Tips for making a great bowl of ramen at home

Ramen is a Japanese noodle dish. What exactly goes into a bowl of ramen is something that differs from region to region and from cook to cook so there are endless varieties of ramen. The broth can be brown and transparent (the soy-flavored shoyu ramen), clear and colorless (shio ramen which is seasoned with salt) or light brown and cloudy (when miso is added). The meat and vegetables can be anything that are available and there are simply endless combinations. That’s why ramen is known as a very versatile budget meal — you can make a delicious bowl of ramen with bits and pieces of meat, seafood and vegetables.

Today’s lunch is an illustration of the versatility of the ramen. Sam wanted ramen with crab balls, I am allergic to crabs, Speedy likes meat with his noodle soup… so, I prepared a basic broth with vegetables which I served with bowls of different toppings — meat, fried tofu, shiitake mushrooms and crab balls.

With just four kinds of toppings, you can already make several possible combinations. Shiitake and tofu. Meat and shiitake. Meat, tofu and shiitake. Crab balls and shiitake. Crab balls, tofu and shiitake… You get the idea.

So, next time you’re craving for a good bowl of ramen, remember that you can easily prepare it at home. Here are some tips:

1. Make sure that you have a good broth for the soup. You can use meat broth, fish stock, dashi or ponzu sauce. Or, if you like miso, make a basic miso soup.

2. Don’t feel limited if you don’t have those ingredients with hard-to-pronounce Japanese names. Ramen is just a bowl of noodle soup and anything can go into it — sliced cooked meat or poultry, chunks of fish, day-old tempura, hard-boiled eggs, raw eggs, fish balls, prawn balls…

3. While seaweed is a traditional ingredient for most varieties of ramen, any green vegetable will do just as well. Any of the many varieties of cabbage, spinach, bok choy and scallions are just a few examples.

Not so hard to make great ramen at home, right? I hope you make some soon and enjoy it as much as we did with our ramen lunch today.

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