This umami filled shio ramen just never disappoints. Delicious and authentic Japanese ramen made from scratch. Quick and easy, this is loved in Japanese homes everywhere!
Making shio ramen at home is super popular in Japan. It’s a relatively clear soup based on a delicious shio (salt) ramen flavor, topped with ramen eggs. It’s the perfect comfort food with a simple and delicate aroma. Homemade shio ramen has been widely enjoyed in Japan.
What is Shio Ramen?
Shio means salt in Japanese. Using mineral rich sea salt is a must for an authentic shio based ramen. Shio is the main flavor enhancer for this ramen soup. Sea salt is used for literary any dish in Japan, including ice cream! As an island, almost all the salt in Japan comes from the sea.
The typical shio ramen uses vegetable and chicken broth. Toasted sesame seeds are standard - and add richness to the shio ramen soup. Corn, leek and bamboo shoots are also common. I also like to add a slice of butter that melts on the corn – delicious!
Sapporo Ichiban, is Japan's long-selling shio ramen instant noodle. (source) No doubt such instant ramen has contributed to bringing shio ramen to the world. However, there really is no need to eat instant ramen when you can make it readily at home.
Why You Will Love This Shio Based Ramen
My mission here is to guide you through making an authentic ramen with a shio broth made by Japanese dashi.
I tried lots of different vegetable broth recipes, but they simply didn’t work for ramen. Japanese dashi is the best way to create an authentic ramen flavour. And of course, salt is the star of this dish!
Andy and I enjoy food documentary videos on Netflix. In "Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat", Samin Nosrat, an American chef, says the single and most important element in good cooking is salt. She visited Japan and investigated how Japanese sea salt is actually made – extracting it from kelp.
You can appreciate how such salt brings the umami to a dish. Salt just brings out the natural flavor of vegetables and enhances it.
Note: this shio soup ramen recipe uses plant based ramen broth, and not using bone broth-based tonkotsu ramen. The rich taste and ingredients of this simple ramen are all vegetarian goodness! Read on!
Ingredients for Shio Ramen
Finding right sea salt and fresh ingredients are the key to success in this shio flavour ramen recipe! These ingredients are available from local Japanese grocery stores or Amazon.
A little bit of preparation is all that’s required for this recipe. It’s worth finding right sea salt and fresh ingredients You should be able to get most of these from any good grocery store, but the rest will be easily available from local Japanese grocery stores or Amazon.
Shio ramen soup
Shio (salt): This ramen sauce is based on shio (salt) flavour. I've found sea salt is the best, and I use Japanese sea salt. Any good sea salt works perfectly well, but if you see the Japanese one, grab it. Good quality Japanese sea salt is made with seaweed. Hence it's mineral rich and brings the natural sweetness. This umami contained sea salt enriches the taste of vegetables. Using a good quality sea salt in ramen noodles is vital.
Sesame Seeds: For shio ramen, sesame seeds are best. Toasting them on a small pan adds more flavor. As soon as sesame seeds make a noise on the pan, transfer them onto a plate as you don’t want to burn them. Toasted sesame seeds add depth to the soup with a rich, smokey flavour.
Sesame Oil: Sesame oil gives a strong flavor. I add it to vegetable oil. The reason I do this is if you use only sesame oil, the flavor is too strong. Shio ramen's delicate flavor will disappear. I like to use corn, canola or avocado oil with it. But any type of vegetable oil works. Use only toasted sesame oil which is perfect for ramen. The yellow colored sesame oil is not toasted and has less flavor.
Ramen broth: You can use any ramen broth you fancy. I use my homemade ramen broth. It's plant based and is made with Japanese kombu and shiitake dashi. It's delicious and easy to make. You can save a lot of time.
On Japanese Ingredients
Japanese Sake: Sake induces umami from the dashi and creates a harmony with soy sauce, mirin and dashi. It's magical! You can use it for many other dishes such as teriyaki sauce or other types of vegetable cooking. I use an everyday drinking sake.
Mirin: Mirin is a secret weapon in Japanese cooking. It's a kind of rice wine and creates a strong umami. It adds sweetness but contains no sugar. Sugar cannot replace it's magical umami flavor. You can use mirin for teriyaki sauce, salad dressing, soup and much more!
Menma: this pickled bamboo shoot is a secret weapon for ramen. You can find it at Japanese or Asian grocery store. This member is optional but you can tell the differences. It adds a strong savory flavor to this shio ramen.
Ramen: I use fresh eggless noodles from the shop. You can use either fresh or dried noodles. Even the eggless noodle has a yellowy colour. That's normal. Good ramen noodle contains kansui. When it's combined with flour, it turns yellow due to the alkaline water.
Ramen noodle has three different thickness levels from thin, middle to thick. This shio ramen works with any thickness noodle. I use the thin or middle.
How to Make Shio Ramen
This shio ramen noodle has three components:
- Shio ramen topping
- Shio ramen soup
- Ramen noodle
Each component needs to be prepared and cooked in order. Then they are transferred into a delicious ramen noodle bowl together beautifully. You will master this!
