East Series/ Food/ Main Dishes/ Soups + Stews

Spicy Shoyu Ramen

I wanted to kick this series off with ramen because a) it’s something most folks are familiar with and b) I’m kind of obsessed with it. Honest to blog, I can’t control myself around big bowls of ramen with their silky soft-boiled eggs, playful narutomaki and crisp fresh veggies.

In David Chang’s book Momofuku, he admits that, despite his love for ramen, the sanctimony surrounding it is a bit much. The movie Tampopo did a fabulous job at boosting ramen’s profile and creating some major glamour around it but, at the end of the day,  “…it’s soup with noodles in it, topped with stuff.”

Chang is right, but shit. It’s delectable soup with outstanding noodles topped with swoon-worthy stuff. That’s my version.

Growing up as a North American white kid in an extremely beige town, ramen was nothing more than an instant soup and, when feeling creative, a brilliant addition to a bum stir-fry. But as much as we love to jest about our favorite cash-strapped hangover noodles, it was the invention of these instant noodles in 1958 by Momofuku Ando that introduced the world to ramen and shot it up to stardom. By the 80s, every single ramen shop in Japan had it’s own unique twist — much like how different parts of the Southern US have their distinctive barbecue styles and how certain major cities have their own ways with pizza. And though ramen is now dubbed a Japanese dish, it originated in China with lo mein being its forerunner.

fresh-ramen-collage-4

It pains me to admit this, but the first time I indulged in a true bowl of ramen from an actual Japanese restaurant was just last year, in 2015, when I moved to Raleigh, NC. Prior to that, living back at home in Canada, I was too engrossed by my pho obsession to drive out of my hometown in search of a legit ramen joint. Luckily I’m surrounded by options here in Raleigh. I only have to drive for about 10 minutes for an opportunity to slurp away at ramen, pho, kake soba — you name it. I don’t mean to gloat but… it’s kind of the best.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, there’s also a Korean market nearby where I can grab anything I need to make all of this good stuff from scratch in the comfort of my own kitchen. There is something super satisfying about going into an Asian market, exploring new ingredients, learning about a different culture and supporting a family-run business all in the process. Seriously — if you’re cooking food from another culture, any other culture, forgo the “International” aisle at your local supermarket. There are so many families who moved here with nothing and opened up markets to establish themselves and have a better life. These are the people you want to support; these markets will offer you the real deal when it comes to knowledge and ingredients. These people appreciate your business.

shoyu-ramen-2

The Broth | Dashi

Despite the fact that ramen is incredibly flavorsome, the broth is simple and calls for minimal ingredients. Some variations are made with bones while others are made with dashi — a consommé. I’m going to focus on dashi in this series since it’s pescetarian-friendly and can be vegetarian friendly.

Dashi is made with kombu (kelp), katsuobushi/bonito flakes (dried + smoked flaked skipjack tuna), iriko or niboshi (sardines), or a combination of all or two of them. With a good dashi, you really don’t need much seasoning in your dish; the dashi gives you a nice layer of umami to build upon.

When making ramen or soba noodle soups, my go-to stock is an awase dashi, which is a combination of kombu + katsuobushi. This is a great base for a pescetarian, but if you’re vegetarian, stick with a simple kombu dashi or shiitake dashi.

You can buy an already prepared dashi if making it from scratch doesn’t interest you — but I’d highly recommend whipping up your own sometime. It’s super easy, and homemade is always better.

Garnishes

It’s the appearance of the ramen bowl that reels people in. Soup just seems like soup until you deck your bowl out with a perfectly soft-boiled egg, fried tofu, enoki mushrooms, scallions, bok choy, bamboo shoots, cuts of meat, narutomaki… the list goes on. And it isn’t *just* the bright and vivid colors of the swoon-worthy toppings that draw us in; it’s also the visual of something that is substantial and nourishing. When I look at a big gorgeous bowl of ramen, I know my hunger will be sated; I know it will make my belly happy and it will warm the cockles of my heart.

