This report analyses the Japanese market.
Noodles are always accompanied by soup, soba with soba-tsuyu, udon with udon-dashi and ramen with broth: soup cannot be separated from noodles in order to make them taste good, and noodles are a food that must always be in balance with the broth.
If only the noodle asserts itself but the soup is weak, there is no balance, and conversely, if the soup is too strong, the noodle should not be visible.
For example, in the case of udon, the noodles do not have a strong aroma, but in the case of soba, the soba is a food to enjoy the aroma of the noodle, so if the soup has a strong aroma, the aroma of the soba will disappear.
Therefore, in the case of mori or zaru soba, where the aroma of the soba is to be enjoyed, the dipping sauce should be made from hon kaeshi, which is a type of soy sauce without the flavour of soy sauce. If the aroma of the buckwheat has disappeared, as in the case of kake-soba, use nama-kaeshi, which retains the aroma of the buckwheat, instead of the aroma of the buckwheat.
The most important element required for the noodle broth mentioned above is that the broth should be well mixed with (ride on) the surface of the noodle.
Generally, soups made by Japanese food artisans have a low extract concentration and therefore do not ride on udon-soba noodles.
The same applies to ramen noodles, as the broth made by Chinese chefs has a low extract concentration, so it does not go on the ramen noodles.
Therefore, the broths and soups for udon-soba and ramen must have a sufficiently high extract concentration and must be able to sit firmly on the surface of the noodle.
1. components of ramen soup
Ramen soup is made up of three components
1. soup base
The first is the soup base, known as white broth in udon noodles.
The principle of soup extraction is the process of extracting only the flavour components of the ingredients into the water.
Therefore, soft water speeds up the extraction process and increases the extraction rate, thereby reducing the loss of ingredients and time.
In addition, for ingredients such as fish and shellfish, the extract of the ingredients can be sufficiently extracted with water. Conversely, too much temperature can cause odours and bitterness in seafood, so temperature control is an important factor.
For detailed information on temperatures, times and the order in which ingredients are added and removed, please refer to our ramen school and textbooks, but one of the most important things to remember is never to boil or squeeze dried fish when using dried fish.
This is because the bitterness and other unpleasant tastes of the entrails will ruin the broth.
This is why digital cooking, with its precise control of temperature, is the best way to produce truly delicious soups and broths.
The soup base is the foundation of the soup, and the higher the extract concentration, the deeper and richer the soup will be, and the higher the viscosity, the easier it will be to get it to stick to the noodles.
Therefore, it is essential to constantly check with a densitometer whether the required concentration has been reached in order to produce a tasty soup base, and if extraction is carried out without a densitometer and relying only on the cooking time, the concentration will not always be stable and it will be difficult to produce a soup that always tastes good.
The concentration is indicated in degrees on a densitometer, and the lowest concentration for ramen was around 1 degree during the period of food shortages immediately after the end of the war, but today the lowest is around 2 degrees and the highest is around 4-5 degrees for clear soups.
For soups that are cloudy, such as Hakata tonkotsu soup or chicken shiryu soup, the lowest is around 3-4 degrees Celsius and the highest is around 12 degrees Celsius.
Thus, it is not too much to say that the history of the evolution of ramen soups is a history of increasing concentration, and ramen in the Kanto region has also become very concentrated over the past few decades.
The higher the concentration, the richer and stickier the soup becomes, eventually moving away from a liquid and closer to a solid.
There are even soups nowadays in which a 500 yen coin floats in the soup.
Another important point of the soup base is that the soup base should be tasty even if you drink it alone, without the original sauce or flavoured oil.
If the soup base is not tasty, the final soup will not be tasty.
Therefore, when the soup base is checked for taste by itself, with nothing added before adding the original sauce or flavoured oil, it must be tasty on its own.
If the soup base by itself is not tasty, it will not be tasty no matter how much Moto Dare or flavoured oil is added.
In order to make a tasty soup base, it is important to control the quality of the ingredients, and for animal bones, not only quality control but also freshness control is important.
The same applies to chickens: chicken bones and whole chickens that can be used to make a good broth must have a good fat content and be freshly managed.
It is not a good idea for the ingredients to be smelly before cooking, including storage.
If the soup base expresses the depth of the soup, the original sauce is the direction of the flavours.
The main types of flavour are salt, soy sauce, miso and tonkotsu (pork bone), and the original sauce clarifies the direction of these flavours. The soup base alone tastes like an unfocused lens, but the Moto Dare brings the flavours into focus and clarifies the direction of the deliciousness.
Motodare are the various seasonings that go with the soup and help define the flavour profile of the ramen, usually adding various umami flavours to the basic seasonings such as salt, soy sauce and miso.
