When you hear the word “ramen,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably a polystyrene cup filled with the salty instant noodles that you ate way too much of back in college. But there’s been a revolution over the past few years, and real ramen — big, steaming bowls of impossibly rich broth, springy noodles, and countless add-ins — has finally become easy to find on this side of the Pacific. Suddenly, generic cup noodles have been replaced with a wide variety of delicious ramen recipes, and it can get a little confusing for those looking to take their first foray into this legendary and comforting dish.
A Beginner's Guide to Ramen Styles (Slideshow)
First things first: what, exactly, is ramen? In Japan, ramen is nothing short of a cultural icon. Ramen noodles are typically made from wheat flour, salt, water, and an alkaline mineral water called kansui that gives the noodles a yellow hue and firm texture. Noodles can be thick, thin, hard, soft, straight, or wavy, but, at the end of the day, they need to have the perfect chew and serve as a vessel for the broth.
Technically, a bowl filled with just broth and noodles can call itself ramen, but that’s only half the fun. Just about every bowl of ramen contains a slab of roast pork, called chashu, and a soft-boiled egg. Other typical add-ons include sprouts, scallions, dried seaweed, garlic, and even corn and butter. And if you run out of noodles and still have some broth left, just order an extra serving of noodles, called kaedama.
Ramen is certainly having a moment right now, enjoying a popularity that’s reserved for only the trendiest foods. The “cult of ramen” is populated by the chefs who push ramen to its limits and the fans who wait hours in line for the best bowls around.
In our guide to ramen, the first four varieties encompass the main flavoring (tare) styles — tonkotsu, shio, shoyu, and miso — and the remaining slides detail some of the most popular regional styles, including Tokyu, Kyoto, and Sapporo. Each of these regional styles incorporate one of the major flavor varieties but have unique add-ons. In short, if you didn’t know anything about ramen before reading this article, you’ll know a lot more by the time you’re finished.
Photo Modified: Flickr/Insatiablemunch/CC4.0
The vast majority of ramen you’ll find are tonkotsu, meaning that the broth is made from boiling pork bones for hours in order to extract their flavor. Tonkotsu broth has a milky hue and is rich and satisfying.
Shio, which literally translates to “salt,” is lighter and less milky than tonkotsu. The stock is made with dried seafood and seaweed, making the end result briny and incredibly rich in umami.
Easy Homemade Ramen
I grew up on packaged ramen all my life. It was a budget-friendly staple in our very Korean household.
We would even add a “garnish” of Kraft American cheese slice right on top.
I know. It’s not the healthiest thing for you.
So let’s stick to the homemade version with our favorite veggies.
But first. I will say this. This is no 2-minute dinner.
But with 30 minutes, you’ll be able to make it from scratch using pantry staples and veggies you already have on hand.
It really makes for the perfect clean-out-the-fridge meal. Although the spinach-carrot-mushroom combo is hard to beat.
Just be sure to add half a hard boiled egg since it’s pretty and all. Plus, it’s protein.
Classifications for the Broths
You often see ramen categorized into four classes: shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (fermented bean paste), and tonkotsu (pork), which doesn't make particular sense, as the first three are flavorings, while the fourth is the broth base. It's sort of like saying "there are four basic types of pizza: Neapolitan, Sicilian, New York, and pepperoni."
While it's true that even with strictly Japanese style ramen, some folks see those four classes as distinct, there are plenty of cases where there are overlaps and outliers. For instance, what would you call a creamy, opaque, heavy ramen that's made entirely with chicken bones? It doesn't fall neatly into any of those categories, but it certainly exists.
Instead, it makes much more sense to categorize ramen broth first by its heaviness, then by the soup base ingredients, and finally by the seasoning source. This classification system, used by some Japanese sources, can be combined to cover pretty much every bowl of soup-based ramen in existence.
Beyond ramen and pho: A beginner’s guide to Asian noodle soups
Love is the family pack of instant ramen that didn’t fit in my luggage. After seeing me off at the airport, my mom drove to the post office to send it express, so it’d arrive at my dorm by the time I landed.