1. Preparing shio ramen topping
You can add any vegetables for the ramen topping. Good quality salt induces the taste of vegetables and induces its flavor. I like sprouts, bok choy, wakame (sea weed), spinach, spring onions, leek or bamboo shoots for ramen.
My favorite topping for this shio ramen is corns. I also added a fried lotus root chip. You will find it at Japanese or Asian grocery shops. It's delicious! You can also add shiitake mushroom you used for dashi.
2. Making shio ramen soup
Ramen sauce is made separately from the ramen soup, and is blended with the ramen soup towards the end.
You can use any ramen broth you prefer. I add my homemade ramen broth which is made with Japanese dashi.
Dashi is a broth used as the base for almost so much Japanese food. It's commonly made with kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, anchovies and bonito flake.
And, my ramen broth is made with kombu and dried shiitake. They induces umami substance perfectly well and are both plant based ingredients. You can save a lot of time for it too!
The purpose is to transfer the flavor of the sea salt and spring onions into the oil. This process is key to making the rich flavored shio ramen soup.
3. Ramen noodle
Boil water in a large pan. This helps the ramen noodles not clump together. Do not cook the noodle in the prepared ramen soup. Once cooked, drain the water completely and transfer some of it into your serving bowl (this is just to heat up the bowl before serving). I tend to cook the noodle a tiny bit less time than the instruction indicates so that a good/firm texture is maintained.
4. Blending and layering ramen
So, you’ve cooked and prepared the ramen toppings and the shio ramen soup. And the ramen noodle is ready to serve. Now it needs a bit of focus. They need to be handled quickly but surely:
- Pour out the boiled water from your serving bowl.
- Add the boiled dashi into it the shio ramen sauce.
- Then pour the sauce and dashi into the bowl. Add the cooked noodle and top off with the vegetable ingredients.
That's it! Serve immediately and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Shio Ramen
The best toppings for shio ramen
You can use pretty much any vegetables and toppings. Sesame seeds are essential for this shio ramen! This is the way I’ve enjoyed it since I was kid.
All the vegetables and condiment for the ramen topping need to be cooked. Be ready before the ramen soup and ramen noodles are cooked. This way you can serve a hot ramen noodle. A cold and over cooked ramen noodle is not tasty.
Shio vs shoyu Ramen
Shio (salt) ramen and shoyu (soy sauce) ramen are Japan's two most popular ramen noodles. The differences between shio based ramen and soy sauce based ramen can be found in their colors, flavours and taste.
Shio ramen soup has a clear yellow color. It works well with vegetable toppings. Shoyu ramen is made with soy sauce broth. It's light brown colored, and is often served with meat. The savory flavor is more apparent than shio ramen. Shio ramen soup is more delicate, lighter and more flexible to enjoy with any topping.
Gluten-free shio ramen
You can easily adopt this shio ramen recipe to a gluten-free version, which I make for my family. Simply use gluten-free noodle. I use rice noodle.
Also make sure that you use gluten-free soy sauce. I prefer not tamari but gluten-free koikuchi shoyu for this recipe. My favourite is koikuchi (dark coloured) soy sauce from Kikkoman, Japanese's leading soy sauce brand. Other ingredients are all gluten-free in this recipe.
MIKLIA collection for ramen recipes:
Toppings & Ramen Noodles
- 1 ramen noodle
- 1 ramen egg
- 1 tablespoon corn
- 1 tablespoon menma (preserved bamboo shoots)
- 1 tablespoon spring onion shredded
- 1 ramen egg
Shio Ramen Soup
- 1 tablespoon corn oil (or any vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1½ tablespoon spring onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds grinded
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1¾ cup ramen broth*
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons Japanese sake
- 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
- Vegetables need to be ready for the ramen topping. You will place the ingredients as soon as the ramen noodle is cooked.
Shio Ramen Soup
- Sauté ginger, spring onions, salt and grinded sesame seeds on a pan with the sesame and vegetable oils at the lowest heat for about 3 minutes. Do not burn the ingredients. Once cooked, turn off the heat. Then add onion powder. Combine the ingredients with a spatula or chop sticks. Turn off the heat. Set aside.
- Boil the water in the large pan. Transfer some boiled water into the ramen bowl to keep it warm while the noodles cook in the pan. Gently separate the noodles in your hands. Add the noodles into the boiling water in the pan and cook as per instructions. Drain the noodles with a strainer.
Blending and Layering All Together
- Transfer ramen broth into the cooked ginger, spring onion and sea salt saucepan. Turn on the heat, add sake, onion powder and mirin and gently stair the ramen soup.
- Remove hot water from the ramen bowl and put the cooked noodles in it. Then pour boiled ramen soup into the bowl. Add vegetables, toppings or condiments.Serve immediately! Enjoy! Sprinkle black pepper and sesame seeds while you enjoy.