Spicy Seasoned Chicken and Vegetable Ramen from new cookbook, Ramen: 50 Classic Ramen and Asian Noodle Soups by Heather Whinney . Photo courtesy of Lorenz Books

21 Jan Food: Noodling Over Ramen

If you were a college student in the 1960s or early 1970s, your inexpensive food of choice might have been a McDonald’s burger, a Lum’s ham with melted cheese, or a Howard Johnson’s (aka, Ho Jo) grilled “frankfurter.” Wow, at $0.45 for a “Mcy D’s” burger, fries, and a shake, who needed a job?

Back then, you’d probably never even heard of ramen.

Enter the next wave of college students who discovered ramen, the mix of wheat noodles, broth, and toppings. After what seemed to be a tsunami of dorm room popularity, the wiggly noodles have become very mainstream.

Miso Steak. Photo: Ramen: 50 Classic Ramen and Asian Noodle Soups

From Humble Beginnings

The Chinese noodle, first introduced to Japan during the early 20th century, adapted the name from the Chinese la mein, or hand-pulled noodles.

But the popularity explosion of ramen in the U.S. can be attributed to the founder of Nissin Foods, Momofuku Ando.

Nissin Foods boasts:

“There is only one company that can rightfully claim the Pinnacle of Noodledom. Only one company whose founder, faced with a Japanese food shortage after WWII, invented instant ramen and sparked a 3-minute global revolution. Only one whose spirit of innovation continues to provide simple, nourishing delight to billions of people. Only one that has been loved around the world for more than 60 years. There is only one Nissin Foods.”

Nissin Foods founder, Momofuku Ando, was a Taiwanese-Japanese inventor. He’s credited as the inventor of instant noodles and the creator of the brands Top Ramen and Cup Noodles.

According to Nissin Foods, while visiting the U.S. in 1966, Momofuku saw Americans using forks to eat noodles out of cups, rather than using bowls and chopsticks. He decided a solution would be a noodle cup and developed the brand Cup Noodles®.

For 10 years, beginning in 1996, a 60-foot Nissin Cup Noodle sign greeted visitors of Times Square in New York City. It loomed over Times Square from the top of the One Times Square, the site for the New Year’s Eve ball drop.

Shaking to Ramen

Ramen has become so much a part of gastronomic pleasures that a playlist was even created: Music You Should Listen to When Slurping Ramen. The playlist appears on The Mind of the Chef website, the show produced by the late Anthony Bourdain.

Ramen Museum

Ramen is celebrated in Japan with its own museum. The Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum opened in 1994 and is a celebration of the noodle.

Roasted Squash and Mushroom Ramen

How to Prepare Ramen

A new cookbook Ramen: 50 Classic Ramen and Asian Noodle Soups by Heather Whinney can become your guide on how to prepare many delicious ramen recipes. Whinney walks you through the history of ramen, how to prepare the broth or stock/base critical to the perfect ramen, the flavorings, the types of noodles (fresh, somen, soba, dried ramen, udon, and instant), the toppings (protein and vegetables), equipment, and utensils.

Filled with gorgeous photographs and easy-to-follow recipes, you’ll become a ramen expert in no time.

Here are three of our favorite recipes from the book:

Miso Steak and Tomato Ramen

Spicy Seasoned Chicken and Vegetable Ramen

Roasted Squash and Mushroom Ramen

Recipes and photos reprinted with permission from Ramen: 50 Classic Ramen and Asian Noodle Soups, Lorenz Publishing.

 



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