The main strong umami ingredients are kelp, clams, scallops, shrimps, shiitake mushrooms and seafood knots, which are incorporated into the basic seasonings such as soy sauce to achieve a synergistic effect of umami through multiple layers of flavour.
In our ramen school, we combine these original seasonings in 0.1g increments to create the ideal flavour.
Furthermore, there are even ratios and equations for achieving the ideal flavour.
It is exactly the same process as assembling a precision machine to find a delicious taste that cannot be found anywhere else.
In the case of our noodle school, especially in the case of brewed products such as soy sauce and miso, we always use a blend of four different types of koji bacteria, as the koji bacteria attached to each brewery is different.
This makes it easier to deepen the taste due to the synergistic effect of the fungi.
3. flavoured oil
The role of the flavoured oil is to add impact to the taste of the ramen.
As the word ‘flavoured oil’ suggests, the aroma of the ingredients is extracted into the oil in a variety of animal, (seafood and removed) plant-based oils, which have the same strong flavour components as the original sauce.
The use of flavoured oil creates an oil film on the surface of the ramen, which makes it harder for the ramen to cool down, and when the ramen noodle lines are pulled up from the soup and eaten, the flavoured oil is entangled in each noodle line of the ramen, making it more ramen-like.
It also balances the overall taste and strengthens the impact of the ramen’s deliciousness, compared to the case without the fragrant oil.
Aroma is also an important part of the tastiness.
As described above, Japanese ramen has developed independently, away from Chinese ramen, and is truly a food that has been innovated in Japan.
Just as sushi became California rolls, so too has ramen become a global food, spreading around the world through innovation, such as the creation of tsukemen (dipping noodles) and mikumen (mixed noodles).
Therefore, if Japanese ramen is to spread further around the world in the future, the challenge for the future will be to eliminate as many restrictions as possible on what ramen is, but to continue to innovate freely and flexibly, without losing sight of the essence of ramen.
2. why do so many existing ramen shops face so many challenges in making soup?
Even if you actually run a ramen restaurant, few people make ramen soup based on a deep understanding of the essence of ramen soup as described above.
About half of the students who attend our ramen school are existing ramen shop owners or professional cooks.
There are several reasons why professionals knock on the door of our ramen school, most of them being that they are unable to make good soup.
And some of the people who attend are already very successful, but are keen to take it to even higher levels and come to learn the basics of digital cooking.
The following problems were then identified when summarising the reasons for not making tasty soups.
I don't know how much water to add to the ingredients to get the best balance
In terms of the extraction principle, extraction is easier if as much water as possible is used than the quantity of ingredients, due to the principle of osmosis.
However, the more water there is compared to the quantity of ingredients, the more difficult it is to increase the concentration and the longer it takes to boil down the final product, so the optimum quantity of water in terms of efficiency is our ratio of 1:2 ingredients to water.
At this level, clear water that remains transparent can be completed with little or no additional water.
For white water with a high concentration, add hot water all the way to the middle and when the concentration rises to 5-6 degrees Celsius, stop adding hot water and increase the concentration to 8 degrees Celsius or more at once.
Naturally, all the water or hot water used is soft water, which speeds up the finishing time, improves the yield and increases efficiency. With tap water, the water evaporates but the minerals remain, so the concentration of minerals will continue to increase.
I don't know how to cook and how to store the soup after it has been made
When any soup, whether animal or seafood-based, is finished, it is essential to cool it rapidly with cold water and store it in the refrigerator to maintain the soup’s quality for a long time.
If soup is left at room temperature after completion, it will begin to deteriorate and eventually spoil.
Many ramen shops start cooking the soup early in the morning, the soup is not fully finished when the shop opens at 11am, the soup is finished during the idle time between 2 and 3am, and if the soup is kept on the fire throughout the rest of the day, it is too thick in the evening and the soup is not stable throughout the day.
At the same time, at the end of the day, the surplus soup is disposed of, resulting in a large loss.
Therefore, as we teach at our ramen school, the soup is prepared the day before, rapidly cooled in water, stored in the fridge and used the next day while heating only the required amount, so that the soup quality is always consistent from morning to night without any fluctuation. Furthermore, if this soup is stored in the fridge, it can be used for two to three days, which also eliminates losses.
Can I use a pressure cooker when making soup
With regard to pressure cookers, there are pros and cons among our users, and many of them are of the opinion that pressure cookers are not sufficient in securing the flavour components, as they cook for a short time.
Also, the emulsion is not emulsified in the pressure cooker, but by passing it through a thin hose under pressure, and the emulsion may not be stable.
It is difficult to see, but if the soup is not emulsified properly, the same soup will taste lighter.
