There are all sorts of ramen types and classes available and you can quickly become overwhelmed by the choices. Everything is delicious! Today, we are going to take a look at an obscure and particularly confusing: dry ramen noodles.
How Dry Ramen Noodles Came to be
Simply put, dry ramen can refer to a specific type of the noodle dish called Tsukemen, which roughly translates to “dipping ramen” or “dipping noodles” in English. As the name suggests, you can expect to get a dish that goes against the traditional ramen bowl everyone is used to.
Instead of having just one bowl where all the ingredients are placed, you will get two: one for the dry ramen noodles and one for the thick, tasty broth itself. Tokyo restaurateur Kazuo Yamagishi invented the dipping dish in 1961 at his restaurant famously known as Taishoken. To date, there are already more than 100 Taishoken restaurants across Japan. The dish rapidly grew popular not only in Japan, but internationally as well.
Most ramen restaurants in Japan already serve Tsukemen. Japanese chefs usually serve cold soba noodles but some may use udon as well. Another variation of the recipe is the Zaru Soba dish. One of the main differences is that the Zaru Soba noodles are served cold on top of a bamboo mat.
How Do I Eat Tsukemen, Zaru Soba or Dipping Ramen?
If you have not guessed it yet, the proper way to eat Tsukemen is to dip the dry ramen noodles into the broth. Some restaurants also provide a variety of condiments such as garlic, pepper, chili oil, and more in order to create your own preferred flavor combination for your noodle soup.
Tsukemen ramen noodles also present a distinct texture compared to the traditional dishes. It is often thicker and chewier which makes it all the more enjoyable to dip and slurp.
You can choose to sip the broth or the sauce but they may be too salty in some instances. Other restaurants utilize hot water to dilute the salty sauce which can make it tolerable for sipping. Make sure to drink a lot of water or tea during and after eating the delicious dish. You can also dilute the rest of the sauce with leftover soup.
Of course, chopsticks should always be used to grab the noodles and to dip them in the sauce. Other foodies just mix the sauce and the noodles but that would just totally defeat the purpose.
Tsukemen can also be topped off with mean and other ingredients. Fried pork cutlets and soft-boiled eggs are commonly used as toppings. In other places, there can be a separate plate just for the additional foods on the side such as meat, fish cakes, more egg, and a few pieces of nori.
Who Loves Dipping Noodles?
One common issue with eating ramen is that you cannot really rush through the whole experience. Ramen comes in hot and you cannot really dig in immediately. Not everyone can enjoy a hot bowl of soup and noodles.
Tsukemen is then perfect for those who just want to speedily consume a flavorful noodle dish without resorting to instant noodles. Often times, the dry ramen noodles are served chilled. The end result of dipping them into the broth is a just a lukewarm burst of flavors.
There is no standard broth flavor for the dry ramen dish. It entirely depends on the specialty of the restaurant that you will be dining in. Some still use meaty broth (beef flavor, chicken flavor, etc.) that use soy sauce among other ingredients.
Dashi soup can also be served along with the dipping noodles. The soup, which is part of Japan’s rich cuisine, also forms the base for other noodle broth and even miso soup.
What Are Other Dry Ramen Recipes?
Dry ramen can also refer to some recipes that do not use soup. These recipes are often stir-fried dishes such as fried ramen noodles, Asian dry noodles, Mongolian beef ramen noodles, and more.
Yakisoba is often mistaken for being a dry noodle recipe. However, it is not really considered as a ramen dish even though it also hails from Japan.
The term can also just refer to uncooked instant ramen noodles. There is really no standard or direct definition.
Stir-fry recipes are pretty much straightforward. Most of the ingredients can easily be found in the grocery store or the public market. Some of the common ingredients include:
Chicken (or any other meat of choice such as pork, beef, or even squid)
You can also make your own recipe out of the ingredients. There are some common steps among the recipes available across the internet. For instance:
Noodles can just be boiled in water. Leave a bit of oil so they do not stick. Cook them for just a few minutes in your preference of consistency.
Sauce can be mixed with flavor packets and water. If you want to make your own, you can just blend soy, spices, cornstarch, and water.
Stir frying is also simple. You just need to saute the onion, garlic, other vegetables of your choice, and your protein. Afterwards, you can then add the noodles and the sauce to be mixed together.
Are Dry Ramen Noodles Bad For Your Health?
Just like any other food, dry noodles should be eaten in moderation. Ramen dishes are often the target of health freaks because they can contain huge amounts of sodium and oil. Instant ramen noodles can also be notorious for this because of the seasoning packets. The boiled water does not really “take away” all of the chemicals.
Another factor to consider is the how many calories there are in a single dish. Some ramen dishes can easily go up to 500 calories per bowl because of all the oil and the noodles themselves. Eat ramen as part of a balanced diet.
In fact, a pack of dry ramen noodles can contain 356 calories according to Nutritionix. You can see the nutrition facts below but here are some highlights:
Most of the calories come from carbohydrates and then fat. The sodium amount per serving is 1610mg which is already 67% of the daily recommended value.
Technically, you can consume ramen everyday and still lose weight. However, this is only if you still keep count of your daily calorie limit. In addition, you would also need to take into consideration the macro-nutrients if you want to keep a balanced diet. It is not really a recommended practice.
If you will be cooking your own dish, you can consider using low-sodium alternatives for the dipping sauce. Stir-frying in just a bit of oil can also help reduce the calories. You may also want to consider cutting down on salt and eliminating instant packets altogether.
Noodle Wax Myth
Contrary to popular belief, noodles do not really stay in the stomach for a long time. They pass through the digestive system like any other food.
The myth, which was passed through emails and shared throughout Facebook, that noodles are encased in wax is also untrue. Snopes already busted the myth a few years ago. If it posed a serious health risk, there would not be thousands of restaurants serving ramen all over the world today. No grocery or market would also sell instant noodles anymore at the risk of being shut down by both international and local governments.
Dry ramen noodle dishes can be a good alternative for those who still want to enjoy a scrumptious bowl of ramen in hot weather. Make sure to eat them in moderation!