First, before we talk about how to eat your ramen, let’s dive into a little history.
With its roots as a Chinese noodle dish, ramen spread to Japan and integrated with the local food-culture. In 1859 Japan opened its ports to the world, bringing in linguistic interpreters from China and Western countries. Foreign settlements were set up in Japan’s major port towns, where Chinese restaurants began to line the streets. This gave way to the formation of China Town. There, the Chinese noodle dish that would later become the source of Japanese ramen was served. In time, the Japanese locals began to eat at these Chinese establishments, some of which began to set up their own independent operations, selling noodles from carts (or yatai) on the streets. (MORE HERE)
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According to many ramen experts, the first specialized ramen shop opened in Yokohama in 1910. The restaurant employed Chinese cooks and popularized what was then known as “shina soba”: shina for China, soba for the noodle dish already well established in Japanese cuisine.
In 1958, the first packaged instant ramen noodles were invented in Japan by Nissin Foods (http://www.nissinfoods.com/), and were first given a name of Chinese origin – “Ramen.”. When instant ramen was introduced in 1958, it wasn’t considered budget grub at all. Through the early ‘70s, the product was aimed at middle-class women and children: supermarket food providing whole, nutritious meals to nuclear families, as opposed to the fare dished out in ramen shops to students and workers flocking to reindustrializing cities by the thousands. (MORE HERE)
HOW TO EAT RAMEN
You should eat your ramen any way you want it! Ramen is meant to be enjoyed and shouldn’t come with so many rules. But, if you want a few tips to help, here you are:
- Start with the broth: Ramen chefs cook broths for hours. Reward them! Sip a few spoonfuls of the broth before diving into the ramen noodles.
- Eat fast: There’s only one speed to eat ramen, and that’s fast. Ramen noodles continue to cook in the hot broth they are served in. No one wants a bowl of soggy ramen!
- Slurp loudly: It’s not only OK, it’s expected. In order to eat quickly without burning yourself, slurping simultaneously cools the noodles while jetting them down your throat.
- Now about the spoon. Pull the noodles out and thread them loosely over your chopsticks, using your soup spoon to loop them over. Then dip the noodles back into the broth and use your spoon to soak up the soup. Bring both to your mouth at the same time — ideally with some green onions in the mix. The dish is best enjoyed when you’re getting broth, noodles, and toppings all at once. (MORE HERE)
FUN RAMEN FACTS
In Japan today there are over 35,000 ramen noodle restaurants that each pride themselves in their own ramen noodle recipe development.
Ramen noodles were the first ever noodles consumed in space.
Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi feasted upon these vac-packed instanoodles while aboard the Discovery space shuttle.
Traditionally, ramen noodles were made using well water, which is naturally alkaline. Today, recipes call for kansui, an alkaline, mineral-rich water sold in Asian markets. The kansui reacts with the flour to give ramen its yellow color, springy texture, and earthy (borderline funky) scent. It may also be labeled as potassium carbonate or sodium hydroxide.
In Japanese ramen shops, talking is forbidden while eating a bowl of ramen. Men and women sit in silence, reverentially eating their bowls to respect and reflect on the hard work the ramen maker has undertaken to create such an edible masterpiece.