Traditional Miso Ramen
Ramen can come in many different styles, but the four most common broths used in ramen dishes are shio, shoyu, miso, and tonkotsu. Anyone who’s ever had a fresh bowl of ramen, either in Japan or elsewhere else in the world that caters to ramen lovers, can generally tell which broth is used by both sight and taste. Some of the broths are clear, some cloudy, and others are somewhere in between. Although they all have their own unique taste and appearance, each of the staple broths for ramen are delicious in their own special way.
For this article, we’re going to dive deep into the history and composition of the youngest variety of ramen: miso ramen.
What is Miso Ramen?
Miso ramen is the fourth and youngest staple form of ramen that emerged in Japan around the 1960s. It was originally created in Northern Hokkaido, and was supposed to be a soup that could stave off the annual cold winters that people in the area had to endure. News of adding miso to ramen broth quickly spread, and the delicious dish can now be found almost anywhere throughout Japan.
The broth itself is a combination of miso, oily chicken or fish broth, and on occasion tonkotsu or lard. There are various ways to mix and match flavors, but at the core of miso ramen is (obviously) miso, which gives the base a slightly cloudy look and almost spicy taste. The soup itself is thicker than most, but is still all around a very hearty soup. The standard toppings to use on miso ramen are: butter and corn, leeks, bean sprouts, stir-fried pork slices, garlic, onions, and boiled eggs. Preferred noddles to accompany the broth are curly, chewy, and thick.
Why Was Miso Ramen Created?
As stated above, miso ramen came about as a way to stave off the unbearably cold winters common to the Hokkaido region. Locals were already enjoying shoyu, shio, and tonkotsu ramen, but there was still a growing need for a fourth flavor to complete the ramen arsenal. Miso was being used in other dishes, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to add the soybean paste to other broths during culinary experiments.
It’s mainly due in part to the fact that Hokkaido has such close proximity to the ports nearest to China where ramen originated that they had the opportunity to create new ramen flavors and broths. It’s said that ramen coming directly from China had to go through Hokkaido first, meaning that the second largest island of Japan got to experiment with the delicious noodles and soups before anyone else in Japan could. For that, many people are thankful that those in Hokkaido rose to the challenge to make some of the best ramen soups in the land.
How To Make Traditional Miso Ramen
Like all ramens, there are three critical parts to the meal: broth, noodles, and toppings. For the most part, the broth starts out as a pork, chicken, or seafood broth, and then miso, shio, or shoyu are added. For miso ramen, miso paste is added to the broth to flavor the soup. Some shops create their own paste from particular soybeans, but others use the more common Japanese soybean paste. Regardless, the broth of the soup can have any flavoring, but to be miso soup it has to have miso added in.
Toppings and noodles are just as important as the soup base. In some cases, a poor choice of noodles can ruin an entire dish. Using wheat flour noodles that are curly, chewy, and thick are best for maintaining the perfect ratio of broth to noodle, as the noodles won’t absorb too much of the soup while you gobble the dish up. Add some corn, butter, leeks, bean sprouts, and choice of meat and you’re all set.
Where To Get Traditional Miso Ramen
As miso ramen originated in Hokkaido, the best places to get a bowl of authentic, traditional miso ramen are also in Hokkaido. Here’s a few of our top choices straight from the northern-most part of Japan!
If you take a short stroll from Misono Station, you’ll likely see a small ramen shop amongst the apartments and houses nearby. You’ll recognize that it’s a ramen shop by the simple fact that there’ll likely be a line outside the door of hungry customers eagerly awaiting for their chance at getting a succulent bowl of miso ramen. Specializing in tonkotsu-base miso ramen, Menya Saimi is the perfect ramen shop to warm your cold stomach on a snowy day in Hokkaido.
Address: Misono, 10 Jo, Toyohira, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Ebisoba Ichigen has spread through chain restaurants across Japan – the quality has only grown with the increase in the Hokkaido ramen empire! Known for their exciting, bold choices in flavor, Ebisoba still manages to serve amazing miso ramen that will make any mouth water at the chance of tasting such fresh, flavorful ingredients. Most of the ramen broths are made with an interesting shrimp-base that is almost unheard of in the rest of the country. If you want to try something that’s both new but still holds tightly to tradition, head over to Ebisoba Ichigen as soon as you can!
Address: 9-1024-10 Minami 7 Jonishi, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido
Famous for dishing up Hokkaido’s signature miso ramen, Ramen Singen holds true to traditional ramen values and delivers a hearty bowl of miso ramen that is sure to delight almost anyone. Locals and tourist alike can come together to enjoy authentic, Japanese miso ramen. If you’re still hungry after a bowl or two – which most people aren’t – they also have some incredibly tasty side dishes like gyoza and rice that will fill the remaining empty spaces in your stomach. Grab a seat, grab your chopsticks, and dig in!
Address: 8 Chome-8-2, Minami 6 Jonishi, Chuo, Sapporo, Hokkaido
How Does Miso Ramen Stand Up To Other Ramens?
Even though it’s the newest ramen on the block, miso ramen holds up quite well against the other ramens in Japan. Miso ramen was created by putting an interesting spin on a classic dish using an age-old ingredient, and people around the world are better for it. Whether you’re trying to stave off the cold, or are just in the mood for a hearty bowl of noodles, miso ramen is sure to hit the spot.
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