Depending on the consistency, emulsification often breaks down when soup is frozen and defrosted, so if you are concerned, you can compare the taste before and after freezing.
In our schools, we also teach you how to stabilise the emulsion.
However, in these days of labour shortages, more and more people are of the opinion that they have no choice but to use it.
Pork bone soup smells really bad, is there any way to avoid the smell
There are many causes of the odour, the first of which is a lack of freshness control of the bones, in which case the route of obtaining the bones needs to be changed.
The second is inadequate scum removal, and in the case of pork bones, the odour will not disappear unless the scum is continuously removed under strong boiling conditions for about 50 minutes.
Some people use a lot of vegetables, such as cabbage, to remove the odour, but if vegetables are used and the vegetables are boiled for a long time, the vegetable scum will cloud the colour and taste of the broth.
Therefore, if you do not want to get the smell of pork bones, it is important to keep removing the scum for about 50 minutes after boiling, until the scum is completely gone.
Also, when the soup is cooked, pork fat floats on the surface of the soup, but this pork fat contains components of scum and tends to produce odours, so if you do not want to produce odours, do not use the pork fat floating on the surface of the soup, but use clean back oil from which the flavoured oil is separately removed.
However, for special soups such as Hakata tonkotsu, the scum is part of the flavour, so do not discard the pork fat on the surface when the soup is cooked, but mix it in together.
In special cases, such as in the case of Kyushu’s primed soup, the oxidised odour of the fat can also be a problem.
How to cook chicken white soup without the odour
The above-mentioned method of cooking soup without producing odour in the case of pork bones is exactly the same for chicken bones and whole chicken, especially when chicken oil, which floats on the surface of the soup and forms a layer, is added to the soup when cooking chicken bones and whole chicken soup, as this will result in a very smelly soup.
Therefore, when cooking chicken white soup, after the initial boiling, continue to remove the scum on high heat for about 30 minutes, and when the scum stops coming out, then reduce the heat and cook the soup gently until it reaches a certain consistency (2-3°C), using a cooking method that takes clear soup.
A thick layer of chicken oil will then form on the surface of the soup, so remove all of the chicken oil, then switch the heat to high and keep it boiling, which will gradually change the soup from clear to white and increase its density.
If the chicken oil floating on the surface of the soup is not removed and cooked together to make white soup, the result will be white chicken soup with an odour.
Is the pig bone pre-cooked correctly?
Some people underboil pork bones or chicken bones before cooking the soup, but this should never be done.
During the under-boiling process, important extracts are leaked out and the final concentration is not sufficiently high.
In particular, chicken broth should never be done as it is prone to extract leakage.
Some people underboil to remove the odour, but if the scum is removed thoroughly, the odour can be removed.
How to blend double soups
There was a time when blends of animal and seafood-based soups were popular, but care should be taken as the concentration of seafood is usually lower than that of animal-based soups, which can dilute the overall soup, reduce its richness and decrease its taste.
In particular, if you want to also strongly express chicken or pork, the taste and aroma of chicken and pork will be weakened by the blend.
If you want to retain a strong animal flavour as well, there are other effective ways to do this, rather than blending with fish and seafood, which is a specialised technique.
How to prepare chicken bones
Chicken bones require more delicacy in handling than pork bones.
The entrails must always be removed, but especially with chicken bones, the extract from the meat and fat attached around the bones is important, so the time and frequency of washing in water should be reduced as much as possible.
Prolonged exposure to running water or soaking in water will cause the vital extractive content to leach out.
Don't know how to make seafood broth
Seafood soups originate from udon dashi and soba tsuyu, but the methods of making udon dashi and soba tsuyu are completely different.
Udon dashi belongs to the Kansai food culture and is a sweet dashi, with a taste preferred by women.
It is important to use kombu (kelp), thinly shaved zoubushi (dried sardines) and niboshi (dried sardines), and to extract the kelp at temperatures below 60°C (140°F) and the soubushi at below 80°C (140°F).
Most mistakes are made by raising the temperature too high, giving the kelp a bland taste, and the dried knots a bland taste.
Soba-tsuyu, on the other hand, belongs to the Kanto food culture and has a spicy taste, which is preferred by men.
It is made mainly from thickly shaved honkatsuobushi (bonito flakes) and soda katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) rather than thinly shaved flakes, and while the Edo-mae style does not use kombu, the Kansai style may use kombu.
For example, the characteristics of the different types of dried bonito flakes are listed below.
Therefore, the ingredients and cooking methods used differ depending on whether you want the flavour of soba or udon to be combined.
In addition, more and more restaurants are using a lot of niboshi (dried sardines) these days, but the cooking method changes depending on whether you want to retain only the sweet taste of the sardines or whether you want to incorporate the smell of the sardines as well.