As a college student in the mid-’00s — around the time serious ramen shops from Japan were opening outposts in New York City — instant ramen wasn’t just a taste of home. It was practically currency.
These days, there’s a “best Asian noodles” listicle for every major U.S. city, and though public fervor for la mian or pho may rise or fall with the times, this much is clear: Noodle soup is here to stay. It is an essential fixture of American eating.
The more noodle-lovers eat, the more they learn. There isn’t just ramen, but whole styles of it, from spare, salt-licked shio to creamy tonkotsu. And at this point, for every style of noodle, there’s a restaurant in America that specializes in it. Whether you seek northern pho in Houston or Korean ramyun in Los Angeles, it pays to be specific.
Here then is an introductory guide to East and Southeast Asia’s noodle soups — beyond the ramen and pho you likely know. Is it comprehensive? You bet your mohinga it’s not. But consider it your menu cheat sheet when deciding between boat noodles and mi xian for dinner.
Ramyun: South Korea
Instant ramen isn’t just big in Japan and the U.S. it’s also a hit in South Korea, where Nongshim Shin brand is a packaged-food force to be reckoned with. Flavors and kitchen additions vary there as much as they do in Japan, but like much Korean cooking, ramyun tends toward bold aromatics, like garlic and black pepper and spice from kimchi or red chiles. At Jeju, a Korean ramyun bar in New York, pork ramyun gets its red hue from a fat spoonful of gochujang, and it’s garnished with daikon kimchi — not actually spicy but undoubtedly Korean.
Ramen may be Japan’s most popular noodle to eat out, but in home kitchens, udon’s the thing for meals that go beyond a flavor packet. A thick, pliant noodle made from a simple wheat dough — it doesn’t get the alkaline treatment that gives ramen its springy texture — udon is typically packaged fresh and refrigerated rather than dried. Though you can submerge udon in anything from curry to hot pot, it’s typically served in a simple broth made with dashi, light soy sauce and sweet mirin. Tempura and sliced scallions are common toppings, but at New York udon shop Raku, you can up the ante with monkfish liver or bacon.
An ancient noodle made from buckwheat flour, soba predates ramen’s arrival in Japan by hundreds of years. Though it’s often adulterated with wheat flour for easy shaping, the purest versions are only made with buckwheat, and soba chefs study the craft of noodle-making with as much intensity as their sashimi-slicing peers. In the summer, the nutty-tasting noodles are served cold — often nested on a plate to dip into shoyu — to help you cool down and best appreciate their unique grainy texture. But come winter, say if you’re making toshikoshi soba to celebrate the new year, they’re usually served hot in a dashi, soy sauce and mirin broth. You can get both styles at Suzu Noodle House, an old lion of San Francisco’s Japantown.
Lagman: Xinjiang, China
The westernmost part of China along the Tajik and Kyrgyz borders, the Xinjiang autonomous region is one of the homes of the Uyghurs, an ethnic group that also has roots in Uzbekistan and Russia. Lagman, a wheat noodle imprinted with knotty kinks from the fingers that stretch it, is the dish that ties the Uyghurs’ many nationalities together. It’s commonly thrown into hearty beef or lamb stock with anything from chickpeas to cabbage to tomatoes, along with Central Asian spices like cumin and caraway. Think hearty hibernation fare to survive the Uzbek or Russian winter. And find it in places serving food from those countries, like Traditional Russian Cuisine in Portland, Oregon.
Guo qiao mi xian: Yunnan, China
In southwestern Yunnan Province, the go-to noodle is mi xian, made from a rice-and-water batter that’s fermented before extruding to turn it bouncy and pliant. It’s sold fresh at morning markets and used for all kinds of soups, but the most famous internationally is “crossing the bridge noodles,” a dish that’s served deconstructed: light broth, fresh noodles, raw and cooked meats and vegetables and pickles and condiments arrive each in their own bowls. They are then assembled and “cooked” at the table in mere minutes. The result is an especially aromatic soup with a touch of dramatic flair. It’s been popping up a lot on Instagram recently, but Yun Chuan Garden and Spicy City in Los Angeles have been serving it for years.