When planning for your ramen bowl, be creative and adorn the dish with whatever you want. There are few rules here, if any. My go-to is the soft-boiled egg, shredded carrot, narutomaki, a generous helping of sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Sometimes I add to that with varying mushrooms, etc., but that is generally my “perfect bowl” —  plus a dollop of sambal oelek for extra heat.

enoki-mushrooms

shoyu-ramen-6

Spicy Shoyu Ramen

I wanted to share a Spicy Shoyu Ramen recipe with y’all simply because it’s my favest of the faves. It’s also the oldest variation of the five most common variations (Shio, Miso, Tonkotsu + Curry) so, I guess we can consider it a pioneer of sorts. Shoyu ramen has a clear broth, albeit dark, and is most commonly based on a vegetable or chicken stock. The addition of soy sauce brings us to this salty, tangy and savory broth. The addition of chili bean paste gives it an awesome sinus-clearing kick that is perfect for a chilly day and an amazing way to kick a cold. (Seriously, move over chicken soup.)

THIS RECIPE IS PART OF MY EAST SERIES. 

In this series, I’ll be covering dishes from Japan, China and Korea to cover East Asia, followed by dishes from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia to cover Southeast Asia.

Making this recipe? Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram: @Killing__Thyme /#killingthyme. For more delish eats, follow me on INSTAGRAM + PINTEREST.

 

Spicy Shoyu Ramen

This swoon-worthy Spicy Shoyu Ramen is super easy to make in the comfort of your own home! This is the first installment in my East series.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Killing Thyme

Ingredients

Noodles:

  • ¾ lb fresh ramen noodles or 2 packages of instant ramen

Soup:

  • 1 tbsp . sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp . freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp . spicy chili bean paste with chili la doubanjiang
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups dashi stock see bottom of post for links to my recommended homemade dashi stocks
  • 2.5 tbsp . Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 0.5 tbsp . sake
  • 1.5 tsp . kosher salt
  • 1 tsp . sugar

Garnishes (optional + not measured as you can add as much or as little as you'd like):

  • 1 to 2 soft boiled eggs for each bowl
  • Shredded carrots
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Sliced narutomaki fish cakes
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Fried tofu
  • Sesame seeds

Special Equipment:

  • Cheesecloth or sieve

Instructions

Garnishes:

  1. Prep your garnishes in advance. Fresh ramen noodles cook quickly, in less than 2-3 minutes, so you want everything prepared prior to cooking the noodles.

Soup:

  1. Heat sesame oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot that can carry at least 4 cups of water.
  2. Add the minced garlic and ginger. Sauté until fragrant, approx. 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the spicy chili bean paste and stir.
  4. Add the remaining soup ingredients and allow to simmer for five minutes.
  5. Do a taste test and adjust spice level to your liking. The broth should be a slightly salty with a nice kick to it.
  6. Over a large bowl or pot, strain the soup through cheese cloth to rid of garlic and ginger chunks. Transfer the soup back into the original stock pot.
  7. Keep the soup on a low simmer until you are ready to serve.

Noodles:

  1. If using fresh ramen, loosen the noodles up a bit before putting them into boiling water.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package, BUT please note that it's best to slightly reduce the cooking time on the package by approx. 30 seconds (the hot broth will continue to cook the noodles a bit once poured into the bowl to serve).
  3. Drain the noodles completely and transfer to a serving bowl.
  4. Pour the soup in the bowl and garnish with your preferred toppings.
  5. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

*Adapted from http://www.justonecookbook.com/spicy-shoyu-ramen/

Make your own dashi…

Resources

  • JustOneCookbook.com — It’s safe to say that 90 per cent of what I’ve learned in Japanese cooking has come from Nami and her amazing blog. Nami, if you read this, thank you.
  • Momofuku by David Chang + Peter Meehan
Spicy Shoyu Ramen | Killing Thyme

