To slurp or not to slurp, that is the question.￼ Forget sushi, yakitori, and tempura, ramen is what really gets the Japanese excited. Like most things they turn their hands to (sushi, ceramics, and swords), they don't do it half-heartedly; they master it like an art form.
I'd love to tell you my slurping abilities were masterful, but really I just lean (or hunch) into a big bowl and inhale. Slurping is both necessary for maximum enjoyment and (apparently) the sign of a connoisseur. I get messy, let me tell you, so the bibs that are sometimes provided to amateurs like myself become pretty necessary. Are they to mock me or avoid stains? I shall never know. It just makes the splash back ever more victorious.
Mbg's food editor Leah Vanderveldt is a huge fan of ramen bowls. "Ramen is a fantastic way to build your immunity because it's made with warming spices, restorative broth, and iodine-rich seaweed. But best of all, it's something we actually want to eat big heaping bowls of."
Noodles and toppings are paramount in the ramen formula, but the broth is undoubtedly the soul of the bowl, there to unite the disparate tastes and textures at work in the dish. One of my favorite styles of ramen is the tsukumen (dipping-style), because the noodles are extra thick and chewy. I haphazardly pick up a tumble with my chopsticks and dip in. And of course I lose myself in the slurping contemplation of a bottomless bowl of sustenance. Really loudly. Because it often feels like I'm swallowing generations worth of simmering. How epic is that?
Next stop? Tsuta, a tiny abode tucked down a side street in Sugamo, Tokyo's northern suburbs, and the only ramen shop in the world to be awarded a Michelin star. Slurping my way through Japan? Hell yes. One bowl at a time.
Immune-Boosting Ramen Bowl
Abigail Keeso is a registered nurse, culinary nutrition expert, and co-founder of That Clean Life, a platform that makes eating healthy simple and fun. Here's her version of an immune-boosting ramen bowl to set you up for fall and beyond.
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups organic vegetable broth
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or more for flavor)
- 4 servings brown rice noodles
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional)
- hot sauce or chili flakes (optional)
1. Hard-boil your eggs by placing them in a pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, set your timer for 4 minutes for a soft yolk or 6 to 8 minutes if you like the yolk cooked through. Remove the eggs from the water when they are done. Place them in a bowl of ice water and set aside.
2. Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant and then pour in the veggie broth. Add the mushrooms and tamari. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
3. Add the brown rice noodles and cook for 7 minutes or until al dente.
4. Set the broccoli on top of the liquid and steam for 3 to 4 minutes or until bright green.
5. Set the baby spinach on top and steam for 1 to 2 minutes or until wilted. Turn off the heat.
6. Peel your eggs and slice them in half. Ladle your soup into bowls and top with corn, green onion, and egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and add Tabasco sauce or red chili flakes if you like it spicy. Enjoy!