This is an Easy Japanese Ramen Noodles recipe using store bought soup and noodles, but the toppings are homemade. With a little bit of effort to make good toppings, you can enjoy great ramen almost like the ones you order at restaurants.
When I posted Yakibuta (Braised Pork), I said that I would post ramen when the hot summer in the northern hemisphere is over. Well, the hot weather is probably not over yet but I was so eager to post a ramen recipe that I decided to post it today. September is the first month of autumn in the northern hemisphere, so I hope hot weather is slightly easing.
You can make ramen in many ways at home. The easiest method is to buy a packet of ramen in a paper cup/bowl that comes with dried noodles and soup stock powder. Simply add hot water to the cup and wait for a few minutes. These are called cup ramen.
The next easiest is to buy a packet of ramen that comes with dried noodles and soup stock powder in a sachet. You cook the noodles in a pot and add the soup stock powder at the end.
These are collectively called instant ramen. I tried these in the past but I did not like them very much because the taste and texture of the noodles were far from the ramen you get at the ramen shops.
Since I love ramen and eat it quite regularly, I had to find a quick recipe to make ramen close to those from the shops. I tried many different methods, including making ramen soup from scratch, but settled with the method I explain below.
In short, I use fresh egg noodles, a sachet of store-bought condensed ramen soup stock, and homemade toppings.
I usually buy Chinese thin egg noodles from an Asian grocery store. They are pretty cheap and cook very fast – about 30 seconds to 1 minute. One pack of fresh egg noodles serves 4-5 people so if you are not serving many people, you will have leftovers. But they keep a while in the fridge.
You can also buy dried ramen noodles from Asian/Japanese grocery stores. Being dried noodles, you can keep them in the pantry for a long time but they take longer to cook – about 5-7 minutes.
Here are the sample noodles I use – fresh noodles from Asian grocery stores (top photo) and dried noodles from Japanese grocery stores (bottom photo).
You can buy cooked egg noodles but I find that they tend to become too soft, not al dente. Hokkein noodles and Chow Mein noodles are not suited for ramen.
The best thing about my easy ramen is using the sachet of condensed ramen soup stock. Unlike instant noodles, the condensed ramen soup stock is pretty close to the real ramen soup flavour. One sachet makes one serve.
The sachets come in different flavours, i.e. soy sauce flavour, miso flavour, salt flavour, tonkatsu (pork bone) flavour. Each sachet usually contains concentrated ramen soup liquid in it with a bit of fat. There are different brands and one of them even has different ingredients in two compartments.
Simply dilute the concentrated stock with boiling water in a serving bowl and add cooked noodles to it. The instructions of most sachet say “add 300ml (10.1oz) of boiling water” but I find that it is way too salty and I usually add 400-500ml (13.5 – 16.9oz).
Note: You don’t need to use scissors to open the sachet. It can cut anywhere on one side of the sachet, usually the long side where there are Japanese writings (which says you can cut anywhere from this side). If the sachet is not designed this way, there should be a slit on the side from which you can open the sachet (see the arrows on top left sachet).
PS: I should note that since this post, I posted a recipe for home-made Rame broth. If you’d rather make you own, here is the link: Home-made Ramen Broth Recipe.
My Favourite Ramen Toppings
I eat ramen often so I need to vary the toppings every now and then to make it more interesting. I have three favourites:
Standard ramen: ramen in any flavour of soup with standard ramen toppings, i.e. yakibuta (braised pork) slices, boiled egg, chopped shallots (scallions) and a sheet of nori (roasted seaweed).
Tanmen: Ramen in either soy sauce flavoured soup or salt flavoured soup with stir fried meat and vegetables (similar to Happosai (Combination Stir Fry)) as toppings.
Moyashi ramen: Ramen in either soy sauce flavoured soup or miso flavoured soup with pork and bean sprouts stir fried as toppings.
The variations of toppings are limitless but the common vegetables used in toppings are bean sprouts, shallots (scallions), cabbage, wakame seaweed, English spinach, corn kernels, Chinese cabbage, buck choy, carrot, roasted seaweed, and preserved bamboo shoots.
I listed type of soup stocks to go with different toppings but they are my choices. You can mix and match to your liking.
COORDINATION AND TIMING IS THE KEY
Cooking noodles and making ramen soup are simple things to do. But they have to be ready at the same time as the toppings so that all the components of ramen are hot when put together. This is easier said than done, especially with stir fry toppings.
I use two cook tops when making tanmen or moyashi ramen – one for cooking noodles and one for stir frying, and an electric kettle to boil water for the ramen soup.
The recipe below makes just one serve of ramen, but using this method you can make ramen for several people at once. The only limitation is the amount of water you can boil for the ramen soup and the quantity of noodles and toppings you can cook at once.
Ramen is served with a chilli oil called rayu (辣油orラー油) and pepper. But every ramen shop has its secret soup stock and it is said that adding spices before tasting the soup is an insult to the chef because you do not appreciate flavour of the original soup. So, please sip the soup first before adding these spices.
I hope you try ramen using this simple method and see how it compares with the ramen at the shops.
Easy Japanese Ramen Noodles recipe uses store bought soup and noodles, but the toppings are homemade. With a little bit of effort to make good toppings, you can enjoy great ramen almost like the ones you order at restaurants.
The recipe explains how to make ramen with 3 different toppings.