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    January 6, 2018 at 9:40 pm This is the first recipe I think I’ve seen that doesn’t make homemade ramen sound like an intimidating, unreachable quest. I’m excited to make dashi andget started! What other easy proteins would you suggest to top? I only eat eggs scrambled, so that’s out.
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      January 7, 2018 at 11:44 am Hey Jennifer! I'm so glad this recipe is approachable. I think you'll have a lot of fun making this on your own. For other proteins, you can add shrimp (look for sustainable + wild if you can), salmon, tofu, and if you eat other meat you can add chicken, pork, or beef. It's pretty flexible! Let me know how it goes :)
  • Reply
    Easy Homemade Ramen Bowls | Killing Thyme
    January 3, 2018 at 9:05 pm […] hints of fish. You can certainly go that route and create dashi from scratch, then turn it into a Shoyu Ramen or a Kake Soba With Hon Tsuyu […]
  • Reply
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    April 24, 2017 at 12:09 am Awww thank you, I just read your little note on the blog post! Sorry I'm late here, but I just checked all of your Japan series - thank you for showcasing my country's cuisine! You've done such a beautiful job! You have beautiful photography throughout the blog too. Wishing you lots of success! xoxo
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      April 25, 2017 at 2:54 pm Nami! What a fun surprise to have you here — thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. It was a pleasure to showcase some of Japan's cuisine, and I learned oh-so-much thanks to you and your resourceful blog. Honestly, JustOneCookbook is hands-down my go-to for Japanese cooking; I always check there first when I need to know something. Again, thank you for taking the time to comment, and thank you for the wonderful work that you do! xo
  • Reply
    Homemade Vegetable Broth - Killing Thyme
    March 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm […] some soup inspo? Try this broth in this swoon-worthy Spicy Shoyu Ramen or this comforting Creamy Dill and Spinach Chickpea […]
  • Reply
    Ochazuke - Killing Thyme
    March 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm […] *is* another variation of Ochazuke that replaces green tea with dashi stock, but between the Spicy Shoyu Ramen and the Okonomiyaki in this series, we’ve seen dashi aplenty. I wanted to honor the […]
  • Reply
    Miso Ramen - Killing Thyme
    March 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm […] the first installment of this series, I gave you some serious ramen envy with my Spicy Shoyu Ramen. The response on that post across social media was fab, and I may have enticed a ramen fanatic or […]
  • Reply
    Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
    November 17, 2016 at 5:19 am I've never made my own ramen but this is making me think I need to! Beautiful dish!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 18, 2016 at 2:12 pm Thanks, Mardi! I highly recommend it. There is something really satisfying about building your own ramen bowl. Let me know if you give it a whirl :)
  • Reply
    Hilary
    November 16, 2016 at 8:44 pm love love love. So much love right here!! I love your passion, enthusiasm, and knowledge about a dish we oogle over. I can't wait to try making my own dashi!
  • Reply
    annika
    November 16, 2016 at 1:11 pm Love this post! A delicious dish, very clear instructions and impeccable photography! Excellent!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 18, 2016 at 2:11 pm Thanks so much, Annika! I'm really glad that everything came across in a clear cut manner. Hopefully people can benefit from it!
  • Reply
    Alexandra | Occasionally Eggs
    November 16, 2016 at 12:32 pm This is so beautiful and colourful! I haven't found any decent Asian restaurants here (I need to generalize bc there seriously aren't any) and this post has so much in depth information on making this at home. Thank you!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 18, 2016 at 2:10 pm Thanks, Alexandra! It's a total bummer that you don't have any good Asian restaurants where you are. Someone needs to get on that — stat! But hey, now you can just make your own. I'm really happy that you found this post useful! You're very welcome!
  • Reply
    Sean
