When dining at a steakhouse, how well do you like your steak to be cooked? Juicy, blood-dripping rare or fragrantly cooked well-done, or medium rare. It feels like the level of deliciousness increases by cooking the meat to your desired doneness. Not many cooking gives this option to select the doneness when ordering.
For ramen, there are places you can choose the hardness of the noodles when cooked. This method of adjusting the hardness of noodle is based on the time being cooked, and it’s rare to find noodle dishes that lets you control its hardness depending on the cooking time. Some of the ramen with this method includes Tonkotsu ramen in northern Kyushu Hakata, and Iekei ramen from Yokohama not too far away from Tokyo.
Hakata ramen uses Tonkotsu soup with thin noodles that are low in water content. Hakata ramen has many kinds of hardness of noodles. For hard noodles, there are katame (hard), Bari-kata (Bari meaning very), Harigane (meaning hard wire, hard like a wire), Konaotoshi (meaning cooking for a very short time to cook off the kona, or the powder of the noodles) and Yugedoshi (to just let the noodles go through yuge or the steam only).
For Iekei ramen you can choose the hardness of the noodles, richness of the soup, and amount of oil. Usually referred as Tonkotsu Shoyu ramen (broth from pork and shoyu) but their soup usually has chicken bone broth as well. Iekei ramen has the broth paired with flat noodles, Shoyu sauce, and chicken oil.
On the other end, there are ramen creators that are particular to their creations. They use the hardness of noodles and flavorful-ness that are considered to be the best by its creators. Usually it’s not possible to customize the taste for these kind of ramen. Many of the places that serve these ramen are more exquisite in taste. Too much cooking can cause the soup to mix with the powder from the noodles to be cloudy, and too much sauce and oil can diminish the umami and fragrance of the refined soup.
Personally there should be a right amount of cooking time for the noodles. The deliciousness of the noodles are brought out by the core of the noodles being present or lack thereof. Also if the noodles are undercooked it could cause problem for digesting because humans cannot digest the starch from raw flour.
But it’s true that the bowl of ramen you customized will be a special bowl. Because people have different taste buds, it doesn’t necessarily mean the creators always come up with the ideal taste for the consumers. Also since you’re adding the customization it means a lot to you that you were part of the creation. For anyone, making your own creation means giving a sense of affection. It goes without saying that it elevates the deliciousness by choosing the ideal hardness of noodles and thickness of the soup along with adding your favorite topping.
Either way, enjoying your bowl of ramen depends on how the person want it. However as an input, the delicate taste of Shio ramen or Shoyu ramen with chicken and seafood based soup should be paired with fully cooked noodles. This way, fragrance of the soup could be enjoyed at its full extent. To pair with hard noodles should be flavor-rich Tonkotsu ramen. Usually the powder of the noodles mixes with the soup but the rich soup will overcome the mixing.
Ramen Hero has different kinds of soup and noodles to go along with each other. As you refer to the previous article of how to cook the noodles with right amount of time, enjoy finding your preference of hardness. In that process of enjoyment it definitely will reconsider they way you think what it means to have a delicious ramen when dining at a ramen restaurant.