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What Is Ramen?
Ramen are thin, yellow noodles made from wheat and typically served in a flavorful hot broth. Kansui (alkaline water) gives ramen noodles their unique, springy texture and yellow color. Ramen originated in China, but it became very popular in Japan, particularly after World War II, when Ramen’s popularity rose above other Japanese noodles such as soba and udon. Ramen is a comfort food staple in Japan, and dried noodles and instant ramen packs can be found in Asian grocery stores.
What Is Miso Ramen?
Miso ramen is a Japanese noodle soup flavored with a paste made from fermented soy beans. Miso is one of three types of tare (seasoning) used to flavor ramen broth in Japan—the other two are shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce). Miso is a popular additive for vegetarian and vegan ramen broths since it adds umami flavor without animal products.
Japanese ramen starts with chicken stock or a soup base made from pork bones, seafood, or dashi, and the tare is typically added later so that one stock can yield multiple flavors. This also allows the chefs at ramen shops to control the seasoning for each bowl of ramen. For spicy miso ramen, add sriracha to the miso paste.
Shio Ramen vs. Shoyu Ramen vs. Miso Ramen: What’s the Difference?
Ramen can be categorized by the type of tare, or seasoning, that flavors the soup base. There are three main categories:
- Miso ramen: Ramen seasoned with miso paste (fermented bean paste) has a nutty, umami-rich flavor and makes any soup base taste heartier.
- Shio ramen: This is ramen primarily seasoned with shio (salt). It has a milder flavor that really lets the flavor of the broth shine through.
- Shoyu ramen: This type of ramen is primarily seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce), which adds saltiness but also a more complex, umami flavor to the broth.
Classic Miso Ramen Recipe
Prep Time15 min
Total Time45 min
Cook Time30 min
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade or low-sodium
- 3 tablespoons red miso paste
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup bean sprouts
- 1 head baby bok choy, quartered
- 6 ounces ramen noodles
- 2 pieces menma (fermented bamboo shoots)
- 2 pieces nori
- 1 soft-boiled egg, halved
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground sesame seeds
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring chicken broth to a simmer.
- Whisk in miso paste and soy sauce and reduce heat to low to keep miso soup base hot.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, sauté the veggies. In a medium frying pan or wok, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and sauté until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms start to get crispy and golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the bean sprouts and baby bok choy and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Cook ramen noodles in boiling water according to package directions and drain well.
- Divide noodles between two bowls and ladle the miso soup base over the noodles.
- Top with sautéed veggies and menma.
- Tuck a nori sheet in between the side of the bowl and an egg half.
- Garnish the ramen dish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
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