What? Ramen is a noodle-in-broth dish, typically associated with student-type food in America because it’s cheap and quick to prepare. But no more! Globally, chefs are jazzing up the dish with broths in a variety of different flavours, fresh ingredients, authentically created noodles and interesting flavour profiles. The dish is thought to have originated in China before spreading to Japan, and most credit restaurateur David Chang for introducing the high-end noodle bar concept to America.
Why? Because it’s delicious, comforting and an easy base for chefs to add their own creative flair.
Get creative: Ramen basics dictate that it should have noodles, a broth, and it should be packed full of flavour. Change the flavour of the broth to complement the protein you use, and add different vegetables and condiments. Build-your-own Ramen bars take this dish a step further – the restaurant creates a base broth and patrons add their own noodles, veggies, proteins and condiments. The dish can also be adapted to a brunch dish with thick-cut bacon and a soft boiled egg.
Where can I try it? Downtown Ramen in Cape Town – simply presenting just two options (tofu and pork belly), the noodles sit in a flavour-packed broth together with the protein, egg, chilli, sesame seeds and spring onions.
Must-know Ramen Terms:
Tonkotsu: Ramen with broth made from pork bones.
Shoyu: Made with lots of soy sauce for an umami hit.
Shio: Made with salt and a combination of chicken, vegetables, fish or seaweed.
Miso: Uses miso paste to create a thicker, slightly sweet soup
It’s all about that Broth
A new trend hit the streets of New York this winter – instead of grabbing a hot cup of coffee or tea, hip New Yorkers are lining up to get a cup of broth. The broth is low in sodium and high in collagen, with many health benefits being touted such as shinier hair and stronger nails. The broth is made from boiling down grass-fed animal bones and meat to create nutrient-rich stocks, and patrons can customise their beverage with add-ins such as chilli oil, mushroom tea or bone marrow. It’s warming and healthy, tapping into the trend of going back to basics and using artisanal methods and sustainable ingredients.