What is Ramen, and Is It Healthy or Unhealthy?

What is Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese dish composed of Chinese-style wheat noodles served with a meat or fish broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and topped with ingredients such as sliced pork belly, dried seaweed, chopped green onions, and/or a boiled egg. In many parts of the world, it is considered a comfort food that can be prepared in a variety of ways and with a variety of different ingredients.

Is ramen a noodle or a soup?

The term “ramen” encompasses both noodles and soup because it refers to a complete dish where these two components are inseparable and integral to its identity.

First of all, ramen’s noodles are a key component of the meal. These noodles add a unique feel and flavour to the whole experience; they are typically made from wheat flour, water, salt, and kansui (alkaline mineral water). Ramen’s style and authenticity are mostly determined by the noodles’ qualities and method of cooking.

Second, the soup in ramen is just as important. The dish’s savoury and aromatic base comes from the broth, which is made from a base of beef or fish and seasoned with spices like miso or soy sauce. The essence of the selected ingredients is absorbed by the broth while it is simmering, resulting in a fragrant liquid that envelops and complements the noodles.

Types of Ramen     

Here’s an overview of the four main types of ramen

Shoyu Ramen (Soy Sauce Ramen)

Shoyu ramen is like the OG of ramen – a classic that folks all around the globe love. What makes it stand out? Well, it’s got this clear broth that’s jazzed up with soy sauce, giving it this perfect mix of savory and salty goodness. And the noodles? They’re the Chinese-style wheat kind, just soaking up all that flavorful broth. Now, picture this: a bowl of shoyu ramen topped with slices of pork (that’s chashu), green onions, and some seaweed action. It’s not just a Japanese thing; people everywhere can’t get enough of this tasty combo. Shoyu ramen is like the rockstar of the ramen world, no doubt about it!

Shio Ramen (Salt Ramen)

Shio ramen is all about that clear broth jazzed up with a touch of saltiness. It’s the kind of ramen that lets the natural flavors of the ingredients do a happy dance in your bowl. Picture this: a lighter, more delicate taste that doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds. And hey, when it comes to toppings, think veggies, sliced pork, and a bit of seaweed for that extra oomph. It’s like a clean and simple flavor symphony – perfect for those who dig a more laid-back broth vibe.

Miso Ramen

The unique umami flavour of miso ramen is derived from the fermentation of soybean paste, or miso, which is added to the savoury broth. This type of ramen is frequently identified by its filling and robust taste, with additions like chashu (sliced pork), corn and bean sprouts. One of the things that sets miso ramen apart is how versatile it is, which is why ramen lovers love it. This adaptable and savoury noodle dish is enjoyed by many, and its appeal is further enhanced by regional variants that add more levels of complexity to its flavour profile.

Tonkotsu Ramen

Tonkotsu ramen, which comes from Kyushu, is well-known for its thick, creamy broth, which is made by cooking pork bones for a long time. This method brings out rich, porky flavours and produces a filling soup. Black garlic oil, green onions, and chashu are frequently used as garnishes for tonkotsu ramen, which results in a satisfying and savoury bowl of ramen. Because of its widespread appeal, ramen enthusiasts seek it out as a preferred option.

How to make homemade ramen noodles

homemade ramen noodles

Homemade Ramen Noodle Recipe:


  • 6g baked baking soda
  • 4g Diamond Crystal kosher salt (adjust if using table salt)
  • 160 ml water
  • 396g King Arthur bread flour
  • 4g vital wheat gluten


Prepare the Alkaline Water

  • Add baked baking soda to water and stir until completely dissolved, approximately 1 minute.
  • Add salt to the water, stirring until fully dissolved.

Combine Dry Ingredients:

  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine vital wheat gluten and bread flour.
  • Process or mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to ensure thorough mixing.
  • Incorporate Wet Ingredients:
  • Increase the machine’s speed to medium-low.
  • With the machine running, add 1/3 of the liquid at a time, allowing each addition to be fully absorbed (about 30 seconds) before adding the next.
  • After the final addition, allow the machine to run until the flour and water mixture appears pebbly, approximately 1 minute.
  • If using a food processor, pause for 30 minutes. If using a stand mixer, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. This rest period allows the flour to absorb the liquid more fully.

Divide and Rest:

  • Press the dough into a ball and divide it into two equal portions.
  • Place both portions in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Allow them to rest.

Sheeting and Folding:

  • Take one portion and flatten it to about 1/5 inch thickness. Run the flattened dough through the widest setting of a pasta roller, followed by progressively narrower settings.
  • Fold the dough sheet in half and repeat the process two times, allowing longitudinal lines to form.
  • Wrap the dough sheet and repeat with the remaining portion.
  • Let the dough sheets rest for at least 30 minutes.

Rolling and Cutting:

  • Working with one dough sheet at a time, run it through progressively narrower settings on a pasta machine until it reaches the desired thickness (approximately 1-1.5 mm).
  • Run the final dough sheet through a spaghetti cutting attachment or cut it by hand with a sharp knife.
  • Dust noodles with flour or cornstarch to prevent sticking, shake off excess, and fold into loose nests.


  • Place the noodles in a zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight. While they can be used immediately, allowing them to age slightly enhances texture and flavor.

Optional Step Before Cooking:

  • Gather the noodles into a ball and compress with your palms on a dry surface, similar to compressing a snowball. Loosen the noodles and repeat the process, giving them their signature curls.

To Cook Noodles:

  • Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a rolling boil.
  • If using noodle baskets, add noodles and stir vigorously with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking.
  • If not using baskets, add noodles directly to boiling water, stirring vigorously.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes for hand-cut noodles or 1 minute and 30 seconds for noodles cut with a spaghetti cutter.
  • Drain thoroughly, shaking off excess water, and add to hot ramen broth.

Enjoy your homemade ramen noodles in your favorite broth!

Is ramen healthy or unhealthy?

In general, ramen isn’t promoted as a health food, particularly in Japan where fast-food restaurants even take health value into consideration when creating their menus. It’s critical to understand that every component of a meal, including seemingly harmless ones like water, has a toxicity index. Any food should not be strictly labeled as “unhealthy” unless its consumption actually results in acute health problems.

The effect of ramen’s relative health can vary depending on things including personal exercise levels and the dish’s specific ingredients. The occasional bowl of thick, salty, high-calorie ramen may be beneficial for people who work physically hard and often. However, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, then going with premium noodles in a lower-sodium, lighter broth can be a better option. But even in those cases, moderation is crucial.

Stay away from instant types while making ramen at home. Making your own noodles, adding spices, adding lots of veggies, and selecting leaner cuts of meat can all help create a more balanced bowl. One bowl of ramen a week may not have a major negative effect on a well-balanced diet, especially if other meals are varied in terms of nutrients.

It’s important to highlight moderation and variety because younger people may metabolize less healthful components more quickly than older generations. Despite the allure of ramen, a more balanced approach to eating is possible because of the wider variety of superb Japanese food. Ramen once a week would be a reasonable limit for white-collar workers or others with less physically demanding lifestyles. The secret to a balanced diet is moderation and including a variety of food alternatives, as is the case with many other areas of nutrition.

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