Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ramen Comes to Sanbiki!

                        Miso ramen offers a relatively new spin on a classic ramen recipe

Some of the most popular foods in Japan originated abroad. Ramen is a classic example, it's culinary roots stretching across the sea to China. To call ramen "noodles in soup" does not do it justice. Ramen noodles come in different sizes and consistencies and may be served in a soup derived from meat, seafood or both. The mouth-watering morsels floating in your bowl may be from the farm, the field or the sea. As always in Japan, it depends who is serving you ramen; and where.

            Big bowls; small shops. Some of the tastiest noodles may be found in
                                       Japan's side streets and food stalls 

Ramen noodles are a mix of flour, water, salt and something called. "kansui". An alkaline water, kansui gives the noodles some of their yellow colour. Eggs are sometimes used as well. Ramen may be thick or thin, crinkly or straight....

                                                         Fresh ramen noodles

Ramen may be served in a meat or seafood based soup. "Tonkotsu ramen" is served in a pork based soup that is is rich and milky white. It is also known as "shiro" (white) ramen. Shiro ramen recipes typically come from southern Japan. The noodles are quite thin and chewy.

                        Tonkotsu "Hakata ramen" was made famous in the south

Tokyo style ramen is served in a clear soup usually made from dashi (Japanese fish stock), chicken and soy sauce. It can be garnished with fish cakes, sliced pork, boiled egg, bamboo shoots etc. It is sometimes called "Shoyu Ramen"; "shoyu" means soy sauce.

                       "Shoyu ramen" originated in Tokyo but is popular everywhere

"Butter corn ramen" is a famous export from Hokkaido in Japan's far north. It is a comparitively rich and hearty ramen recipe; perfect comfort food in the area's cold climate.

                             Butter corn ramen usually has miso added to the soup
Ramen restaurants can be found all over the world. Many Japanese chain ramen shops specialize in one particular ramen style or regional recipe. "Santouka" is famous for Hokkaido-style ramen. "Ippudo" established itself first in Kyushu, and their ramen recipes reflects their southern roots. Both now have hundreds of outlets all over the world.

                          Santouka Ramen shops have opened in Vancouver and Toronto

Countless variations of ramen are out there! But the menu below shows some perennial bestsellers. Often diners can add their own garnishes and extras to order. Boiled eggs, extra "cha-shu" (sliced pork belly) and so on. For a surcharge, some establishments will provide a refill of noodles (kaedama) for extra hungry guests with leftover soup.

              Most ramen restaurants keep their menus simple. Ramen and a few sides

Other chains have developed outside Japan and are successful catering to the tastes of non-Japanese customers. "Wagamama" started in the UK offering Asian noodles, curries, salads and side dishes. It is hugely popular and has guests sitting at communal "long tables". The ramen, and the menu in general, is not traditional but has been adapted to suit British tastes and diets.

                  A London Wagamama features communal seating and an open kitchen

Diehard ramen fans make the pilgrimmage to Yokohama Ramen Museum in Tokyo. Old Tokyo has been recreated to offer visitors the opportunity to sample ramen recipes from across the country. All the best ramen bowls are offered up at a massive indoor food court.

                          Ramen stalls recreated inside the Yokokama Ramen Museum

Film fans may have seen Tampopo, Juzo Itami's excellent "Japanese noodle western". Two truck drivers stop for lunch at a struggling ramen restaurant. The food is so terrible that they end up staying to help the single mom who owns the business. Enlisting the help of a retired "ramen master" and stealing some of their competitors secrets help them turn the business around...

                             Itami's "Tampopo" is a must see for fans of food and films

Sanbiki now offer ramen on our menu. Next door at Mori Mori instant and frozen ramen are bestsellers. Instant ramen may be simple, starving student food in some circles. Visit the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, Japan and you may be overwhelmed by the displays...

                                     The "instant ramen wall" at the museum in Osaka

If you haven't yet, be sure and try out Sanbiki's ramen! We're experimenting with new recipes and will have special introductory prices.Feeling lazy? Quick and dirty just-add-water instant bowls and lots of frozen options are on sale next door at Mori Mori....Have a great week!