The Japanese word Ramen has been derived from the Japanese words “la” (pull) and “mian” (noodles). According to Eve Kushner, the author of Crazy for Kanji this name was given because the Chinese noodles were pulled by hand. Ramen’s popularity can be credited to political and economic unrest on global scale. George Solt reveals how black marketing of cheap quality wheat during U.S. occupation in Japan (1945-1952) and economic stagnation (1900s-2000s) contributed in making ramen as national dish. In 1958, Nissin foods reintroduced ramen in packaged instant version and brought Top Ramen to USA in 1970.
Before it first appeared in Japan in 1910, it was a Chinese signature dish created at Tokyo’s Rairaiken restaurant. This signature dish comprises of chicken broth and chicken noodles. Their dough was knead with Kansu which is a sodium-carbonate infused alkaline mineral water. These were yellow and more elastic than Japanese noodles.
Today, Ramen comes in different shapes and lengths. There soup is generally made of stock made up of chicken or beef bones, niboshi (dried baby sardines), shiitake and onions and are flavored by soy sauce, salt or miso. They’re topped with a type of scallion which is finely chopped (neggi) and fermented bamboo shoots (menma), boiled egg, bean sprouts and deep fried scallion. Ramen can also be stuffed into tortillas, baked into pudding, dipped in salsa or chopped into trail mix. Ramen nowadays is not just in instant packaging but it can be found everywhere with a minor regional variations