The Facts About Instant Ramen
Instant ramen is a well-known type of food that many people around the world enjoy – some on a daily basis, and some whenever the mood for a fast, readily available meal strikes. The origins of instant ramen are both fascinating and inspiring, and many people are glad to have the product of such a brilliant idea come to fruition. You can read more about how instant ramen came to be in our article, “The History of Instant Ramen,” or continue reading these equally interesting facts about instant ramen that you might not have known before.
Either way, let’s get right into it!
Who Eats Instant Ramen?
The obvious answer here is “Everyone eats instant ramen!” judging by the fact that over 100 billion servings of instant ramen are eaten almost every year around the world. In this article, we’re looking more specifically at which countries eat more or less instant ramen when compared to others. While many people assume that the birthplace of instant ramen would have the largest consumption of the food product, the title of Instant Ramen Eating Champion is actually held by China.
Based on studies from previous years, there are as many as 270 million servings of ramen eaten every single day, and the majority of those servings are being consumed in China and Hong Kong. Now, you have to realize that this number comes from the total amount eaten in the country, and thus doesn’t necessarily reflect how much each individual consumes per year.
When looking at the per capita consumption amount, or the amount of ramen eaten by the average citizen, Korea is the reigning champion. The average person will enjoy almost 75 servings of ramen per year. Instant noodles are so popular that nearly every restaurant offers the dish and there are numerous stalls set up that cater specifically to those looking for a quick way to get their instant ramen fix.
The average worldwide per capita consumption per year is about 14 servings of delicious instant noodles. The top five countries who consume the most instant ramen are China, Indonesia, Japan, India, and Vietnam, while the top three per capita consumption countries are Korea, Vietnam, and Nepal. The United States just barely misses out on being the in the top five, as they consume just over four million servings of instant ramen annually. Other honorary mentions in the top 15 countries that consume instant ramen are Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Different Instant Ramen Cultures
Along with the amount of instant ramen being eaten, countries have waged culinary wars over the right and wrong ways to enjoy instant ramen. Many countries have the own unique take on the best way to enjoy instant ramen, proving that there are endless possibilities for the delicious tastes and flavors of instant ramen.
In European countries, Asian flavors of ramen are quite popular. Though the choice of favored flavors might seem a bit pedestrian, their preferred methods of integrating instant ramen into their meals are not. In Russia, it’s common to eat instant ramen, preferably chicken flavored, at outdoor events like BBQ’s or on sleeper trains that cross the vast nation. Noodles can be eaten in bags like side dishes (without broth!), or crushed before cooking and then enjoyed as smaller noodles in soup. They also enjoy – brace yourself – putting mayonnaise on their noodles!
In Germany, citizens prefer the tastes of shrimp, beef, and chicken, as well as tomato-bases and spicy broths. Instead of wielding chopsticks to eat the Asian cuisine, Germans will often use a spoon and fork to eat noodles that have been cut short. Even if the noodles and soups are similar to traditional preparation methods, sometimes the style of eating the noodles can vastly differ.
Chicken wins again in the Americas as the most popular flavor, though Northern America prefers to keep the flavors a bit more mild than the spice levels Brazil and Mexico are famous for. Americans who more commonly use a microwave to cook their food have begun to see a surplus in instant ramen noodles that cater to being cooked in a microwave. Like the Germans, American also use a spoon and fork to eat shorter noodles.
Brazilians love instant ramen noodles but prefer dipping them into the soup instead of enjoying them together. They also prefer creamy soups with more pasta-like noodles. Mexicans prefer adding salsa sauce, chili sauce, and limes to their soups to kick the flavors up a notch. This trend for extra-spicy noodles is slowly making its way over to America though it’ll definitely take time to catch on.
As there are many different countries in Asia, each with different people and customs, several unique varieties of instant ramen have been created and enhanced. In China, noodles are eaten for breakfast or snacks, and often have Chinese five-spice powder added in. Indonesia enjoys Mie Goreng, or fried noodles, with chili condiments, and most instant ramen varieties are halal.
Vietnam prefers noodles with elasticity, and often add or use pho rice noodles in their soups. Instant noodles are eaten both for breakfast and dinner. Korea prefers their noodles to be as spicy as possible, and also enjoy thick noodles that have been mixed with potato starch for an added springy texture.
Japan has one of the largest selections of instant noodle varieties, ranging from ramen to udon to soba and everything in between. They’ve even created low-calorie and gluten-free varieties to cater to those who want to eat healthily, but still, enjoy the delights of ramen! In Singapore, a specialty flavor called laksa reigns supreme alongside curry and chicken. Taiwan prefers pork flavored soup with an added pinch of coriander.
Nepal uses two different types of noodles: brown noodles that are packed with flavor, and white noodles that have no taste. The brown noodles are eaten dry as a snack for the most part. Curry and tom yum flavors are the preferential choices in Malaysia, and pork and beef flavors are almost non-existent. Thailand also enjoys tom yum flavors, as well as Thai suki and mince pork with rice vermicelli and pho as the noodles.
Due to over half of the population is vegetarian, India’s curry and chicken tikka flavored soups are vegetable and tomato-based. They also sell small servings of noodles called “Chota Packs” for children to snack on. In the Philippines, Panic Canton uses the flavors of Calamondin and hot chili peppers with fried noodles to entice taste buds. Small cups of instant noodles are also popular snacks, and seafood is the number one choice of flavor.
The Middle East And Africa
Chicken is generally considered to be the most popular flavor across the Middle East and Africa. In Kenya, hot soup isn’t quite as popular, and as such the noodles are eaten dry after being cooked. Kenyans like to include beans and vegetables into the dish as well. Nigeria is much the same, and children love to eat soup-less noodles for breakfast, snacks, and lunch. In Saudi Arabia, instant noodles are purchased by the box and have to be halal.
Varieties of Broths and Spices
No matter how much a country or person decides to spice up their dish, the basics will always be present in some way or another. The most common broths used are: chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and vegetable. Spices get a little more complicated, but generally garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and lemongrass make an appearance in most varieties. Many instant ramen soups also see the use of curry, chili peppers, soy sauce, bean paste, citrus juices, and even cheese!
Who Has The Best Instant Ramen?
It’s impossible to say for sure who has the best instant ramen as everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Those who prefer a spicy kick to their meal might sway more towards the Americas, while those who want a more authentic tasting instant ramen might find themselves looking for Asian varieties. No matter which you choose, instant ramen can be customized and changed to suit almost anyone preferences – just don’t forget to enjoy eating it as much as you do preparing it!
If you’re curious about Japanese instant ramen varieties, check out our subscription page and have a box of carefully selected Japanese instant ramen sent straight to your home every single month! Try out as many unique and interesting flavors as you can handle without even setting foot out of your front door!