I have been cooking for years and hosted a cooking podcast called "Kinds of Cooking." I love baking bread and cooking just about anything.
Yes, It's Important
Good ramen requires a few things. Good noodles. Good fixings. And good broth. But the difference between good ramen and great ramen is the broth. You can make do with store-bought noodles, and maybe you only have minimal fixings to add. All of that can be suffered through as long as you make a good broth.
The key is preparation. So many people will just use some bullion or use the packets you get with store-bought noodles. This is the minimum you can do, and to be honest, you might as well skip it. You could add a little soy sauce to that mix and make it slightly better. Or you can take 10 minutes (and that is the minimum time required) and make a solid broth that can make even your store-bought noodles taste good.
To make this easy, solid broth start with a medium saucepan, and add some olive oil and minced garlic. Heat until fragrant. Add water, your store noodle flavor packet, and some soy sauce. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce to a simmer. Serve with your cooked store-bought noodles, and you're and decent flavor experience!
And this is just the beginning. I am not writing this blog to tell you about just a solid recipe for broth; I am going to get to my main method shortly. But for those who are time-strapped. See the full recipe below.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 4 cups water
- 1 ramen soup seasoning
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- Add oil and garlic to a medium saucepan.
- Heat until fragrant.
- Add water, soy sauce, and seasoning to the saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Add to cooked pasta and serve.
Now for the Real Recipe
I have been working on my ramen broth for about two years. I started with the simple recipe above. It was great at first. A step above anything I used to make for myself. But when I would have ramen at a restaurant, it was clear that I was missing something. So I started to experiment. I always started with the easy recipe and then began adding things in different quantities and seeing how they tasted. I had many successes accompanied by failures, but all of them kept progressing me to a point where I was confident in my ability to create a delicious broth.
We are going to start in a similar way to the easy recipe, but we will take it to a higher level. Oil and garlic are a good start, but if you really want to bring some depth to your broth, finely grate some fresh ginger and add all of that to a medium saucepan and heat until fragrant.
Toss Those Seasoning Packets in the Trash!
Once you've got your fragrant oil mixture, it's time to start adding. But toss that seasoning packet in the trash. If you want really great broth, you need to start with a good base. I make my own chicken and beef broth, and that's how we are going to start. I make it pretty concentrated, so when I generally will add about a quart of chicken broth and then dilute it with another quart of water (with more water added as the broth cooks).
For this recipe, I use just a few basic ingredients, soy sauce, black bean garlic paste, and Korean chili sauce. While you could just add the soy sauce and be done with it. The other ingredients are going to add additional depth and flavor. I personally like a hot and spicy broth, so I will always add something similar to the chili paste or throw in some crushed red pepper.
Once you add all your items to the saucepan, you are going to pump up the heat and bring it to a rolling boil. As soon as you get to this point, lower the temp to medium-low. You want to be just above a simmer but not a full boil. Now you enter the waiting game that I like to refer to as flavor town.
Time Keeps on Ticking...
Once you reach this point, you can call it quits and eat right away, but time is going to make your broth better and better. I will usually keep my broth going for about 2 hours. For me this seems to be a good range for a flavorful and fully developed broth. I have done longer, and I have done shorter.
I have heard stories of people starting broth the night before and simmering it for 10 hours. I have never done this, but maybe someday.
If you are simmering for long periods of time, make sure you watch the liquid level and add water as needed. If you let the broth reduce too much, you might get an overpowering flavor instead of your desired one. Just keep tasting and make sure everything is how you want it to be. If you think something is missing, decide what it is and add. When I tasted this broth, I actually ended up tossing some sugar in because it was missing the slight sweetness that I wanted.
The key is to experiment and find what you like.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 quarts chicken stock
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs Korean chili sauce
- 1 tbs black bean garlic paste
- pinch sugar
- Add oil, garlic, and ginger to a saucepan and heat until fragrant.
- Add all other ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.
- Reduce heat so the broth is just above a simmer. You can serve now if you want. If you chose to simmer for longer periods, taste frequently and add water when needed to maintain a good balance of flavor.
- Once ready, serve over your cooked noodles and fixings!
The Key Is to Experiment
If you like this recipe, know that this is still basic. I personally like adding all sorts of things to my ramen. Red pepper flakes, red chili bean paste, sometimes sesame oil, sometimes teriyaki sauce, and don't tell anyone this, but almost always Worcestershire sauce (I didn't have any this time around, so I left it out). Find out what flavors you enjoy and make it your own.
I am not big on doing things only the traditional way, so it opens up a lot of avenues for experimenting with different flavors, and it always changes the ramen experience (hopefully for the better!).
Do you make ramen broth a different way? Do you prefer something more traditional or more extreme? Tell me about it in the comments. I love to try new things and would love to hear from everyone about what they enjoy! To me, ramen is like pizza, you can put just about anything in it, and it will turn out good as long as you are starting with a good base!
© 2018 Justin Richards