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 recipe I would like to introduce to you Sapporo Miso Ramen! Sapporo is the birthplace of Miso ramen despite originally serving a lot of Shoyu and Shio ramen back in the day., Nowadays however, when you think about ramen in this city, you’ll immediately think of the iconic Miso Ramen. In this article I would like to further explain this style while going over points on my KAONASHI RAMEN video. Please refer to that video and the blog for hos to make the soup, noodles, aroma oil, and toppings. Steps 1-5 of the Sapporo Ramen recipe will be found there. For this article, I would like to focus on step 6 of the dish, the finishing of the soup which is an excerpt from that video and blog post.
Ramen is often made following these steps.
1. Put the tare and aroma oil in to the bowl.
2. Pour in the soup.
3. Add boiled noodles.
4. Place toppings.
However, with Miso Ramen you would typically follow these steps.
1. Saute vegetables and ground meat in lard.
2. Add the soup and tare in with the sauteed vegetables and ground meat
3. Add boiled noodles in to the bowl.
4. Pour the soup over the noodles.
5. Add additional toppings.
The key feature of Sapporo Miso Ramen is that the ingredients are sauteed in a pan with the soup and tare as described in steps 1 and 2. A lot of variables can affect the ramen when prepared using a pot such as the flavors of the sauteed vegetables as well as the flavors and salinity of the soup which can change significantly if boiled too much. In other words, compare to regular ramen, the skill of the chef can play a huge role in the final ramen. Nonetheless, the reason why it has continued to be prepared in this way has a lot to do with how delicious the end ramen will be. The fragrant aromas of the stir fried meat and vegetables transfer to the lard and soup which is the key reason for its delicious flavor. Furthermore, this method is also the best way to serve the ramen piping hot as the warmed soup becomes encapsulate beneath the layer of lard which was used in the saute process.
Let’s get back to the finishing steps to prepare this ramen as outlined in this article. First the minced pork, onions, and bean sprouts are stir fried in lard. For this particular recipe, we seasoned the minced pork before stir frying, but this isn’t always the case at all ramen shops. By doing this here, the presence of the minced meat is more pronounced and it can be enjoyed as a topping as well, just one unique part of this recipe.
Next we add the soup and the miso tare. What I wanted to highlight here is the quality and composition of the miso used, specifically the flavor and salt content. Typically, miso is used in Japanese cooking to make miso soup, where we basically mix miso in to a warmed dashi stock off the heat and then heat it back up again once the miso has dissolved. The reason why we take unusual measures when mixing in the miso is because the flavors can change drastically otherwise. Same can be said when mixing the miso in miso ramen. If the miso is heated for too long, the flavor will change, the salinity will change as it continues to boil in the soup. Even the time spent stir frying the vegetables will change the overall texture of the end ramen. Many ramen shops will prepare multiple servings at once using this wok method with the purpose of having a consistent end product, really the sign of the craftsmanship needed to prepare this ramen. Don’t let this scare you however as there are ways to ease this step. When adding the miso, turn off the heat and let it dissolve slowly. Have a taste and if the miso is too strong, add a bit of soup, if it is too light, add more miso. When you get the flavors to your liking, bring the soup up to temp to finish.
Now, let’s take a look at the noodles. Before boiling the noodles, knead the a bit to give them a bit of texture. In this recipe the noodles have aged for about 5 days, but the main characteristic we’re aiming for with these Sapporo ramen noodles are the medium-thick curly consistency. As mentioned above, the soup for the Sapporo Ramen is served piping hot. Therefore the noodles need to hold its shape more to pair with this soup which is achieved through the aging as well as the high water content of the noodles.
Adding noodles to the bowl without any soup is another unique characteristic of this style. Usually in ramen, noodles are placed in a bowl of soup and while there are various reasons why this is done, the main one is to ensure that the noodles retain it’s texture and consistency. When noodles are cooked, the surface of them will gelatinize and will tend to stick to one another if left as is. However, in Sapporo ramen, the soup and ingredients are simmered together so putting in the noodles after the soup will make the ingredients sink to the bottom under the noodles so in order to make the ramen more visually appealing, the soup is poured over the noodles.
Once the noodles, soup, and ingredients are plated in the bowl, your ramen is complete, but you may have realized that a lot of effort is put in to the corn in this recipe. Many shops will serve the corn as is, but the corn is seasoned with butter and soy sauce here. The reason why I decided to season the corn in this way is because the flavors are reminiscent of the grilled corn found in Japanese food stalls. The burnt butter and soy sauce pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the corn and makes for a great combination. While some may think that corn is a common topping for Sapporo Miso Ramen, in fact, most shops actually do not offer corn on their ramen. Famous Miso Ramen shops like Menya Saimi, long standing Sumire, and the origin of miso ramen, Aji no Sanpei all serve their miso ramen sans corn. While the corn and butter wasn’t originally included as a topping in Sapporo ramen, it has since become synonymous with the style. The reason for the corn and butter is because they are two of the biggest exports of Hokkaido prefecture. As a unique way of attracting tourists to the home grown corn and butter of the prefecture, shops began adding them to the ramen. Nowadays, it is quite common to see corn added in your miso ramen, but know that this is not entirely authentic to the style. Regardless, I hope you enjoy this special corn recipe with your homemade miso ramen.
While the process required to make this ramen is quite tedious and troublesome, your hard work will be reflected in your end result. Stir fried minced pork, onions, and bean sprouts give the ramen a fantastic savory flavor profile and by boiling the soup along with it, ensures that those aromas permeate in to the ramen and this is what makes Sapporo Miso Ramen so popular. While not truly authentic, the butter corn also adds to the deliciousness of this ramen. And while there are so many components to this ramen, the main attraction is the miso and the strong presence of this flavor profile is what makes this style so special.
Side note, Ramen Hero’s Crying Samurai is a miso ramen with a fantastic aroma oil made with caramelized onions. The recipe was developed in order to bring out the phenomenal aromas of caramelized onions and it’s perfect pairing with miso. While it may not be as fresh as straight from the ramen chef’s wok, it is definitely worthy of trying for a miso ramen experience as close to Honkaku as you can get from the comforts of your own home.