Beef noodle soup: Taiwan
Taiwanese cooking is a unique fusion of multiple mainland Chinese cuisines, Japanese aesthetics and native ingredients, and many consider beef noodle soup to be the island’s national dish. The opaque, dark-brown broth has a rich beef base, ideally with lots of marrow bones, and may be seasoned with chile bean paste, tomato, Sichuan peppercorn, star anise, soy sauce, cinnamon and then some. Just as important are fat hunks of beef, rich in connective tissue and hopefully with some chewy tendon to boot, to canoodle in the bowl with round or flat wheat noodles. With its sizable Taiwanese population, Los Angeles is the beef noodle soup capital of the U.S., and Bull Demon King in the San Gabriel Valley is the new go-to spot.
Bún bò Hue: Vietnam
Bún = rice noodles, bò = beef, and Hue = a central Vietnamese city often overlooked for its nuanced cooking. This spicy noodle soup may be its best known export, and with its deep beef-and-pork broth, heartier noodles, floating cubes of congealed blood and tangle of fermented shrimp paste, lemongrass, and herbs, it’s just as worth getting to know as pho. While there aren’t many bún bò Hue specialists stateside, many of the pho shops in Dorchester, Massachusetts, a Vietnamese hot spot just south of Boston, also serve the dish. Try Hien Vuong on Dorchester Avenue for starters.
Boat noodle soup: Thailand
It’s not street food — it’s canal food. Historically served off boats in Bangkok canals, boat noodle soup is a quick and hearty bowl of beef or pork broth with rice noodles, slices of meat, pork skin, meatballs and often — but not always —a slurry of ferrous blood to thicken and enrich the dish. As with many Asian noodle soups, it arrives with some assembly required restaurants typically serve the bowl relatively plain so you can dress it up with vinegar, sugar, chile paste, fried garlic and pickled chiles to your taste. At Pye Boat Noodle in New York, you can get your boat noodles with a variety of broth bases while digging into other Thai street snacks like grilled meatballs and grilled, marinated jerky-like pork.
Khao soi: Thailand
In Thailand, it’s usually the southern regions that sauce up their curries with coconut milk, but this northern soup is a noteworthy exception. Effectively a hybrid of chicken noodle soup and mild curry, Chiang Mai’s khao soi is a rich, comforting bowl featuring stewed chicken leg, pickled vegetables and preserved chiles on the side and two kinds of noodles: soft round ones in the bowl, and crispy fried ones on top as a garnish. After a contentious skirmish between dueling across-the-street khao soi shops in 2015, Ugly Baby emerged in 2017 as New York’s go-to creamy noodle soup spot.
La paz batchoy: Philippines
As with many foods in the Philippines, there’s no one way to make la paz batchoy. The broth may be based on chicken, pork, shrimp or a combination. You may get a hardboiled egg on top or a raw one that cooks in your bowl. It may get licked with chile heat or not at all. But there are two constants: soft, rich egg noodles and lots of pork offal, such as liver, intestine and kidney. It all creates a rich mineral taste bolstered by fermented shrimp paste. Crumbled pork cracklings are an essential crisp topping for the dish. At House of Inasal in New York, you can choose your egg raw or hard-cooked, but the liver is mandatory.
Laksa: Malaysia and Singapore
Like ramen, laksa is really a whole family of seafood and rice noodle soups spread across Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and even Thailand, but especially Malaysia and Singapore. The two overarching types to know are curry laksa, milder with a creamy coconut curry base, and assam laksa, which skips the coconut for a sour broth of tamarind, kokum or other souring agents. Though curry laksa sometimes comes with chicken, shrimp is the usual protein, simmered in a broth built on curry paste and brightened with cilantro. Assam laksa can get punishingly sour and funky with fermented fish in the broth, which is how Malaysian import PappaRich does it at locations in New Jersey and New York.
