Ramen has humble roots. But today's it’s recognized as a dynamic, artisan dish that’s constantly evolving.
While ramen has certainly come a long way, the process of how to make ramen has not drastically changed. Here's a simple breakdown of how to make ramen - the technical side!
Seasoning goes into an empty ramen bowl first and serves as the ramen's foundation. The amount is only about a shot glass or two. Soy sauce is commonly used. But ramen seasoning can have sea salt, miso, shrimp powder, chili flakes, extracted oils from simmered onions and ginger, aroma oils - the list goes on and on.
The soup is prepared in a big pot and is poured directly on top of the seasoning. There should be enough soup to make the broth in the ramen bowl rise above the halfway mark. The soup can include vegetables like konbu (kelp), shiitake mushrooms, garlic, negi (scallions), and ginger and these are cooked with richer ingredients like pork or chicken bones, or niboshi (dried fish).
The main ingredients in ramen noodles are soft wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui. Kansui is the big keyword. It's an alkaline mineral water that gives ramen noodles their strength and springiness. Ramen noodles come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the ramen shop or the style of ramen. In terms of thickness, the noodles are usually anywhere from 1 to 3 mm. They can also be wavy or straight, flat or round.
Soft and with amazingly runny yolk, eggs are one of the most popular ramen toppings today. Eggs are placed in boiling hot water for 6-7 min, then cooled down immediately in an ice bath and peeled. After this, they're marinated in a combination soy sauce, sake, sugar, scallions, ginger, and sometimes other ingredients. During marination, they're normally covered and stored in a fridge for 2+ hours.
Another massively popular topping, chashu pork is essentially braised pork belly. In a pot, pork belly should be cooked in soy sauce, sake, sugar, water, garlic, and ginger until there's almost no more of this cooking liquid left.
Narutomaki is processed (cured) fish. It’s white with a distinctive pink spiral that's inspired by the Naruto whirlpools in Shikoku. You usually see narutomaki (aka kamboko) in more traditional ramen.
Menma are fermented bamboo shoots. Similar to when you're preparing the egg or chashu pork, you need ingredients like soy sauce, sake, and sugar for your cooking liquid. After rinsing and removing any excess salt, menma should be boiled in this liquid and left to absorb the flavors in the fridge.
Both both the green and white part of negi (scallions) are used as thinly sliced garnish. Negi are milder and sweeter than your average onion.
It depends on where you are in the country, but ramen toppings can greatly differ! In miso ramen, they stir-fry vegetables like bean sprouts, or even add butter and corn. In tonkotsu ramen, they'll use kikurage (wood ear mushrooms) or benishouga (red ginger).
There you have it - how to make ramen in a nutshell.
Check out the video below to see master chef Emoto prepare his signature niboshi ramen, step by step.