But what you don't know is that ramen is more complex than that. A whole lot more complicated than that.
Ramen comes from the words ra which means “pulled into” and men which means “noodles”. So taking it in a literal way, the noodles are made by stretching a single lump of dough and folding it repeatedly to produce a bunch of thin noodles. The noodles are made from wheat flour and kansui (which is an alkaline solution). Kansui is responsible for that unique bounce and yellow color in the noodles since it doesn’t contain any egg.
If you think ramen is healthy because it's soup, think again. What gives ramen most of its flavor and health hazards isn't its toppings but its broth. There are four primary flavors of ramen broth: shio, shoyu, tonkotsu and miso. (x)
Now, the toppings! Toppings are still necessary for they add the other nutritional values needed in a meal and of course, more flavor. Below are just some of the traditional toppings of ramen. If I were to include all of them, a ramen chef would probably be finished with the entire process of making ramen.
Super-tender pork that was braised in soy sauce and mirin
Gives onion-y flavor and freshness to the ramen
Fermented bamboo shoots that are nutty and sweet
Dried seaweed used in sushi
Eggs braised in soy sauce and mirin while still having a soft yolk
- Pick up some noodles and hold them in your spoon. Don't let them dangle in the air.
- Forget what your mom said about etiquette. The Japanese way is to slurp them noodles.
- Go taste some broth. Enjoy the chef's hard work after slaving over a stove for who knows how long.
- Taste the toppings one by one. You don't have to shove a whole piece of chashu into your mouth. One bite at a time.
- You will find it much easier if you ate the egg with a spoon.
- If you're a purist, finish the bowl in 6 to 10 minutes.
Honestly, I’d buy Cup Noodles, add some real meat and egg, and my day would be made. Play me some New Girl season 2 too.
- Anna Cayco and Daniela Regis
(click photos for sources)