Miso ramen

What does it takes to make great ramen?

Abdul Halim Ahmad
Published in
4 min readMay 19, 2024


Ramen, one of the delicacies from Japan, rich noodle soup with tasty broth

Creating great ramen is a multifaceted process that involves careful attention to detail at every step. From the choice of ingredients to the cooking techniques, each element plays a crucial role in crafting the perfect bowl. Here’s an extensive guide to making exceptional ramen.
Ramen, a Japanese dish that has taken the world by storm, is more than just a meal; it is a culinary art form. This guide will delve deep into the intricacies of making great ramen, exploring the history, types, ingredients, and techniques involved. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to create a bowl of ramen that stands out.

1. The History and Evolution of Ramen

Ramen has a rich history that dates back to Chinese immigrants bringing their noodle soup to Japan. Over time, it evolved uniquely in Japan, with regional variations developing based on local ingredients and tastes. Understanding this evolution helps appreciate the diverse styles and flavors of ramen today.

2. Types of Ramen

Ramen can be broadly categorized based on the flavor of the broth and the region of origin. The four main types are:
- Shoyu (Soy Sauce) Ramen: Originating from Tokyo, this type features a clear, brown broth seasoned with soy sauce.
- Miso Ramen: Hailing from Hokkaido, it has a rich, savory, and slightly creamy broth flavored with fermented soybean paste.
- Shio (Salt) Ramen: Known for its clear and light broth, it is often the saltiest of the ramen types.
- Tonkotsu (Pork Bone) Ramen: Originating from Kyushu, this variety has a thick, cloudy, and creamy broth made by boiling pork bones for hours.

Each type has its own unique characteristics and requires different techniques to perfect.

3. The Components of Ramen
A great bowl of ramen consists of several key components, each requiring attention to detail:

The heart of any ramen dish, the broth, can be made using various bases:
- Pork Bones (Tonkotsu): Boiled for hours to extract collagen and marrow, creating a rich, creamy broth.
- Chicken Bones (Tori Paitan): Similar to tonkotsu but lighter, using chicken bones for a slightly less fatty broth.
- Fish (Gyokai): Dried fish, bonito flakes, and seaweed can create a deeply umami broth.
- Vegetarian: Kombu (kelp), dried mushrooms, and vegetables can form a flavorful base for those avoiding meat.

The broth must be carefully balanced to ensure depth and complexity without overwhelming the palate.

Tare is the seasoning sauce added to the broth, determining its final flavor profile. Common tares include:
- Shoyu: Soy sauce-based, adding a salty, umami-rich flavor.
- Miso: Fermented soybean paste, giving a robust and slightly tangy taste.
- Shio: Salt-based, often combined with other seasonings like dried seafood or kelp.

The noodles are as important as the broth, with different styles suiting different types of ramen:
- Straight Noodles: Typically used in tonkotsu ramen, these have a firm texture that holds up well in rich broths.
- Curly Noodles: Common in miso and shoyu ramen, their curly shape helps trap the broth.
- Thick or Thin Noodles: The thickness affects texture and how the noodles interact with the broth.

Noodles should be cooked just right to maintain their texture and not become mushy when sitting in hot broth.

Toppings add layers of flavor, texture, and visual appeal. Common toppings include:
- Chashu (Braised Pork): Slow-cooked pork belly that’s tender and flavorful.
- Ajitsuke Tamago (Marinated Soft-Boiled Egg): Eggs with a runny yolk and a savory marinade.
- Menma (Bamboo Shoots): Fermented bamboo shoots that add a crunchy texture.
- Nori (Seaweed): Adds umami and visual contrast.
- Green Onions, Bean Sprouts, and Corn: Fresh vegetables that provide crunch and balance.

4. Techniques for Making Ramen

Making the Broth
Creating a rich, flavorful broth is a labor-intensive process that requires patience:
- Preparation: Clean the bones to remove impurities. This can involve blanching and rinsing them.
- Simmering: Boil the bones at a low temperature for several hours to extract maximum flavor without making the broth cloudy.
- Straining: Remove solids to create a smooth, clean broth.
- Flavoring: Add tare and other seasonings to achieve the desired taste.

Cooking the Noodles
Noodles should be cooked just before serving:
- Boiling: Use plenty of water and cook until al dente.
- Shocking: Some chefs recommend shocking noodles in cold water briefly to stop the cooking process before adding them to the hot broth.

Preparing Toppings
Each topping requires its own preparation:
- Chashu: Marinate pork belly in soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar, then slow-cook until tender.
- Ajitsuke Tamago: Soft-boil eggs and marinate them in a soy-based mixture.
- Menma: Simmer bamboo shoots in a soy sauce, sake, and mirin mixture until they absorb the flavors.

5. Assembly and Presentation

The final step in making great ramen is assembly. Presentation matters, as it enhances the dining experience:

Layering: Place noodles first, followed by broth, and then arrange toppings artfully on top.

Garnishing: Add final touches like nori, green onions, and sesame seeds to complete the dish.

6. Special Tips and Tricks

To elevate your ramen-making skills:
Umami Boosters: Use ingredients like dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, and bonito flakes to enhance the umami flavor.

Oil Layer: Adding flavored oils (like garlic or chili oil) can add depth and aroma.

Experimentation: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and techniques to find your signature ramen style.

Making great ramen is a journey that involves mastering each component and technique. From selecting the right ingredients to perfecting the broth and noodles, every step is crucial. With patience and practice, you can create a bowl of ramen that is both delicious and memorable.



Abdul Halim Ahmad

Food writer | Research & Development | Chef Consultant | Food culture enthusiast | Professional chef