Ramen is a beloved dish that has taken the world by storm. From its humble origins in Japan to its current status as a global phenomenon, ramen has captured the hearts and taste buds of people everywhere.
But what about fish sauce? Is it a common ingredient in ramen? Many people wonder if this pungent and flavorful sauce is used in the preparation of this iconic dish.
In this article, we’ll explore the role of fish sauce in ramen and how it can be used to enhance the flavor of this already delicious meal.
So, let’s dive in and find out if ramen has fish sauce!
Does Ramen Have Fish Sauce?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. While fish sauce is not a traditional ingredient in ramen, it can be used to add a unique umami flavor to the dish.
Fish sauce is a popular ingredient in many Southeast Asian cuisines, and its popularity has spread to other parts of the world. It is made from fermented fish and salt, and it has a pungent aroma and flavor.
While some ramen recipes do call for fish sauce, it is not a common ingredient in traditional Japanese ramen. However, many chefs and home cooks have started using fish sauce as a way to add depth and complexity to their ramen broth.
When using fish sauce in ramen, it’s important to start with small quantities. Depending on the brand and type of fish sauce, the flavor can be quite intense, and you don’t want to overpower the other flavors in your broth.
Fish sauce can be added to the broth during the cooking process or used as a seasoning at the end. It pairs well with other umami-rich ingredients like soy sauce and miso paste.
What Is Fish Sauce?
Fish sauce is a condiment commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is made by fermenting fish and salt, resulting in a pungent, salty liquid that is high in umami flavor. The exact origins of fish sauce are unclear, but it has been used in various forms for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Romans used a similar condiment called garos or garum.
Fish sauce is made by layering fresh fish and salt in barrels or vats and allowing the mixture to ferment for several months to a year. The liquid that results is then strained and bottled. Different types of fish can be used, including anchovies, mackerel, and sardines.
Fish sauce can be used as a seasoning or ingredient in many dishes, including soups, stews, stir-fries, marinades, and dipping sauces. It adds a rich umami flavor to dishes and can be used as a substitute for salt in some recipes.
There are many different brands and types of fish sauce available on the market, with varying levels of quality and intensity. Some popular brands include Red Boat and Tiparos. When using fish sauce in cooking, it’s important to start with small quantities and adjust the seasoning to taste.
The History Of Ramen
Ramen is a Japanese dish that originated from Chinese noodles. In the early 1900s, ramen-noodle shops became popular in Japan and China, with Chinese workers selling meals from food carts likely being the first to introduce the Japanese to the wheat-based noodles. However, ramen’s popularity in Japan skyrocketed after the Second Sino-Japanese war, when Japanese troops returned home from China with a new appreciation for Chinese cuisine.
The term ramen was first introduced in the Taisho era, and the earliest appearance was in Yokohama in 1918. The first ramen house that became popular was Lai Lai in Asakusa, Tokyo, which served traditional Japanese-style soup made with bonito and kelp broth mixed with pork bone or chicken bone soup to become a Tokyo-style soy sauce ramen.
Over time, ramen evolved from being cheap and easy food to becoming a popular and well-known gourmet dish. After continuous research and re-creation by the Japanese, it has become a must-go destination for commuters and travelers. In the 1990s, ramen houses were popping up all over Japan and quickly became popular.
Each region in Japan has its own local style of ramen that reflects the climate, environment, and cuisine of the area. Some of the most popular styles include shio (salt) ramen, shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, miso ramen, and curry ramen. Shio ramen is the oldest of the four types and has a pale, clear broth made with plenty of salt and any combination of chicken, vegetables, fish, and seaweed. Shoyu ramen has a clear brown broth based on a chicken and vegetable stock with plenty of soy sauce added. Miso ramen features a broth that combines copious miso and is blended with oily chicken or fish broth to create a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and very hearty soup. Curry ramen is cooked with curry soup made with pork bones and vegetables seasoned with curry.
Today, ramen is an international dish with multi-country followers. Its influence has expanded beyond Japan to other parts of the world. While fish sauce is not a traditional ingredient in ramen, it can be used to add a unique umami flavor to the dish. Chefs and home cooks have started using fish sauce as a way to add depth and complexity to their ramen broth.
Ramen Ingredients: What Goes Into The Broth?
The broth is a crucial component of any ramen dish, and it’s what gives the noodles their signature flavor. While there are many variations of ramen broth, most recipes start with a base of either chicken or pork bones.
To infuse the broth with flavor, chefs and home cooks add a variety of aromatics like garlic, ginger, and onions. Some recipes also call for Thai chili, lemongrass, and anise to add depth and complexity.
Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, fried chili oil, pure sesame oil, and fish sauce are all common seasonings used in ramen broth. These ingredients add umami flavor and help to balance the richness of the broth.
Some recipes also call for miso paste, which is made from fermented soybeans. Miso adds a rich savory flavor to the broth and gives it a slightly cloudy appearance.
The Role Of Fish Sauce In Ramen
Fish sauce plays a unique role in ramen by adding a distinct umami flavor that complements the other ingredients in the broth. It contains high levels of glutamate, which is responsible for the savory taste known as umami. This makes it an excellent addition to the broth, especially for those who want to enhance the flavor of their ramen.
Fish sauce also has a high salt content, which can quickly turn a broth salty if too much is added. Therefore, it’s essential to use it sparingly and taste as you go along.
In addition to using fish sauce in the broth, it can also be used as a seasoning for tare, which is a concentrated seasoning sauce used in ramen. Fish sauce can provide a balance to the pork funk in tonkotsu tare or add an extra depth of flavor to soy-based tare.
Alternative Flavor Enhancers For Ramen
If you’re looking for alternative flavor enhancers for your ramen, there are several options to consider. One popular option is soy sauce, which is made from fermented soybeans, water, salt, and wheat. It has a rich umami flavor with a hint of sweetness and is a great substitute for fish sauce. Soy sauce is also suitable for vegans.
Another option is to add spices like white pepper, sichuan pepper, or chili flakes to the finished dish. You can also try adding a cinnamon stick, star anise, and coriander seeds to the simmering broth (remove them before serving!). These spices can add depth and complexity to your broth without overpowering the other flavors.
Fats like toasted sesame oil, chili oil, or animal fat (pork, chicken, or duck) can also be used to add richness and depth to your broth. Citrus juices like lemon or lime can be added right before serving to brighten the flavors of your ramen.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any of these ingredients on hand, you can always use the seasoning packet that comes with instant ramen. However, it’s important to note that these packets are often high in sodium and may not be the healthiest option.