Monday, November 21, 2011

Japanese Ramen Escapades

I've decided, as part of my "What new paths will my blog be taking?" meditations, that I want to share recipes and food on my blog. Now, I'm no gourmet chef or anything, but I love to cook and eat and try new things in the kitchen. But the thing is, I usually create recipes and then never write them down because I know how I made it. Then people ask me for a recipe, and I end up sounding snooty or recipe-hoggy when it's really that I eyeball amounts and do things to my taste.

So, all that to say I think writing down recipes for the blog could be a good way to keep track of my kitchen adventures, and maybe a few of you might enjoy trying them out. I know this has nothing to do with writing, but if you search this blog you'll find I've talked myself into a corner on that subject and it's time to throw a few other things into the mix.

Okay, on to the Ramen. I should have probably gotten more pictures of the process, but I wasn't planning to do this when I made it. Next time! I will get fancy like that.

To many Americans, ramen is looked at as this cheap food only fit for desperate times or college students. When we think ramen, we think blue package with dried noodles and powdered sauce thing. Poor ramen. In its native land this dish is a beautiful bowl of noodles served in all sorts of broths and topped with a variety of ingredients.

Mmm. Ramen. It's served spicy, mild, with pork or egg or both. It can come with onions or bamboo shoots or daikon or bean sprouts. It even comes cold in the hot summer months.

Alas, it's not easy finding Ramen like this where I live in Utah. I can't speak for the rest of America, but I'm willing to bet there are very few ramen houses here in general. And if your local Japanese place does serve ramen, it only comes one way.

So what do you do if you want some real ramen on a cold winter day? Well, in Utah you search out the one decent Asian market in the county, buy the ingredients you need, and make it yourself.

On to the recipe! (And disclaimer: This isn't like the be-all-end-all of how to make ramen. This is just how I made it, and I probably did stuff wrong and I know there are even better ways to make it if you have time to make the stock from scratch. But I liked how this turned out, and it was pretty easy.)

Ingredients (For the ramen at the top of post):

• 3 cups water mixed with 1 1/2 tsp Hondashi (This is a Japanese fish broth stock, basically, and is the key to that distinct flavor you find in Japanese soups like miso, udon, and ramen).
• 3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken or pork, if you like)
• 2-3 tsp minced ginger
• 1-2 cloves minced garlic
• 1/3 cup soy sauce
• 1/3 mirin (or apple juice if you don't do alcohol [mirin is a Japanese cooking liquor])
• 1 tsp chili oil
• 1 tsp sesame seed oil

• Add all ingredients to a fairly large pot and bring to a boil.

• 3 Packs fresh "yakisoba" noodles. (These are about the same as ramen. I couldn't find fresh noodles labeled as ramen around here, but it may be different where you're at.) Wash these noodles under warm water until they are loosened, keep moist until ready to assemble.


• Dried, actual ramen noodles. (Not from a cheap pack at the store, though I suppose you could go that route if you wanted, but dry ramen you'd find at the Asian market. They are straight, not all crinkled.) Cook these noodles for 4-5 minutes in a separate pot of water, drain, keep in cool water until ready to assemble.

• 3-4 green onions, sliced
• 1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed
• 1 cup spinach, rinsed and chopped
• 2 shitake mushrooms, sliced

1. Get a large bowl, put desired amount of noodles in.
2. Ladle broth over noodles until they're covered.
3. Add desired toppings, submerging in broth so they cook.
4. Let rest a few minutes while vegetables get tender.
5. Devour.

Note: If you like more heat, I add a little sriracha to my bowl, but I make it fairly mild so my kids can eat it. You can also add any type of meat you like, but I make it vegetarian because my husband is.

Hope you enjoy it if you try it!


  1. What I want to know is how you convince your kiddos to eat something that's a little exotic. I've only recently convinced my 5 year old boy there's more to chicken than just nuggets.

  2. Bethany, my kids are...weird eaters? My son has NEVER liked meat, and he loves noodles, so I leave out the veggies and he'll eat some. My daughter is very into eating what we eat—she doesn't like kid food. She wants what the grown up are having.

    Also, we've just always eaten like this. I've fed them yakisoba and gyoza and curry since they were toddlers. If they don't like what I make, they are allowed to have a PB&J instead, but I constantly make new things so they don't find them strange.

  3. My kids love ramen, (though I confess to buying the packets of dried ramen for them.)

    As for new/exotic foods, the rule in my house is you have to take 3 bites. If you don't like it then I'll make something else (usually a sandwich) but you have to at least taste it.

  4. Hey Natalie! Thank you so much for this recipe. My sister loves ramen and we only have one Japanese restaurant in town that doesn't serve it. I'm totally gonna surprise her tonight with this! Thanks again.

  5. My daughter is an Otaku -- totally Japanese-obsessed. She might be interested in this....

  6. Thank you for the recipe! My husband loves ramen, but he's allergic to all the brands we've been able to find. I'll have to try this. :)

  7. I've never tried Japanese ramen before, though we do eat a lot of Vietnamese noodles in my house -- but yum! This looks so delicious!

  8. That looks great! (I have to admit, though, my kids have eaten the 10 cent variety from time to time...)

    Great idea and glad you shared it!

  9. Thank you for this. I have a wonderful go-to place for ramen in the city, but live way too far away for more than occasional meals. I've looked around online for good recipes for soba, miso, ramen, anything, and maybe I'm just not using the right keywords but I just keep finding "packet of Mr Noodles" or "packet or instant broth" style answers. NOT what I want.

    This sounds so tasty. I can't wait to get ingredients and try it.

  10. Thank you thank you thank you! I have been trying to figure out how to make this but all my noodle recipes go Italiano on me :)
    (not that there's anything wrong with that...)
    I will have to take this with me to the market so I don't wind up with hoisin sauce instead of fish sauce. :D

  11. YESSS!!! WHen I first came to Japan, and saw what ramen really was... Wow!

    How did the rest of the world end up wth ramen's poor underacheiving cousin?

    I'm glad you've found new stuff to blog. I think the happiest bloggers are those who get to share lots of bits of who they are. Otherwise it's just abother job.

  12. I LOVE the sharing recipes idea. And this is a great start! I'm vegetarian, my husband loves Asian food... I might have to buckle down and make this. He will be thrilled!

  13. Ooh, I'll have to head over to our Asian market and try this out!