"The soup is essentially the soul of the ramen."
This is a widely agreed upon "fact" of ramen enthusiasts.
But why is the soup so important?
Do you know how much time and effort goes into preparing ramen broth?
Let's take a look behind the scenes today...
Usually, ramen soup consists of 3 components:
Broth (dashi) + Sauce (tare) + Seasoning Oil (koumiyu)
Let's take a look at what each component is.
What is "Dashi"?
A lot of ramen restaurants starts preparing the broth at least two days before it is used.
In Japan, some chefs will close down their store for the day if they aren't 100% satisfied with the flavor of their broth.
This is because the soup is a very important element of the dish and will alter the overall taste of the ramen. (They are so serious about their art, right?)
Broth is made up of water and a combination of pork bone, beef bone, chicken, bonito, konbu (kelp), mushroom, or scallops.
You boil the ingredients for many hours to get the flavors to transfer into the soup. The ingredients itself, however, are not used and are thrown away in the end.
The broth is the building block of ramen soup stock as it has the most important element of "umami."
What is "Tare"?
The purpose of tare is to give the soup its salty taste. There are many types of tare - soy sauce tare, salt tare, and miso tare.
Soy sauce tare is in a liquid form, miso tare is a paste, and salt tare is a powder.
Chefs choose tare based on the broth they are making.
For example, if the broth is a light one, you pick salt tare to match the plain and simple style of the broth.
If the broth is thick, you use miso tare in order to create a thick and creamy soup base.
What is "Koumiyu"?
Seasoning oil gives ramen its flavor.
In addition, using koumiyu keeps the ramen hot because it covers the surface of the soup, trapping the heat inside.
Some types of koumiyu include chicken oil, pork fatback, and bonito.
You must be thinking “How can I make ramen broth from scratch?” or "Is it even possible to make ramen soup at home?"
The answer is YES!
Let me share a ramen broth recipe with you.
This should be the first recipe you learn when making ramen soup from scratch because it is a standard and widely-used recipe in Japanese ramen restaurants and proven to be popular amongst diners.
The key point to this recipe is combining different types of umami taste together: Inosinic acid + Glutamic acid + Guanosine Monophosphate
Mix a combination of these together:
Inosinic acid - pork and/or bonito
Glutamic acid - chicken bone and/or konbu.
Guanosine monophosphate - shitake mushrooms
The umami flavour gets bolder and exponentially stronger when you combine them together versus using only one type of umami.
How to make “Dashi” (broth)
Ingredients (3 Ramen Bowl Servings)
Ginger 1 small piece
Garlic 2 cloves
Green onion 1
bonito 1 handful
Pork bone (shin-bone and thigh-bone) 17oz (or 500 ml)
Bone of whole chicken
Chicken wings 4 pieces
1. In a large pot, boil pork bones and chicken bones together. The bones need to be boiled in water before they are used in the soup in order to thoroughly clean them from any residual smell. They should be boiled until the bones change into a lighter colour, which should take about 1 minute or less.
2. Wash the bones thoroughly with cold water in order to get rid of any residue still remaining. If not cleaned thoroughly, the soup will not be transparent and umami flavour cannot come out
3. Make cracks in the pork bone using a hammer, without breaking it off into small pieces. This step ensures that the umami flavour from inside the pork bone can be transferred into the soup.
Making the Soup
1. Put pork bone, onion, green onion, garlic, and ginger into a pot of water.
2. Using high heat, mix them and get rid of the foam that floats to the top.
3. Put the chicken bone and wings into the pot.
4. Close the lid.
5. After the water boils, open the lid and get rid of the foam again.
6. Boil the contents in the pot for one hour using medium heat.
7. Put bonito in and boil it for another two hours using medium heat.
8. Get rid of all the contents in the pot, except the liquid and your broth is done!
Some key points to remember:
Refrain from getting rid of the foam many times as they will break into small pieces and make taking them out of the pot more difficult. This will cause your broth to become cloudy.
Great! You now have the recipe for an amazing ramen base, so now, how do we kick your ramen game up a notch?
Let’s look at how to make shoyu ramen sauce (tare) and seasoning oil (koumiyu) today!
How to make “Tare” (sauce)
Tare gives ramen its saltiness. In the past, ramen chefs used to use chashu marinade as tare. Nowadays, chefs make their own separate variations of tare, which is unique to their own restaurant.
Popular tare types are soy sauce tare, miso tare, and salt tare.
This time, we will be looking at soy sauce tare.
Ingredients (for 3 ramen bowls):
Chicken skin: 3.5oz (100g)
Soy sauce: 1.7oz (50ml)
Water: 1.7oz (50ml)
Sake: 1 tbsp (or 15ml)
1. Place chicken skin onto a frying pan (The umami flavour for this sauce comes from chicken skin)
2. Cook chicken skin using low heat
3. After the skin gets crispy, pour in sake, soy sauce and water.
4. After boiling, turn off the heat and put the lid on.
5. Wait until the sauce gets cold before using (Cooling down the sauce makes the soy sauce taste milder)
How to make “Koumiyu” (seasoning oil)
The appetizing flavour in a ramen bowl comes from this flavoured seasoning oil. If there is no koumiyu, ramen soup becomes bland and the taste becomes flat.
Ingredients (for 3 ramen bowls):
Bonito Flakes: 1 tbsp
Lard (or olive oil) : 5 tbsp
1. Heat up the bonito in a pan in order to get its flavor. You’ll know it’s ready once you can smell the fragrant flavour of the bonito. Be careful not to burn the bonito flakes as they are thin and can burn easily.
2. Combine lard/oil with your heated bonito.
3. Heat up the pan using low to medium heat for 3 minutes.
4. Cool the pan down.
Try these recipes out along with the dashi recipe above to make your OWN ramen broth that is restaurant-grade!
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