As instant noodles and ramen starts to grow its popularity in the international market, one must identify the differences between these two noodles. In the American context, “ramen” is mistakenly described as a general term to describe instant noodles. While ramen-flavored instant noodles had won the hearts of American foodies, this is not still similar to traditional ramen.
Authentic ramen is originally made with fresh noodles mixed with kansui. This alkaline solution is responsible for the springy, bouncy bite of your ramen noodles. The best way to differentiate instant noodles from ramen is to know their variants, preparation, and duration.
Are Ramen Noodles Worse Than Regular Noodles?
Instant noodles, or “ramen noodles” for American consumers, are ideally worse than authentic ramen and regular noodles. Ramen noodles are inexpensive and could be prepared by anyone with minimal cooking skills. It also appeals to people who are short on budget and on time. This dorm staple also has a long shelf life, making it easier to store.
But when it comes to the health risk, instant noodles are not a healthy choice. It might be a convenient item to have in anyone’s kitchen, but it can produce risk in nutritional content. Ramen noodles might have a low-calorie count, but it lacks critical nutrients to become a healthy alternative.
A single serving of ramen noodles has the following contents:
- Calories: 188 kcal
- Carbs: 27 grams
- Total fat: 7 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sodium: 891 mg
Other nutrients found on instant noodles like iron and B vitamins are synthetically mixed into the ramen noodles. It also lacks essential nutrients for growth and development like vitamin A, C, B12; calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Dried vegetables and meats mixed into the packaged noodles are limited with the necessary antioxidants and phytochemicals essential in maintaining the body’s immunity.
Additionally, instant food has high sodium, TBHQ, and MSG contents that can induce complications like stomach cancer, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.
- Excessive sodium intake will cause an increase in blood pressure that can be harmful to your heart and kidneys. One pack of instant ramen noodles contains 88% of the daily sodium content suggested by WHO.
- MSG or monosodium glutamate is a compound found on several foods that provides the necessary umami flavor to your food. Several people have allergic reactions to MSG and may lead to complications like headaches, muscle tightness, nausea, and skin flushing.
- TBHQ or tertiary butylhydroquinone is a form of preservative responsible for prolonging several processed foods’ shelf life. Chronic consumption of foods containing this compound may increase the risk of lymphoma, liver enlargement, and even neurological damage.
The best way to make instant noodles healthier is by incorporating vegetables, proteins, and seafood into the stock to reduce sodium intake. But if doable, you may resort to eating authentic ramen noodles by making your very own noodle dough.
Is Ramen A Noodle or A Soup?
Ramen (ラーメン) is a dish that was originally imported from China but gained its highest recognition in Japan. This inexpensive meal is widely available in Asian restaurants. At the same time, instant noodle variants (which is called “ramen noodles” by the American population) is still consumed by people who share the same passion for noodles.
To reduce confusion, the one discussed in this manner is the authentic ramen noodles, the Japanese ramen. Ramen restaurants or ramen-ya can be found placed inside and outside of Japan. Every restaurant offers its variation of ramen, with a variation on the soup base and protein.
- Shoyu ramen is a clear chicken broth that is flavored with light soy sauce. Other regions add other proteins like fish, pork, and beef.
- Shio ramen is another clear soup that is seasoned with salt. Like shoyu ramen, shio ramen is made with chicken—but it can be mixed with other proteins like pork and beef.
- Hokkaido ramen is a variant made by mixing miso into the stock. Miso is a thick soybean paste that provides the whole volume of flavor and aroma. This provides a heartier, thicker sauce than other variants.
- Tonkotsu ramen is one of the thickest soups available in the market. Large bulks of pork bones are boiled down for long hours until it produces a thick, cloudy white broth. This thick soup is flavored with pork fat and chicken broth.
Ramen is considered a form of noodle soup. This means that this variant of soup is mixed with noodles. Unlike pasta soup, noodle soup is immersed with rich stocks and standard toppings like boiled eggs, dried meat, seaweed, corn, and leeks. Ramen noodle is available in the market, and it is known for its rich egg flavor and medium-sized thickness.
What Noodles Are Similar to Ramen?
Asian noodles, or what others perceive as the “Asian method of creating pasta,” has lived on through the years, thanks to its frugal means to provide meals for students and workers. Unlike pasta made with a single flour variant, noodles can taste different from one area from another. The vast application of the change of flavor profiles is due to the material, egg ratio, and methods use to create the noodles.
In this current time, ramen noodles had gained international popularity and are infused with flavors from other countries. Different countries and regions all over nations have their take with ramen noodles. Other noodle variants like soba and udon are also racing with ramen noodles’ status.
- Like pasta noodles, ramen noodles are typically made with wheat flour. The only apparent difference between ramen and pasta is the alkaline mixed on the ramen’s dough. This provides the necessary bite and bounciness from the ramen.
- Soba noodles, on the other hand, are made with a different material: buckwheat flour. This flour has a dark color and has a brownish-gray appearance. Soba noodles are thick and can provide firm flavor profiles to your soup. Aside from soup, soba noodles can also be stir-fried.
- Like ramen, udon is made with wheat flour. However, this dough is eggless—creating a white sheer on it. Udon noodles have the thickest cut among the noodle variants, and they can be mixed on soup or stir-fried. This works perfectly with meat, tempura, and seasonal vegetables.