Ramen noodles are a derivative of Chinese lamian, which were pulled noodles brought to Japan sometime between the 18th and early 20th centuries. They were initially sometimes called shina soba, meaning "Chinese wheat noodles". They became widely popular after World War II, when the American occupation imported large amounts of wheat.
Ramen are long and thin, made from wheat flour and containing an alkaline solution called kansui that gives them a springy texture and yellow color. They can be straight or curly, and they tend to be approximately 1.5 mm thick. The noodles are available in fresh, dried, and instant varieties. Instant ramen noodles are par-cooked and then dehydrated either by drying or deep-frying.
Procurement and storage edit
Instant ramen noodles have become widespread, and they are common at standard grocery stores outside of Japan. Dried and fresh ramen noodles are more limited to specialty Asian grocers in the Western world, and they will have a larger selection.
Fresh noodles can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer, while dried and instant varieties have a very long shelf-life at room temperature.
Ramen noodles are primarily used in ramen soup, of which there are many varieties. The noodles are briefly boiled and drained before adding to the soup along with various toppings. The longer the noodles sit in the broth, the mushier they will get—as a result, the noodles should be eaten relatively quickly after the soup is assembled.
Different types of ramen noodle are sometimes used for specific types of ramen. For example, straight noodles are often served with heartier, richer broths, while wavy noodles may be served with miso ramen.
Ramen noodles in soup
A block of instant ramen noodles
Fresh wavy ramen noodles