    November 13, 2016 at 4:06 pm AWESOME. I mean, the recipe is awesome, the detail is amazing, the info and background are great (they really get you into the idea without completely going down the whole 'history of ramen' tunnel). Your recipe looks like a keeper. Thanks so much for linking back to Diversivore for a bunch of the ingredients too! I hope recipes like this will get more people excited about venturing beyond the 'ethnic aisle' at the grocery store and into shops where they can find amazing, authentic ingredients.
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 14, 2016 at 10:54 am Thanks, Sean! I appreciate the accolades. This post was *so* wordy at one point. I really had to cut a bunch out, and I'm really glad that I did. (Seriously. It was long AF.) I wanted to keep it interesting but also keep it light so that people stuck around. Hopefully people find a happy balance here and come back throughout the series. And I agree. My fingers are crossed that people will venture out into other markets - whether they be Asian or Eastern European or whatever culture they want to learn about - and get to know the real deal. The idea that someone might start cooking up a Japanese dish with "VH Soya Sauce" makes me cringe.
  • Reply
    Teresa
    November 13, 2016 at 3:57 am It's been fun sampling my way through the explosion of Ramen restaurants in Vancouver, but this recipe makes me want to try it at home. It looks gorgeous!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 14, 2016 at 10:39 am Hey Teresa, I hope you do! Let me know :)
  • Reply
    Marie-Pierre
    November 12, 2016 at 12:25 pm You are so right, Ramen evolution for a north American changed quite a bite, I agree... I'm a big Ramen fan too, not the ones from the 80's but present! I'll try you recipe out! and looking forward for you next Asian meal! The plating is sublime by the way!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 12, 2016 at 1:46 pm Thanks, Marie-Pierre! Definitely let me know what you think about the recipe once you try it. I hope you love it. It's so satisfying to make it from scratch and it's great to get to know new ingredients. I'm so glad you're into this!
  • Reply
    Samantha | My Kitchen Love
    November 12, 2016 at 11:49 am I LOVE ramen and this looks so good Dana! I like how even specified the type of soy sauce. I love using dashi, but have found I need to be very careful with it. I was heavy handed once and it completely ruined the meal. I'm so looking forward to series and where we're headed next. Complete yums all over the place.
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm Thanks, Sam! Oh yeah, I'm a Kikkoman gal through and through. Those VH soy sauces just won't work. That was the soy sauce I knew growing up, so when I started eating sushi in my 20s and discovered Kikkoman, my mind was blown. I'm really tickled that you're excited about this series! I'll be making my next dish tomorrow, so I'm hoping to have it posted next week :)
  • Reply
    Nicoletta @sugarlovespices
    November 12, 2016 at 11:40 am This ramen is stunning, Dana! You created the perfect bowl here, with all the flavors that I like and would love to recreate at home. Well, maybe I'll ask Loreto, I'm not as good with soups as he is. You're right about supporting local family-run businesses; Loreto and I we love the little Asian markets, I look like a kid in a candy store ;-) . P.s. I'm excited for your East series!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 12, 2016 at 1:38 pm Thanks, Nicoletta! I hope y'all get around to making it and I hope you love it. Definitely let me know. I'm glad you're excited about the series! I wasn't sure if it would be of much interest to my readership, so I was struggling between that notion and the fact that I'm so passionate about East + Southeast Asian cuisine. Obviously my passion won. Haha. So if people are interested and excited, bonus!
  • Reply
    Charlotte
    November 12, 2016 at 11:10 am This sounds amazing. Thanks for breaking down ramen to make it approachable for people like me who don't have much experience with asian cuisine!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      November 14, 2016 at 10:48 am Thanks, Charlotte! I'm *really* glad to know this post has made it more approachable. That's really why I wanted to launch this series. I know there are a lot of people out there who truly don't want to cook and would much rather eat at restaurants or take-out, and that's fine. BUT. For those few who are still eager to learn and make things from scratch, delving into a favorite cuisine from another culture is so awesome and *really* rewarding. I hope you find this series useful and hey, if you get to making something from it or similar, let me know!

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