A typical Burmese breakfast, mohinga combines fish broth with rice noodles (sometimes the fermented kind, aka mi xian in China) and aromatics like lemongrass and ginger for a soup that balances sweet, salty, sour and funky flavors. It’s often thickened with ground, toasted rice or chickpea flour — a common Burmese technique — and stained yellow by turmeric. Though ubiquitous in Myanmar, it’s hard to find in the U.S., owing to a paucity of Burmese restaurants. But people line up around the block for mohinga and tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar in San Francisco.
Most Tibetan cuisine is hearty fare, and this is certainly the case for thenthuk, a noodle soup common in Amdo city. It’s made with thick hand-pulled wheat noodles or roughly cut squares of wheat noodle dough that simmer into pillowy dumplings. In Tibet, the vegetable additions are mainly a question of what’s available the broth itself is made from yak or sheep, though in the U.S. beef is the more common choice. That’s how it’s done at Lhasa Fast Food in New York, where the beef broth and knife-cut noodles are joined by tender slices of beef, crunchy wood ear mushrooms and bracingly hot chili oil that you can add to your taste.
Soto ayam: Indonesia
A chicken and rice noodle soup as curative as a bowl of matzo ball, soto ayam is all about balancing the simple flavor of poached chicken with the intensity of earthy fresh turmeric, spicy ginger, fragrant herbs and oily candlenut. The broth, a rich yellow from that turmeric, also gets seasoned with makrut lime leaves and lemongrass. To bulk up the dish even further, it’s common to add cooked rice or chunks of boiled potatoes to the bowl along with the rice noodles and shredded chicken. At Kopi Kopi in New York, the soto ayam gets two not-at-all-Indonesian additions: nori, toasted sheets of seaweed and menma, Japanese fermented bamboo shoots. It’s part of a rebranding effort on the owners’ part to make the dish more accessible to the city’s noodle slurpers. They call it soto ramen.
Gotouchi (Regional) Ramen: Variation Across the Nation
Essentially, regional types of ramen — or gotouchi ramen in Japanese — build upon the four bases by adding extra ingredients, usually seaweed and/or seafood. Over time, certain preparation techniques became linked to certain regions, which is why there are ramen variants that are named after places in Japan.
From Hokkaido up north to Okinawa down south, here are some regional varieties of ramen to get acquainted with. These aren’t the only examples, though — you’re bound to encounter some other local variants on your travels across Japan!
1. Sapporo Ramen (Hokkaido)
Blessed with abundant seafood and sprawling fields ideal for raising cattle, Hokkaido is paradise for foodies, so it’s no surprise that three of Japan’s most popular regional ramen are from the prefecture.
Named after Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo ramen is made with a pork-bone broth that’s flavored with miso. More than the tonkotsu, it’s the miso that’s the broth’s distinguishing characteristic. The noodles are curly and semi-thick.
On top of common ramen toppings like chashu pork and menma bamboo shoots, Sapporo ramen is often served with corn and butter, some of Hokkaido’s agricultural specialties. If you’ve heard of miso butter ramen, it’s a Hokkaido — particularly Sapporo — specialty.
2. Asahikawa Ramen (Hokkaido)
Asahikawa’s thick, lard-rich ramen is mainly soy sauce-based, and is commonly eaten to keep warm and full during Hokkaido’s extremely cold winters. The Asahikawa style uses thick, wavy noodles, and the broth usually adds seafood and pork-bone stock for extra flavor.
What makes this type of ramen stand out is the heaping layer of lard atop the soup and the noodles. Asahikawa ramen may be a bit too heavy to eat on a summer day, but it’s the perfect food to slurp up when it’s cold outside!
