Ramen has made a comeback.
Growing up in the U.S. instant ramen noodles were a popular snack after school. Dehydrated ramen (wheat) noodles that fluff up and deliver flavour with the simple addition of boiling water … mmm … nothing like putting a school kid into a carb coma hours before dinner. I almost forgot about ramen until it had a recent rebirth and London embraced it with open arms – as it does with all cuisines. (London, have I told you lately that I love you?)
Ramen is something of a national dish in Japan – a noodle soup that’s hearty, full of flavour and seriously satisfying. There are a few main types of ramen and what’s fascinating is every region of Japan has their own variation. There’s tonkotsu (pork based broth), shōyu (soy based broth), miso (miso based broth) and shio (salt based broth).
My preference so far is tonkotsu. The broth is simmered over a long period of time – we’re talking days – with pork bones and fat, giving it a rich flavour and a cloudy appearance. Noodles are added, which should be homemade (cooked in an alkaline mineral water) and firm to the bite. Then dried seaweed, a marinated soft boiled egg, bamboo shoots, soy sauce or miso and surimi (a type of cured/processed fish cake). Sliced pork belly is layered on the top.
When you eat ramen, grab a bib. Seriously. The shit goes everywhere. But that’s partly what makes it so great and fun to eat – and it’s also how the Japanese eat it. So hunch over, get all up in there and enjoy it! Slurping loudly indicates you’re a pro (yes, really). So be loud about it and do everything your mother told you not to do at the dinner table. And feel free to moan. You won’t have a choice.
Indulge in ramen at: