As one of the most popular types of Japanese dishes, it’s no surprise ramen has exploded all over the Australian food scene. The more popular it becomes, the more variations that are hitting out menus.
But what is ramen? Is it good for you? What type of ramen is good for a beginner?
Get ready to become a ramen eating pro you dive into the answer of all these questions and more, revealing:
- Where ramen comes from.
- Common ingredients in ramen.
- The nutritional value of the average bowl.
- How to eat ramen properly.
Everything You Want to Know About Ramen & More
What is ramen?
Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish with a rich and flavoursome broth. Much like the infamous Aussie debate over who invented the pavlova or lamington, the origins of ramen are often debated.
While it is widely accepted that the Japanese dish we know today originated from a similar dish in China, it is unclear how it first reached Japan and why it was first served. Several theories include the dish being brought over by Chinese immigrants, or that it was served to and made popular by an emperor.
Today, this dish is one of the most popular choices for Japanese locals and travellers alike, mainly due to being not only delicious but also inexpensive and widely available. Ramen can now be found across many Japanese and fusion restaurants worldwide with a variety of styles, flavours and ingredients used.
Making a bowl of ramen is considered to be an artform, with each element carefully prepared and constructed.
Similar dishes have also evolved from this, such as tsukemen, which is a dish where cooked noodles are dipped into a hot broth, or hiyashi chuka, which is a cold variation.
In supermarkets, you can easily find instant ramen, which has become synonymous with cheap and easy meals. However, nothing quite matches the chewy noodles or the intense and complex flavours of a bowl found at an authentic ramen shop.
What is in ramen?
The base of every ramen dish is the noodles and broth. However, you will find that the additional ingredients such as protein and garnishes are just as important to the flavour profile.
Here are the common flavours and ingredients you can find on most menus:
There are a variety of Japanese noodles which can be found in ramen, each with a slightly different texture or taste. Many restaurants will make their own noodles in-house, which if this is an option, be sure to do it. The most popular types of noodles used include:
Ramen: A ramen noodle is long, thin and made from wheat, and are the most commonly used type of noodle in this dish.
Soba: Made of buckwheat, soba noodles are popular in both hot and cold dishes. Even better, they are gluten-free!
Udon: Udon noodles are a thicker noodle made from flour and are a pale, almost white colour in comparison to other types.
The protein added to ramen is what helps transform it from a simple broth into a delicious meal. You’ll normally find find the following options on the menu:
- Sliced chicken breast.
- Thinly sliced pork belly.
- Tofu for vegetarian and vegan ramen options.
Perfect for slurping, the hot broth served in ramen gives the dish most of its flavour. The base ingredients used to create the broth will result in different end results.
Out of all the ramen broths available, these have been dubbed the favourites:
Tonkotsu: Not to be confused with tonkatsu, a breaded pork dish, tonkotsu is a rich, creamy pork bone-based broth.
Miso: Made from fermented soybean paste, miso adds a salty flavour to any broth.
Shoyu: A soy sauce based broth that is often a light brown clear colour.
Shio: This is a slightly saltier broth, typically made from chicken or fish bones.
Vegan: Several varieties of vegan ramen can be found, such as mushroom or vegetable-based broth.
Garnishes are what take ramen to the next level. If there is something you don’t like, simply ask for it to be left off. Or, if there is a flavour you love, ask to double or triple the serve.
Some of the most popular garnishes include:
- Boiled eggs.
- Green onions.
- Bean sprouts.
- Sesame seeds.
- Nori, also known as seaweed. This is often finely shredded.
- Kamaboko, a cured seafood cake usually made from fish.
How many calories are in ramen?
The average amount of calories, as well as other nutritional values, in a bowl of ramen will depend on the type. However, expect a ramen served at a restaurant to come in at around 800 calories.
Again, the calories in ramen depends on the type of noodles, both, proteins and other garnishes used. For example, a lower-calorie ramen with a clear broth will be lower at around 600 to 700 calories, but will typically be higher in sodium.
How do you eat ramen?
You may be surprised to learn that, despite being such a popular dish, many of us are eating ramen wrong. Follow these simple tips below and you’ll be eating like a local.
- Sample your broth using the flat-bottomed spoon provided to taste the broth. Drinking from the bowl is considered to be fine!
- Pick up your noodles with chopsticks and quickly suck it up, ensuring you get some broth with it. Slurping allows you to quickly get noodles and broth into your mouth, and cools it down a little too.
- Eat your protein and garnishes separately.
- Make sure you have your ramen while it’s still hot or the noodles will expand after soaking up the broth.