3. Hakodate Ramen (Hokkaido)
Completing the trinity of top-notch Hokkaido ramen is the Hakodate style, which is notable for being the only salt-based regional ramen variant. The resulting soup, which usually has added pork- or chicken-bone stock, is light and clear, and the noodles tend to be thin to semi-thick.
Aside from the usual chashu, menma, scallions, and fish cakes, Hakodate ramen sometimes also uses corn as a topping.
4. Kitakata Ramen (Fukushima)
Commonly considered along with Sapporo and Hakata ramen to be one of Japan’s top three regional variants, Kitakata ramen hails from Fukushima Prefecture’s Kitakata City, which has the highest number of ramen shops per capita in Japan.
This city may be small and relatively obscure compared to urban Sapporo and Fukuoka, but it has over 100 ramen shops, many of which serve ramen even at breakfast time. It’s not unheard of for dedicated ramen lovers to come all the way here for a taste of the city’s homegrown noodles!
Kitakata ramen noodles are firm, thick, and curly, as they have a higher percentage of water than typical ramen noodles. They’re usually served with a soy sauce-based broth, which some restaurants infuse with niboshi sardines and/or tonkotsu, then topped with menma, naruto (pink-and-white fish cake), chashu, and scallions.
You can also find some Kitakata ramen restaurants in neighboring cities like Aizu-Wakamatsu, a historical area with well-preserved cultural artifacts.
Juicing 101 A beginner's guide to getting started with juicing
No, these are two very different things. They're both very healthy for you, and one isn't better than the other, necessarily.
A smoothie is made in a blender. It's blended, not juiced. With a smoothie, you retain the pulp (which is insoluble fiber). This can be either gross or good depending on what you're blending. A blended drink yields a lot more because of the pulp, and some people like that, but others find it difficult to drink all of it.
Juice is juiced with a juicer. Juicers 'juice' your produce and separate the pulp (the insoluble fiber) from it. You discard the pulp and drink the juice. You still get fiber in the form of soluble fiber. I know, crazy, right? You just learned something new today.
Juicers are things like a Breville juice fountain, Omega VRT350, Omega 8006, etc. Not a nutribullet! A nutribullet is a blender that blends. Those blades chop things up like every blender works. It has pulp in it no matter how much you blend it. It can't turn into juice unless you separate the juice from the pulp or you apply magic to it (like their marketing team does).
If you only have a blender and still want to juice, you still can! If you get a cheese cloth or something similar, you can strain your blended drink and turn it into juice. It's a little more work and wont yield as much as a good juicer, but it's something.
If you want to read more about juicing vs blending, take a look at our article on Juicing vs Blending.
There's nothing wrong with smoothies. We love those too, and we even have a separate site dedicated to smoothie recipes because we consider the recipes to be so different. This isn't a battle of "what's better? Juice or smoothies?", it's a battle of "what do you like best?"
My friend said juicing isn't healthy because you don't get any fiber.
Fiber is what helps move food through the digestive system, but it's not digested. There's two types of fiber: 'soluble' and 'insoluble'.
When you juice, the pulp you see in the 'pulp bin' is mostly the insoluble fiber.
You're still getting plenty of soluble fiber in your juice. Even if your juice gave you 0 grams of fiber, it would still be very healthy for you.
It's like saying that your water isn't healthy because it doesn't have fiber in it. Juice is a healthy beverage and shouldn't be relied on for your insoluble fiber.
What's the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber is the left-over pulp after juicing. Only a small amount of this makes it to your juice. If you were to mix insoluble fiber in a glass of water, it would sink to the bottom, absorb the water and puff up. If you imagine that moving through your body, you can picture what it does for you. It's beneficial to help get things 'moving' and prevents constipation.
Soluble fiber will make it to your juice. Soluble fiber is 'soluble' in water. Soluble fiber (like gums and pectins) will partially dissolve in water and form a type of gel. Soluble fiber absorbs digestive bile made by cholesterol, which creates even more digestive bile, which then helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Soluble fiber also can help moderate your blood glucose levels because it helps sugar to be more slowly absorbed, which is why some diabetics report juicing to be helpful to them.
