The many faces of ramen - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

The many faces of ramen

Updated: Jun 19, 2014 03:47 PM
© Todd Coleman / Bonnier © Todd Coleman / Bonnier

By



As a Japanese fast food phenomenon, a budget meal solution, a hangover cure, and — especially recently — an upscale menu item, ramen has proven to be an infinitely variable dish. This comes as no surprise, though, because, as Masahiro Nakano, a director of Japan's Shinyokohama Ramen Museum, once explained, ramen has a long history of transformation.

Chicken recipes at Saveur»

When Chinese immigrants first introduced ramen to the Japanese 160 years ago, it was generally hated; before long, however, cooks all over Japan adapted the dish: adding seafood to the stock, introducing soy sauce as a flavoring, and modifying the shape of the noodles to suit their palates. Today ramen has more than 80 distinct regional varieties within Japan alone, where it holds the distinction of being the official national dish. 

16 easy casseroles at Saveur»

More than half of a century after ramen became a hit in Japan, American chefs realized that the dish could be tweaked to suit fine-dining menus and reflect their individual cooking styles. "The best thing about ramen is that it's a great medium for the individual chef to express himself," said Nakano's companion onstage, Serious Eats's J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. He cited the version David Chang serves at Momofuku Noodle Bar: it has all the apparent attributes of tonkotsu, a rich, emulsified broth that derives its flavor from pork bones, but Chang makes it using French techniques to concentrate pork flavor and eliminate fattiness.

The Saveur 100: Recipes and techniques» 

Ramen's adaptability may be unrivaled in international cuisine, but it still has some basic components. The dish's base is a stock broth — either dashi, made from seafood, or the pork-based tonkotsu. Soy sauce, salt, or miso is added to the stock for flavor. Besides the noodles, optional additions like leafy vegetables, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic, and thin slices of pork give a bowl of ramen more substance and tang. 
 
But it's the fresh noodles that are both the most essential element. Available in straight, wavy, and curly forms, slippery or slightly rough, they're also the most variable. There's a reason for the variety of shapes: Nakano advised using curly or wavy noodles to accompany a clean, thin broth because the shape of the noodle holds more broth in each bite. For a thicker, heartier broth like tonkotsu, the broth most commonly available in America, Nakano recommends a straight, slippery noodle. 

While there's no official way to eat a bowl of ramen, the Japanese have developed techniques to eat it as efficiently as possible. "Ramen is a super fast food in Japan," Nakano explained. "After it arrives, you have to eat it in the first five minutes or it's over." To avoid eating soggy noodles, many diners use a slurping method to slide the noodles quickly down their throats. But variations on this method are allowed. As Nakano pointed out: "When making or eating the dish, ramen is like pro-wresting— there are no set rules."



© 2014 SAVEUR
All rights reserved.
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
3514 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Newsroom: (814)454-8812
Toll Free: 1(800)454-8812
Business offices: (814)454-5201
WICU FCC Filing
WSEE FCC Filing
Share:
Share Stories
Submit your stories to our site!
Share Photos
Share your photos in our community galleries
Mobile:
Mobile Site
Be sure to stay constantly updated with the power of WICU12 and WSEE at your fingertips
Free Android App
Free iPhone App
Free iPad App
Storm Tracker App
Droid
iPhone
iPad
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WICU. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
                   WICU/WSEE - 3514 State Street Erie, PA 16508 - (814) 454-5201 - info@wicu12.com