RAMEN KAONASHI is currently serving as a Recipe Partner at Ramen Hero. As an experienced ramen chef, he will introduce us to Japanese ramen trends and even share some of his favorite recipes. If you are interested in his other content, check out his Blog and YouTube Channel!
For this article I would like to introduce to you RAMEN KAONASHI’s Japanese Shio Ramen recipe! If you found this article interesting, please be sure to check out the accompanying video and blog post where you can find a more detailed recipe on how to make this dish!
The word Shio in Japanese means salt and so Shio Ramen is what we call ramen flavored with salt. Unlike shoyu and miso, salt doesn’t particularly impart much aroma or flavor. Therefore, one of the great things about Shio Ramen is that you can enjoy the soup in it’s purest form and all the flavors in which it is comprised. However, Shio ramen isn’t as simple as just adding salt directly in to the soup, rather it is common to create a Tare seasoning for the soup with salt as the base.
Essentially, there are two ways to make delicious Shio ramen. First method relies on accentuating the flavors and umami of the soup while the second relies on making a Shio tare incorporating umami through the use of various ingredients. The hope for the second method is to create a tare comparable to that made with shoyu or miso. The former is utilized primarily by ramen shops which specialize specifically in Shio Ramen while the latter is often used by shops which offer a variety of ramen styles, like shoyu and miso, using the same soup as base. However, in most cases, both methods are often used simultaneously and will yield better results than focusing on just the one. In some cases where both Shio and shoyu tare are used on the same soup, a simple Shio tare is made so that the broth can be more simply enjoyed as opposed to with a complex shoyu tare. Whatever the case, the most important thing when making Shio ramen is to have a clear focus and purpose for the Shio tare and proceed from there.
With this recipe, you’ll be making a tare with tons of incorporated umami components. As for the aroma oil, the goal is to give the soup a multi-layered flavor profile by introducing aromas different than that which might come from the soup. Shio is unique in that it can allow for these delicate aromas and flavors to shine through where a Shoyu or Miso may be a bit overpowering. Utilizing this unique trait of Shio, here is the recipe below.
First, let’s take a look at the ingredients of the Shio Tare. The ingredients which will incorporate umami in to the tare are the kelp, dried sardines, dried bonito flakes, dried shitake mushrooms, and dried scallops. Kombu (kelp) is known to contain glutamic acid while dried sardines and dried bonito contain inosinic acid. The dried shiitake mushrooms are known sources of guanylic acid while the dried scallops contain succinic acid. By combining these different acids which are umami compounds, a synergistic effect is exhibited and the sense of “umami” is multiplied. By now, the combination of glutamic acid and inosinic acid has been well documented. However, with this recipe we add even more umami acids to give the soup a more complex sense of umami and create a multi-layered flavor profile.
As you may have noticed from the recipe, a light soy sauce is used for the Shio tare. In order to delve in to this topic, we must first discuss the differences between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. A common misconception is that lighter soy sauce has a lighter sodium content, but in fact the opposite is the case. Light soy sauce actually has a higher concentration of salt and while high in salinity, the flavor and color is suppressed which is the result of different ingredients used to make the soy sauce as well as the degree of fermentation and the difference in aging.
One of reasons why a light soy sauce is used in Japanese Washoku cooking over dark soy sauce is that it allows the other ingredients to keep its natural colors and flavor. For example, if a recipe calls for vegetables to be simmered in a dashi stock seasoned with soy sauce, the light soy sauce will help keep the natural colors and flavors of the vegetables in tact. The same can be said for using light soy sauce for Shio ramen. As I mentioned above, Shio Ramen is ramen seasoned with salt and the reason I use a Shio tare is to make sure that the natural flavors of the individual ingredients of the soup can be truly appreciated. However, salt alone lacks the umami to give the soup the complex, multi-layered flavor profiles I want to achieve. So in order to incorporate more flavors and umami in to the ramen, the light soy sauce is used for the tare.
The base for the aroma oil in this recipe is the pork fat. From there, scallops, garlic and porcini mushrooms are added to the rendered oil. Aroma oil for ramen is often made this way since this method of heating the oil with the aromatic ingredients is the most efficient way of infusing the aroma and flavor components in to the oil. The key factor to be weary of in making good aroma oil is the temperature at which the oil is heated. If the temperature is too low, the aroma will not sufficiently be extracted while, if the temperature is too high, the aromas will dissipate. In addition, depending on the ingredients used for the aroma oil, a certain temperature threshold must be met in order to bring out the intended aroma. An example of this would be garlic and onions which imparts a savory flavor and aroma through the Maillard reaction which can not be reached until it hits a certain temperature.
For this recipe, the scallops are added before the garlic and porcini mushrooms. The reason being, soaked scallops have a high water content which needs to be evaporated off before adding in the other ingredients. When utilizing the methods shown in this recipe, we must pay close attention to how the scallops are handled. The scallops have both a water soluble and fat soluble aroma component and therefore flavors can be imparted in to the aroma oil even if it was first used for the tare component. However, if at the tare component, the scallops are steeped for too long or at too high a temperature, even the fat soluble aromas may render out leaving nothing left during the aroma oil process. Therefore, during the tare making process, be careful not to over-steep the scallops or leave it on high heat for too long in order to retain their fat soluble aroma components for later.
Shio Ramen can be made by combining the tare and aroma oil of this recipe with 2 types of soup. The method of combining two types of soup is what the Japanese call “W Soup” or “Double Soup”. Different ingredients require different steeping temperatures and time for optimal flavor extraction. Rather than steeping all of the ingredients at once in one pot, the stocks are made separately to make best use of the ingredients at hand. For example, in this Shio Ramen recipe, the pork bone and aromatic vegetable stock is combined with a clam, kombu, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) stock which are made separately in different pots. Since the seafood elements, specifically, the katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), are volatile to high heat, this method ensures the flavors of the katsuobushi is utilized most effectively.
Again, Shio Ramen allows you to enjoy the flavors of the stock to the fullest. If the stock you make is great as a Shio Ramen, it is sure to be delicious when used with a shoyu or miso tare as well. So if your goal is to improve on your soup making skills, Shio Ramen is a perfect way to practice and perfect that craft! Happy slurping your Shio Ramen!
Happy slurping your Shio Ramen!