If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that the rules to good ramen are pretty fluid. There are traditions and guidelines we all try to follow, but so many people from so many different regions have put their own spin on ramen that it’s impossible to put anything into strict categories.
That doesn’t mean we’re not going to take the opportunity to teach you as much as we can about the basics of ramen and its history. So today we’re going to go over the three major things to pay attention to when you’re tasting ramen broth. It’s the base of the whole dish, so it’s definitely important.
First, it’s important to know the different kind of bases that are used to create the broth. The classification of the kind of broth it is largely depends on what was simmered (and for how long) to make the soup. The ingredients can range from animal bones (mostly from pork, chicken, beef or fresh fish) to sea kelp. The flavor profile the chef will include in the ramen largely depends on the kind of broth they make.
Beyond the broth base, you can classify the broths by heaviness. It’s also the easiest way to classify broth because you can make a good guess just by looking at the bowl.
Broth heaviness is classified as kotteri (rich) or assari (light). Pretty easy to remember, right?
Kotteri broths will be thick, sticky and usually opaque in nature. Their opacity occurs because these broths are packed with minerals, emulsified fats and proteins from long-boiled bones. Like we mentioned before, there is a large spectrum of ramen types, but usually you’ll find the kotteri broths in the Sapporo-style miso ramen.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the assari, or light broths. This broth are clear and thin and usually flavored with more vegetables and fish. If they’re flavored with bones, they are usually cooked very briefly at a light simmer so their proteins don’t cloud the broth.
Each of these types (and all the kinds in between) are delicious in their own way. The work together with the other ramen ingredients to bring a full flavor and experience for everyone who eats them.
Come into Noodle Bar Phoenix to spot the differences in our ramen broths anytime! We’d be happy to talk more about them.