When thinking of Japan, what dish first comes to your mind?
Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum and Japan Times surveyed more than 600 people from 44 countries, and the survey results showed that Ramen was chosen as the most loved Japanese food.
As you know, there are many different types of ramen, which can be categorized by the flavors — Shoyu, Shio, Miso, Tonkotsu, and so on. While the broth serves as the “soul” of the ramen, noodles are said to be the backbone.
Starting with the making of the ramen noodles, every step and type used is carefully calculated and thought through to make up the perfect bowl of ramen.
What makes ramen noodles different from the others is its ingredients. Besides flour and water, ramen noodles also use kansui (鹹水), or alkaline solution (usually sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate). The use of kansui makes ramen noodles the way it is — yellow, chewy and formed its distinct ramen noodle flavor.
Other than that, the types used must also be depending on the type of broth.
Ramen noodles can be categorized into 3 types: thin, thick, and wavy.
Due to its thinness, it doesn’t take long to cook and absorbs the broth faster. But the nature of it also makes it soggy easily, so the noodles are usually cooked firmly. Because it has a higher surface area to volume ratio, the soup can seep through and cover the noodles better; If paired with rich broth, the taste of it may overwhelm the noodles, so this kind of noodles matches best with a light and mild broth.
Thick noodles are chewy and dense. They also absorb the broth well, which makes it a perfect match with a creamier and savory broth. Therefore, tsukemen, or dipping ramen, are usually paired with thick noodles. If you’re looking to enjoy the taste of the broth and the texture of the noodles at the same time, this would be the way to go.
Wavy noodles would form their waviness when they’re cooked. Its low surface area to volume ratio allows it to absorb the broth and coat the noodles evenly. While both thick and wavy noodles absorb the broth easily, it’s recommended to choose wavy noodles over the thick ones when paired with extremely rich broths.
The making of a bowl of ramen noodles is not as seemingly easy as one would think. Next time you eat ramen, take the time and taste the noodles. Let us know what you think!