Not all noodles are ramen, unless you are a dumbass
I had no clue that within the Denver metro area, they have bison roaming about although the reason why I brought this up is that many call them buffalo, and they are not. They mistakenly get called that because early settlers had thought they looked like the Asian Water buffalo or the African Cape buffalo. Now decades later, Americans are doing the same thing to ramen noodles (we love misnomers) because many food producers are now calling any and all instant noodles, ramen.
What is Ramen
Ramen is specific type of noodle and in Japan it is paired with regional soup stocks (shoyu, shio, to miso).
Fresh Ramen Noodle Ingredients
- Wheat flour
Without Some Form of Kansui, You Don’t Have Ramen
Kansui is an alkaline (mineral) water which typically contains:
- Sodium carbonate.
- Usually potassium carbonate.
- Sometimes a bit of phosphoric acid.
Kansui is what gives ramen noodles their most distinctive characteristics from the color (yellowish hue), to the springiness, firm texture, and chew.
SIDENOTE: I have seen numerous home chefs bake baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to increase the PH to produce a kansui substitute, and I recommend this article by the NY Times and one of my favorite YouTubers, French dude, Alex.
Additional Ingredients Found in Some Instant Noodles/Ramen
- Oil – Palm oil is a commonly used for fried noodles in the dehydration process for instant noodles.
- Starches – Potato starches are commonly added to enhance gelling properties.
- Polyphosphates – is added to improve starch gelatinization during cooking (rehydration).
- Hydrocolloids – Guar gum are widely used to enhance water binding capacity during rehydration and shorten cooking time.
If you want to know which each one of these ingredients do, you will have to go to Wikipedia.org for their in-depth article.
How Instant Ramen Brands Compare
- Maruchan Ramen Noodles: Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced Iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), vegetable oil (contains one or more of the following: canola, cottonseed, palm), preserved by tbhq, salt, potassium carbonate, soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt), sodium phosphate, sodium carbonate, turmeric.
- Myojo Chukazanmai: Wheat flour, starch (potato and tapioca), salt, palm oil, sodium carbonate, sodium metaphosphate, potassium carbonate, alginic acid, sodium tripolyphosphate and guar gum.
- Sapporo Momosan Noodles: Wheat flour, modified starch (potato, tapioca), salt, sodium carbonate, sodium tripolyphosphate, mono-and-diglycerides, sodium pyrophosphate, tocopherols.
- Sapporo Noodles: Enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), palm oil (tbhq & citric acid added to protect flavor), tapioca starch.
- Nissin Raoh Noodles: Wheat flour, modified food starch, salt , calcium carbonate, potassium carbonate, sodium carbonate, and sodium tripolyphosphate (*not sure if this is all the ingredients just for the noodles).
- Nissin Top Ramen Noodles: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), salt, potassium carbonate, sodium alginate, sodium carbonate, and sodium tripolyphosphate (*not sure if this is all the ingredients just for the noodles).
- Sun Noodles: Wheat flour, water, vital wheat gluten, salt, sodium carbonate, potassium carbonate, riboflavin (vitamin B2).
Instant Noodles Versus Ramen
If you are a gun guy/girl, you know the difference between a clip and a magazine, which to the vast majority of people just don’t care. Although that same attitude is the same for instant noodles and ramen, there is a clear difference between the two, but a lot will continue to blur the two together, yet they won’t call dry pasta instant ramen because that’s European silly.