- 1 sachet of ramen soup (note 1)
- 80-100 g (2.8-3.5oz) fresh thin egg noodles (note 2)
- 2 slices of thinly sliced yakibuta (braised pork) (note 3)
- 1 boiled egg halved (note 4)
- 2 tbsp chopped shallots (scallions)
- 10 cm x 10cm (4" x 4") nori (roasted seaweed sheet)
- 70 g (2.5oz) thinly sliced pork
- 1 shiitake mushroom, thinly sliced
- 30 g (1.1oz) carrot halved vertically then diagonally sliced thinly
- 2 cups of cabbage chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 4-5 small buck choy leaves (or 2-3 large leaves cut in half)
- 1 shallot (scallions) cut into 5cm (2”) pieces
- 20 g (0.9oz) garlic chives cut into 5cm (2”) pieces
- 1 tsp oil
- Happosai sauce ingredients per Happosai (Combination Stir Fry) recipe (1 person worth)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 100 g (3.5oz) pork thinly sliced into bite size pieces
- 200 g (7oz) beansprouts
- 30 g (1.1) garlic chives
- 1 tsp Chinese style chicken stock powder (note 6)
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- 1½ tsp chilli bean sauce
- ½ tbsp corn flour (corn starch) diluted in 1 tbsp water
- Rayu (chilli oil)
- Ground pepper
Open the ramen soup sachet (note 7) and squeeze the contents out into a serving bowl.
Boil about 600ml (20oz) water in a kettle.
Boil water in a small to medium pot to cook noodles. If noodles are stack together, untangle as much as possible then add to the boiling water.
Using chopsticks or a fork, untangle the noodles to separate individual strands. If water starts bubbling and reaching to the rim of the pot, reduce the heat to medium high to medium so that the water is still boiling rapidly but does not overflow.
Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and drain (note 8).
Add 400-500ml (13.5 – 16.9oz) of boiling water (note 9) from the kettle to the serving bowl with the condensed soup, then transfer the noodles into the bowl. Tidy up the noodles to submerge in the soup.
Place topping of your choice and serve immediately with chilli oil and ground pepper if you are using.
Make sure that the yakibuta and boiled egg are at room temperature. If direct from the fridge, warm up for 15 seconds or so in the microwave.
Place yakibuta slices and egg gently on the surface of the ramen, add the challots, then slide the nori diagonally along the inside wall of the bowl.
Start cooking when the pot of water for the noodles is placed on the cooktop to heat.
Follow the instructions in the Happosai (Combination Stir Fry) recipe using the ingredients listed above.
If topping is cooked before noodles are ready, turn off the heat and reheat when noodles are ready.
Pour the topping over the noodles in the serving bowl.
Start cooking when the small bubbles in the pot of water for the noodles start appearing.
Heat sesame oil in a wok or a frypan over high heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir fry for 15 seconds.
Add meat and cook for about a minute until the meat is almost cooked through.
Add bean sprouts and garlic chives, stir for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add chicken stock powder, soy sauce, chilli bean paste and stir well so that the flavours mix evenly.
Add cornflour/corn starch with water and mix quickly to evenly thicken the topping.
Pour over the noodles in the bowl.
1. You can buy a sachet of condensed ramen soup stock at Japanese grocery stores. Any brand, any flavour is OK. Please see the sample photos in the blog.
2. My preference is fresh thin egg noodles but you could buy dried egg noodles if you wish. Hokkein noodles and Chow Mein noodles are not suited for this.
3. Please refer to my Yakibuta (Braised Pork) recipe. I often freeze sliced yakibuta when made and use them for ramen later.
Alternatively, you could buy char siu (Chinese barbequed pork) from a Chinese shop but the taste of pork slices will be quite different as char siu is very sweet.
4. I like the egg yolk to be slightly runny but it is up to you. I also marinate boiled eggs after making yakibuta so that the outside of the eggs have brown colour and soy sauce flavour. I touched on making marinated eggs in my post, Yakibuta (Braised Pork).
5. The meat and vegetables for tanmen can vary and you don’t need to have so many different kinds of vegetables. I sometimes make toppings with only vegetables or instead of using meat, I use tofu puffs.
6. You can buy a tin of Chinese style chicken stock powder at Asian grocery stores. Please see the photo of the stock powder in my blog, Happosai (Combination Stir Fry).
7. You don’t need to use scissors to open the sachet. It can cut anywhere on one side of the sachet, usually the long side where there are Japanese writings (which says you can cut anywhere from this side). If the sachet is not designed this way, there should be a slit on the side from which you can open the sachet.
8. If timing of cooking noodles and stir frying is difficult, try to finish cooking noodles last. Nothing is worse than having soggy noodles by leaving them in the sieves waiting to be placed in the soup, or sitting in the soup waiting for the toppings.
To cook them al dente, my fresh thin egg noodles takes just 30 seconds after the water starts boiling again. Depending on the thickness of the noodles and brands, it might take longer.
If you are using dried noodles, it will take much longer to cook. Please follow the instructions on the package. Don't forget that the noodles are continued to be cooked in hot ramen soup so don't over cook in the boiling water.
9. The instruction on the sachet probably tells you to add 300ml (10.1oz) of boiling water but I find that it is too salty. Adjust the amount of boiling water to your liking.
10. PS: I should note that since this post, I posted a recipe for home-made Rame broth. If you'd rather make you own, here is the link: Home-made Ramen Broth Recipe.