We personally love the consistency and the great flavors we can make with juice. We can put weird things like sweet potatoes in our juicers and create a delicious dessert-like juice, but we sometimes feel a bit limited with flavors in our smoothies.
What's the easiest way to get started juicing?
Our Juice Challenges were created by us to make this whole juicing thing as simple as possible while still allowing you to challenge yourself to get into a healthier habit/lifestyle of juicing. Our free challenges aren't juice cleanses, they're a challenge to drink a minimum of 1 glass of juice a day, every day, for the length of the challenge. You still eat normally.
The reason why it's suggested for a beginner is because we supply you with a shopping list and we tell you which recipe to make every day using that shopping list, so we've taken a lot of the thought out of juicing so you can just focus on enjoying it.
After a challenge, you'll have a new sense of how flavors come together in your juice and you'll be able to start experimenting with your own recipes. People have lost weight and feel great after going through a challenge. Give it a try!
Other Fun Things
If you get a weird vegetable from the market, you can see if it exists in one of our recipes on our ingredients page or check out the nutrients in it by visiting our juice builder page.
Also, be sure to check out our collection of juice recipes at the top of this page. You might find it's exactly what you're looking to start with.
Essential Tools for Making Ramen at Home
Before we get into the actual process, there are a few tools that are absolutely necessary for making ramen (the noodles) at home.
The first is a digital scale that can accurately measure gram quantities. Small deviations in ingredient quantities will have profound effects on the noodle you produce, so using an accurate scale is absolutely imperative. I have listed the ingredient quantities solely in grams, so there's no way to try to fudge your way around this requirement.
The second is a pasta roller or a pasta rolling attachment for a stand mixer. You will not be able to make this recipe without a pasta roller of some kind if you do not have a pasta cutter, you can still cut the noodles by hand, but it will be impossible to roll out and knead this dough by hand. The quality of your pasta roller is also somewhat important: I did much of the testing for this recipe at home, where I have a Marcato Atlas roller, which works fine, but when I used the Imperia roller in the Serious Eats test kitchen, the process was much, much easier. That said, the actual noodles were basically indistinguishable from one another. (You can find our favorite tools for making, cooking, and serving pasta right here.)
Finally, you will need either a food processor or a stand mixer to mix the dough. Either works fine, but if you want to scale the recipe up past four portions of noodles, a stand mixer is better equipped to handle larger batches.
Aside from those essentials, a rolling pin (of any kind) helps, as does a bench scraper, but they aren't strictly necessary.
6. Learn the Basic of Knife Skills
Chopping, slicing, and mincing are the very first things you do when you begin cooking. It’s something you do a lot in the kitchen. That’s why any trainee chefs are always put in charge of cutting ingredients first before they get to stand in front of the stove.
Good knife skills equal to efficient cook. You don’t need a super expensive knife, but I recommend investing in a good, reliable knife that can last you a long time.
When cutting ingredients, the number one goal is to achieve an even, uniform size. This ensures everything cooks evenly and is done at the same time. It also helps improve the flavor, texture, and presentation of the food. Focus on that, start slow, and then practice. Speed will come in time.
In Japanese daily cooking, we also apply cutting techniques that are specific and unique to different dishes. Each cutting style is used for different ingredients and for different reasons. You can learn more about them here:
Cleaning the Bones for Tonkotsu Ramen Broth
Watching a little more closely as the bones heat up reveals the answer:
In the early stages, while the water is still too cold to actually start cooking the bones, but while there's still enough to allow the bones to start giving up their goods, you'll notice that the water turns a pale pink from the pigments coming out of them (a combination of hemoglobin—the pigment that colors blood—and myoglobin—the analogous pigment for muscle tissue). Continue to cook, and the color appears to go away, but in reality, it's merely lurking in the shadows, waiting for time, concentration, and oxygen to do their work, transforming them into deep brown pigments.
