In a new series of blogs for 2017 we’re bringing food operators the latest trends for the on-the-go food market. From Acai bowls and Poke, to Bao burgers and rolled ice-cream – we’ll be taking a close look at the must-have dishes essential for any 2017 take-out menu; and we’ll be exploring why these dishes have risen to popularity so quickly.
A world away from the packets of instant ramen noodles that you find on the shelves of supermarkets, global ramen provides a harmony of comforting and delicately subtle flavours to create a wholesome dish that has been aptly named ‘the soul food of Japan’. Appealing to all taste palettes and enjoyed by people from all walks of life, the versatility of ramen creates a highly adaptable dish that allows chefs to get creative with their flavours. As a meal served in a bowl, global ramen joins the trend of ‘bowl foods’ along with other delicious favourites, such as smoothie bowls, acai bowls and poke. Bowl foods are highly photogenic, easy to hold and generally healthy.
There’s debate around the origin of global ramen, with recipes stemming from both China and Japan, leading to a plethora of methods and ingredients. Generally there are four main variations:
Tonkotsu: One of the most popular ramen styles, with broth made from pork bones. This style is especially enjoyed in southern Japan where they tend to prefer richer flavours.
Shoyu: This variety features plenty of soy sauce for a tangy, salty, savoury taste that pulls all your favourite umami flavours into one dish.
Shio: Probably the oldest type of ramen, shio is made with salt and any combination of chicken, vegetables, fish or seaweed.
Miso: Joining the ramen family in the 1960s, this style utilises miso paste to create a thicker, nutty, slightly sweet soup. This type of ramen is most popular in the northern part of Japan.
Essentially, each bowl of ramen is built on five components; the broth, the oil, the noodles, the toppings, and the tare (seasonings).
Chefs take great pride in the way they create the dish, with some simmering their broth for many hours and others making each noodle by hand. ‘Build your own’ ramen is also increasing in popularity , with restaurants creating a base broth and allowing consumers to add vegetables, meats and even a soft-cooked egg to top off their bowl.
Although most traditional ramen includes meat in the broth, chefs are also experimenting with vegetarian ramen, using mushrooms, seaweed, and miso paste to create flavours that rival the complex flavours of meat-filled counterparts.
Did you know that there is actually a ‘correct’ way to eat ramen? Starting with your chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in the other, you should ideally eat ramen hunched right over the bowl. Diners are encouraged to audibly slurp the noodles, sucking in broth for flavour and some air at the same time to cool it down; slurping is said to be the sign of a true connoisseur.
Ramen has been extremely popular in Japan for many years and can be purchased from street vendors and restaurants across the country. There’s even a ramen museum in the city of Yokohama. But over the last few years authentic ramen styles can now be seen at foodservice sites all around the world. Here in the UK, 2017 brings a great opportunity for chefs to add this delicious delicacy to their menus, either with traditional flavours, or by stepping slightly outside the box and providing a signature unique variety.
With the right packaging choice, ramen isn’t just for your eat-in customers. Here at Bunzl Catering Supplies we have a great range of packaging options to suit a wide variety of dishes on-the-go – including dishes which are served piping hot and have liquid content, like ramen. Our serving options for global ramen include white hot food containers, with white paper or plastic lids, and our microwavable Kraft C-Vis pots with clear PET lids – which allows the customer to see their ramen without lifting the lid. Why not offer your customers a ‘chork’ – a double ended eating utensil, with chopsticks on one side and a fork on the other, perfect for tackling those tricky noodles!