Ramen is now one of the most popular foods in the whole wide world. The United States of America, Great Britain, Canada and Europe have embraced this brilliant food. It’s origin in Japan dates back the 1950s when the word Ramen was first used but the dish itself went back a long time before them with some saying its origins lie in China. Some disagree and say it was first made in Japan in the early 20th century. Its name before then was Shina Soba which translates literally to ‘Chinese Noodles’. The variations are endless when it comes to Ramen and many regions have their own take on the popular dish. It can be adapted to any diet. But there are four main and popular variations that many of us will know.
cover photo credit:Roland Tanglao
Shio, pronounced ‘She-Yo’, is possibly the most common flavor style of Ramen soup and it basically means ‘salt’. It is especially found in the west. There is a salty flavor to this type of ramen noodle soup. This kind of ramen noodle soup tends to be rather light colored and opaque so you’ll be able to see the bottom of your bowl in most cases and see everything that is in your brilliant dish. The noodles in a Shio ramen tend to be straight rather than curly, also.
Shoyu, pronounced ‘Show-you’, is what most people in the world would think is the most common or popular type of ramen as opposed to the Shio kind. Shoyu simply means Soy Sauce. This kind of ramen noodle soup is made with soy sauce and often these soy sauces are different from eatery to eatery to make their ramen soup something worth talking about. Shoyu tends to be darker in color to Shio but still with some clarity. Both Shio and Shoyu are the oldest flavor types of ramen noodle soup but Shoyu most often doesn’t contain pork in the broth itself whereas Shio often does.
Miso, pronounced ‘Me-So’, is in no way as old as Shio or Shoyu but it has become something of a staple in the culture of Japanese ramen noodle soups. Miso is a fermented bean paste that packs a real big savory or umami flavor punch. This paste is blended often with a hearty chicken broth to make your basic Miso ramen soup. The toppings are vast and can vary depending on the traditions of the eatery or family that is making it. This was first introduced in the Hokkaido region of northern Japan. Also in Hokkaido around the same time as the Miso ramen soup was made prominent was a curry ramen. Curry ramen is your basic pork and vegetable broth that is then flavored with curry. This is specific to this region and doesn’t find its way much to the south of Japan.
Tonkotsu, pronounced ‘Tong-Coats-Zoo’, is another pork broth but not as simple as boiling pork for an hour and making simple pork ramen. Tonkotsu means literally pig bones. They make this special type of ramen soup by boiling pork bones for up to 15 hours. This creates an effect in the broth that turns the insides of the bones into a thick jelly like broth. This makes for a rich white looking soup that is very decadent.
Along with these main flavor types of Japanese ramen noodles there are also many different variations of the noodle itself. There’s the best high-end restaurants who make their noodles and every single element of their dishes from scratch and make some of the most beautiful dishes you will have ever seen. Then there are the ones you can make with already prepared noodles from a supermarket then create your own ramen yourself. Some eateries do this also. There is also instant ramen available to most of the world. These noodles are huge in places like America. They cook in less than 3 minutes usually with a flavor sachet or sachets. These really aren’t traditional in Japan but they are starting to become more and more of a modern day cooks dream because they can be also edited to create an awesome dish by adding your own flavors to the soup and your own vegetables and/or meats to it rather than having just the instant ramen on its own.
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