowls are often ceramic, but they can also be hard plastic or steel.
You will also need chopsticks. If you do not know how to use chopsticks, it is never too late to try!
Chopsticks are the best for eating ramen because they can grip and lift the noodles, and they ensure you do not get covered in broth! If you can’t get the hang of chopsticks, you can use a fork and spoon.
Additionally, you should have a ramen soup spoon. This soup spoon looks similar to a small ladle, and it is called a chirirenge in Japan. It is deep, allowing you to get a lot of soup.
Now you have all of your equipment, it is time to eat the ramen! In Japan, they say “Itadakimasu” which marks the beginning of a meal, and loosely translates to ‘bon appétit’.
If you’ve ever noticed, Japanese people usually eat ramen really quickly (see also, ‘What do the Japanese Say Before Eating?‘). This is because it is meant to be eaten quickly, as the noodles will lose any elasticity.
The noodles are eaten quickly, with the noodles essentially being eaten in big amounts. The broth is then slurped afterwards. You know you’re eating ramen correctly if the broth is still hot, and you are sweating at the end!
When Was Ramen Invented?
Ramen originated in China, and made its way to Japan in the late 1800s, specifically 1859. Ramen is known as a Japanese dish as the Japanese highly customize it, but it is known for its roots in China, hence why it consists of Chinese-style noodles.
Why Is It Called Ramen?
The term ‘ramen’ originates from the Japanese usage of the Mandarin Chinese term ‘pulled noodles’.
Are You Supposed To Drink Ramen Broth?
Yes, you are absolutely supposed to drink the broth! The broth is the most flavorful part of ramen, and should definitely not be forgotten about.
Ramen broth is really flavorful, with a rich and salty taste. This is usually from the bones that it is formed from, along with any chosen aromatics.
Is Ramen Bad For You?
Ramen should be eaten in small amounts, but it can be easily altered, so it is not as high in sodium.
Ramen is not necessarily bad for you, but the broth is quite high in sodium, which has been proven to cause high blood pressure and heart issues. You can find broth bases that are not so high in sodium.
The meat in ramen is also quite high in sodium, but you can cook your meat a different way, or use just pan-fried chicken. The vegetables are good for you, so ramen is not necessarily bad for you, it just needs to be altered if you want it to be healthy.
Ramen is a delicious Japanese dish, and it comes in many forms. Ramen is eaten in a rather specific way in Japan, and it is quite easy to eat.
Ramen is made from a pork or chicken-based broth, with meat and vegetables, and it is a great dish due to how easy it is to prepare, and customize.