I Finally Tried Ramen For A Week And This Is What Happened
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavoured with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork (叉焼, chāshū), nori (dried seaweed), menma, and scallions.
Nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of Ramen, such as the tonkatsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu and the miso ramen of Hokkaido. Mazemen is a ramen dish that is not served in a soup, but rather with a sauce (such as tare).
Also Read: Related Dishes of Ramen and tonkotsu
The word ramen is a Japanese transcription of the Chinese lamian (拉麵). In 1910, the first ramen shop named Rairaiken [ja] (来々軒) opened at Asakusa, Tokyo, where the Japanese owner employed 12 Cantonese cooks from Yokohama's Chinatown and served the ramen arranged for Japanese customers.
Until the 1950s, ramen was called shina soba (支那そば, literally "Chinese soba"). Today chūka soba (中華そば, also meaning "Chinese soba") or just ramen (ラーメン) are more common, as the word "支那" (shina, meaning "China") has acquired a pejorative connotation.
Origin and Birth of Ramen
Ramen is a Japanese adaptation of Chinese wheat noodles. One theory says that ramen was introduced to Japan during the 1660s by the Chinese neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Shunsui who served as an advisor to Tokugawa Mitsukuni after he became a refugee in Japan to escape Manchu rule and Mitsukuni became the first Japanese person to eat ramen, although most historians reject this theory as a myth created by the Japanese to embellish the origins of ramen.
The more plausible theory is that ramen was introduced by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th or early 20th century at Yokohama Chinatown. According to the record of the Yokohama Ramen Museum, ramen originated in China and made its way to Japan in 1859.
Early versions were wheat noodles in broth topped with Chinese-style roast pork. By 1900, restaurants serving Chinese cuisine from Canton and Shanghai offered a simple dish of noodles (cut rather than hand-pulled), a few toppings, and a broth flavoured with salt and pork bones.
Many Chinese living in Japan also pulled portable food stalls, selling ramen and gyōza dumplings to workers. By the mid-1900s, these stalls used a type of a musical horn called a charumera (チャルメラ, from the Portuguese charamela) to advertise their presence, a practice some vendors still retain via a loudspeaker and a looped recording.
By the early Shōwa period, ramen had become a popular dish when eating out. According to ramen expert Hiroshi Osaki, the first specialized ramen shop opened in Yokohama in 1910.
Types of RAMEN in Modern Era
A wide variety of ramen exists in Japan, with geographical and vendor-specific differences even in varieties that share the same name. Ramen can be broadly categorized by its two main ingredients: noodles and broth.
Needles ( Ramen Noodles ) ["Top Ramen Noodles" in India]
Most noodles are made from four basic ingredients:
- wheat flour,
- and kansui (かん水) (from kansui (鹼水, alkaline water))
What is Kansui?
Kansui is a type of alkaline mineral water, containing sodium carbonate and usually potassium carbonate, as well as sometimes a small amount of phosphoric acid.
The kansui is the distinguishing ingredient in ramen noodles and originated in Inner Mongolia, where some lakes contain large amounts of these minerals and whose water is said to be perfect for making these noodles. Making noodles with kansui lends them a yellowish hue as well as a firm texture.
Although ramen noodles and Udon noodles are both made with wheat, they are different kinds of noodles.
Eggs may also be substituted for kansui. Some noodles are made with neither eggs nor kansui and should only be used for yakisoba, as they have a weaker structure and are more prone to soaking up moisture and becoming extremely soft when served in soup.
Ramen comes in various shapes and lengths. It may be thick, thin, or even ribbon-like, as well as straight or wrinkled. Traditionally, ramen noodles were made by hand, but with growing popularity, many ramen restaurants prefer to have the in-house capacity to produce fresh noodles to meet the increased demand and improve quality.
Automatic ramen-making machines imitating manual production methods have been available since the mid. 20th century produced by such Japanese manufacturers as Yamato MFG. and others.
Soup: Ramen in tonkotsu soup
Ramen soup is generally made from stock based on chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as
- pork bones,
- katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes),
- niboshi (dried baby sardines),
- beef bones,
- and kombu (kelp).
Some modern ramen broths can also be vegetable-based.
Tare is often added to the broth to make the soup.
(豚骨, "pork bone"; not to be confused with tonkatsu) soup is a broth with a typically translucent white coloured appearance.
Tonkotsu is similar to the Chinese baitang (白湯) and has a thick broth made from boiling pork bones, fat, and collagen over high heat for many hours, which suffuses the broth with a hearty pork flavour and a creamy consistency that rivals milk, melted butter or gravy (depending on the shop). Although Tonkotsu is merely a kind of broth, some people consider tonkatsu ramen (speciality of Kyushu, its birthplace) a distinct flavour category.
Toppings and Garnish for Ramen
After basic preparation, ramen can be seasoned and flavoured with any number of toppings, including but not limited to: Chāshū (sliced barbecued or braised pork)
- Negi (green onion)
- Takana-zuke (Pickled and seasoned mustard leaves)
- Seasoned (usually salted) boiled egg (Soy egg ("Ajitsuke Tamago"))
- Bean or other sprouts
- Menma (lactate-fermented bamboo shoots)
- Kakuni (braised pork cubes or squares)
- kikurage (wood ear mushroom)
- Nori (dried seaweed)
- Kamaboko (formed fish paste, often in a pink and white spiral called narutomaki)
- Umeboshi (pickled plum)
- Wakame (a type of seaweed)
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Other types of vegetables