If you want to retain only the sweet taste, start with the water and do not raise the water temperature above 60°C.
This is also the same for knots: if you want to bring out the astringent or sour taste or the smell of seafood, you can boil it, but otherwise, never raise the temperature above 80°C.
3. do not know how to make the original sauce
In some cases, students who actually operate ramen restaurants and come to the ramen school made their original sauce using only a blend of soy sauce and chemical seasonings.
Moto-dare, as mentioned in the previous section, is a clear direction of flavour and incorporates a variety of flavour extracts into the basic seasonings.
Here, there is something important, but rarely understood by regular ramen shop owners. There are two types of original soy sauce and miso sauce: raw and fire-roasted, but usually only the fire-roasted type is known to ramen shop owners.
The raw type, on the other hand, has a clear and sharp flavour, so by using both types, a deeper flavour can be created.
Moto-dare (original sauce) was originally adapted from the soba culture of soba-no-kaeshi (buckwheat paste). There are three types of soba-no-kaeshi: hon-kaeshi (fire-roasted), nama-kaeshi (uncooked) and semi-nama-kaeshi (half-roasted). Nama-kaeshi is used for kake-soba, while hon kaeshi is used for kake-soba.
4. do not know how to make flavoured oil
Flavouring oil floats on top of the ramen soup and brings an impact on the flavour of the ramen, but some students who already had a restaurant used animal fats floating in the soup during the process of making the soup as flavouring oil.
However, if this is done, the floating fats dissolve the scum and other impurities in the soup, which makes the soup smell bad.
Therefore, it is important to never use the fat that floats on the surface during the soup making process, but to use the fat made separately.
Aroma is then added with seafood or aromatic vegetables that match the concept of the ramen.
A wide variety of fats and aromatic ingredients are used these days.
In addition to the aroma, paprika powder, matcha powder or spices are increasingly used to add a bright colour to the surface of the soup.
5. ramen soup blends
Once the above soup base, original sauce and flavoured oil have been completed, the final step is to blend the soup.
No matter how high the quality of the soup base, no matter how unique the original sauce, no matter how excellent the flavoured oil, if the final blending fails, no delicious ramen soup will be completed.
The Yamato-style blending technique is a great strength in the final blending.
Over my 17 years of ramen school, I have perfected the technique of blending delicious ramen soups, even without any chemical flavourings.
In teaching blending to my students at the Ramen School once or twice a month, sometimes three times a month, I have found that the following rules are the key to creating a delicious taste.
Completion of a delicious, non-fatty soup
Our ramen school teaches strictly without chemical seasoning or additives.
We have found the know-how to combine delicious flavours without the use of chemical seasonings.
We have developed a naturally brewed vinegar, which we call Kami-no-shizuku, and by using around 2g of this in 300g of soup, we can produce a delicious soup without using chemical seasonings.
Recently, more and more students don’t want to use chemical seasoning, and it has become the norm at our ramen school to use no chemical seasoning, but you can still make a delicious soup with no chemical seasoning.
There are still people today who think they have to use chemical seasonings, but in that case,
1.If you want to keep down the cost of raw materials, or if you want to make a soup that is considered tasty without increasing the raw material cost ratio.
2.If they do not know how to make tasty soups without chemical seasonings.
3.If you believe that you cannot make tasty soups without chemical seasonings.
Many people use chemical seasonings for the above reasons.
The main problem with using chemical seasonings is that the soup is highly salted, but the chemical seasonings mask the salty taste, so when you drink soup that has been chemically seasoned, you want to drink a lot of water afterwards.
This is not a good approach when it comes to the health of the customer.
Blending of the original sauce
We sell a wide range of original sauces, but for our soy sauce and salt original sauces, we have found that the combination of clams, scallops and shrimps is a golden combination.
When we combine these three types of ingredients in our soups, it is very easy to put together, and we always use this combination to make our salt, shoyu and miso ramen.
And it is easy to put together without any complications.
Many of the students who attend the ramen school use many different kinds of original sauce and do complicated things, but in the end the flavours often don’t come together.
Golden Taste Equation
At our ramen school, we have created and have a large database of different taste equations, ranging from traditional Chinese noodles with a low, clear soup consistency, to tonkotsu, chicken white soup, seafood, thick seafood, miso, spicy miso and completely organic.
Thus, we have the know-how to meet any request from our students.
And recently, we have introduced a taste sensor, a device that can digitally measure the subtle differences in human taste, and we are constantly taking delicate data on taste.
If you have not yet come to our ramen school, or if you have come in the past but want to raise the bar again, we strongly recommend that you attend to acquire the latest know-how.
Continued in Chapter 4: The essence of winning ramen shops.