The only way to get rid of them? Wash those bones, and wash'em well.
The best way to do this is to cover the bones with cold water and bring the whole pot to a boil, allowing the blood vessels and muscle fibers to tighten up and begin squeazing out their unwanted contents (this stuff, by the way, is what you are skimming away when making a French stock). As soon as the water comes to a boil, dump the entire contents into the sink.
Isn't that fun? If you're the kind of person who always enjoy squeezing blemishes or popping blisters (I know several folks like this, including both family members and spouses!), the next step will be right up your alley.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: remove every last bit of brown-tinted anything from all the bones. This means blood, bits of organ, dark marrow, anything that's not beige or white needs to be removed. Cold running water and a chopstick help. It's a sort of time-consuming process, but it's a good way to zen out for fifteen minutes and contemplate the meaning life, death, and noodles.
This is what stock made from un-cleaned bones looks like after about 20 minutes on the stovetop:
Once I restarted my stock with completely cleaned bones, I got none of that. Or at least, very little of it. Most of the gunk and scum manifested itself within the first 20 minutes as a few rogue bits of flotsam which were easily skimmed off, as well as a bit of debris that clung to the sides of the Dutch oven—easy to wipe off with a sponge or moist paper towel.
Was it worth it in the end?
Here's the broth I ended up with after 10 hours of cooking:
And here are the two broths side-by-side.
Remember, these two broths are completely identical save for the fact that the broth on the right was made from blanched-then-washed bones, while the broth on the left was made from completely fresh bones. Both were packed with flavor, both were rich, thick, opaque, and gelatinous, but only the washed bones delivered the clean color I was looking for.
Homemade Shoyu Ramen
Making ramen from scratch is pretty darn elaborate. It can be a multiday affair, and if you simply don&rsquot have time for it, it can seem very intimidating. (No, we&rsquore not making our own noodles this time around. I&rsquom taking it easy on you for now.) Our shoyu ramen recipe calls for making four important components: dashi and tare for the soup base, and nitamago and chashu as showstopping toppings. You can certainly eat a decent bowl of noodles without one or two of these players, but man oh man, magic happens when they all come together in one bite. Fear not: Your patience will be rewarded.
Dashi A simple, clear stock usually made with kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (dried fish shavings, aka bonito flakes). Making this takes just minutes because we don&rsquot want to over-extract the intense flavors of these umami-rich ingredients, but if you need an even quicker version, many stores today carry an instant powder variety called Hon Dashi: Just add it to hot broth or water, and you&rsquore good to go. We&rsquore doctoring our version of dashi with chicken broth and dried shiitake mushrooms for even more oomph.
Tare Called the soul of ramen by some, tare is essentially a flavored, concentrated soy sauce. We will be making this once and using it three different ways: as braising liquid for the pork belly, as marinade for the eggs, and as seasoning for the soup.
Nitamago Marinated soft-boiled egg. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than an egg done well. In this case, the eggs are soft-boiled, peeled, and left to chill in our tare marinade overnight, for 6 to 12 hours.
Chashu Braised pork belly, aka a little slice of heaven for my nonkosher friends. Seared then cooked gently and slowly in our tare mix, it might quite possibly be the most melt-in-your-mouth pork experience you&rsquoll ever have. Pork belly with skin on is the best cut to use, but if you can&rsquot find that at your local butcher, pork shoulder will do just fine.
La-yu I lied! There are actually five components! But this one is a bonus for my garlic-loving spice heads and it&rsquos totally optional. Inspired by my favorite ramen condiment, found at Chuko in Brooklyn, this is a take on Japanese chili oil with savory pieces of garlic confit gummies and tiny pops of sesame. Just when you thought it couldn&rsquot get better!
When you want to cook to impress, few dishes can top homemade ramen. This recipe makes enough broth and toppings for 4 servings and keeps well in the fridge for a week, so if you're cooking for one, it's the perfect thing to make on a Sunday and heat up throughout the week.