With all due respect
, the way to make "really good" Japanese ramen
stay the hell away from instant ramen
and make your own from
scratch. Instant ramen bears about as much resemblance to real
ramen as macaroni and cheese
First of all, raamen (ラーメン) in their current form
are essentially a Japanese
invention, although egg noodles in soup are certainly known
throughout Asia. The word comes from Chinese 撈麺
(Mandarin lao1mian4), literally just "handmade noodles",
and has been known in Japan since at least 1665. Things didn't
change much until instant ramen was invented by Momofuku Ando
of Nissin in 1958. While the original soup hasn't made too many
inroads beyond Korea,
the instant variety
propagated throughout Asia in the blink of an eye, and to
the college dorms of America and Europe only a moment later.
Enough lecturing, on with the show... the following recipe serves 4
and should be consumed immediately.
Simple Shoyu Raamen (醤油ラーメン)
Spice (per serving!):
- 4 packs Chinese egg noodles
- fresh if possible, but outside Japan
you'll usually have to stick with dried and that's OK
- 8 slices roast pork (aka yakibuta, chaashuu, char siu)
- 1/2 long onion (Jp. naganegi, the closest
thing in the English-speaking world is a leek)
- 1/4 bunch spinach (optional, see below for possible substitutes)
- 6 cups water
- 2 bouillon cubes (beef, pork, or chicken)
- This is the easy way out, so if you have time and energy by all
means prepare a real stock, preferably from pork.
Without one, your results may be edible, but they will never be great.
- 2 tbsp sake
- 1 cm piece fresh ginger
- the green (inedible) part of two long onions or one leek
- Slice ginger. Cut green part of long onion into halves. Bring
water, stock cubes, sake, ginger and green onion to boil in large pot.
Keep on a rolling boil for about 5 minutes, then strain. Discard
everything but the broth.
- Blanch spinach and drain. Squeeze out excess water and cut
into 5-cm lengths. Slice white part of long onion thinly.
- Add spice to each individual serving bowl.
- Boil noodles for 3 minutes, then drain.
- Pour broth into bowls on top of the spice. Add noodles to soup,
top with roast pork, spinach and thinly sliced long onion (the previously unused white part, that is).
The "Big Three" Japanese styles are:
- salty or shio ramen (塩ラーメン), which leaves out the soy
- soy or shoyu ramen (醤油ラーメン), as demonstrated here
- miso ramen (味噌ラーメン), a specialty of Sapporo
Clamoring for the number 4 spot are tonkotsu
ramen, based on a strong
dark pork stock and Nagasaki
, with oodles of seafood.
There are countless variations and every town and hamlet in Japan
touts its own specialty. On top of the basic broth you can add
mung bean sprouts
), bamboo shoot
, sweet corn
almost anything goes, including moderately weird ingredients like
Ramen should be consumed with much slurping gusto, preferably
while reading a shounen manga so that you do not spray everybody
in the vicinity with noodle juice. Almost-obligatory side orders
are a half portion of gyoza (餃子) and a beer.
In Japan, most ramen places (ramenya) worth their salt will offer
you a free bowl of rice on the side if you ask, although then again,
at a ramenya worth its salt the soup portion will be so
humongous that you won't need to bother...