You might recognize ramen noodles as one of the college dorm staples that students everywhere survive on. However, there’s more to these noodles than just an instant snack that takes a few minutes in a cup or a microwave to prepare. Let’s find out more about it.
When you start making soup, what is one of the most important ingredients? The broth. Chicken broth and beef broth are probably the two kinds that come to mind most often. But whether you’re thinking of Chinese-style chicken noodle soup or Vietnamese pho, Japanese-style ramen has much more in common with those than your mother’s homemade recipe that you grew up on whenever you were sick. The broth can be heavy (kotteri, or rich) or light (assari). Seafood and fish are two other broth flavors you will encounter. But the most popular is pork broth, known as tonkatsu.
Seasonings are also highly popular. The veggie flakes or dried vegetables you see in most instant packages can’t stack up to the types of seasonings you’ll find in real bowls of ramen noodles. There is sea salt (shio), soy sauce (shoyu), miso, chili or sesame oil, and monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.
Before we delve into the types of noodles you can choose from, here’s a tip. When you have some broth left in your bowl, don’t hesitate to ask for kaedama, which is another serving of noodles for your remaining soup. You’ll find freshly-made noodles in many noodle shops. Then there are dried noodles which are better for cooking at home, although it’s not unusual for restaurants to use them too. And then there are the instant noodles, first invented in 1958 and now renowned all over the world for how inexpensive they are, though they aren’t exactly nutritious.
No bowl of ramen noodles is complete without the toppings. Vegetables, meats, and sauces are just a few examples of what you can put on your bowl and make it radically different than the person sitting next to you. After all, everyone has different tastes in ramen. Try chashu pork, similar to Chinese char siu roasted pork. Kakuni is pork belly. There’s also bacon, scallops, mussels, and crab as options.
Are you looking for non-meat toppings? Consider eggs, scallions, cabbage, spinach, garlic, and the odd-looking enoki mushrooms, which are often thrown in raw but look like noodles themselves. You can also try kimchi and seaweed if you’re feeling adventurous!
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