As ramen noodles began to expand away from their Asian roots, it is essential to identify that ramen noodles are not the same as what the Americans conceive. Instant noodles named “ramen” by several manufacturers are not the same as traditional ramen. Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that is made with hand-pulled wheat noodles in a particular stock. This is later on topped with bamboo shoots, slices of barbecue pork, scallions, and egg.
Italian spaghetti, or known as pasta, is primarily made with durum wheat flour. This gives the spaghetti noodles the proper elasticity when cooked with sauce. Due to their similar shape, ramen and spaghetti noodles are mistakenly considered as a single variant.
What is the Difference Between Ramen and Spaghetti?
Nowadays, Asian versions of “spaghetti-style pasta” have been all around the world. This variant, commonly mixed with different starch sources and egg rations—is loved by the Western communities. These spaghetti-shaped noodles can be done using the following flour: millet, rice, mung bean, acorns, and wheat flour.
The best-known recipe for this noodle, called ramen, is receiving recognition by the European and American countries. This noodle soup shaped like spaghetti is quickly blanched in boiling water before it is served with broth. Every district in Japan has its variation of ramen broth: miso-based, fish stock, vegetable stock, and bone marrow.
What is Japanese ramen?
- Ramen is commonly made with soft wheat flour. Several variants of this noodle dish contain high egg content, making it fluffier than the standard variant.
- Authentic ramen is made by hand and not dried. Artisans are using the extent of their knowledge to create ramen strands using their bare hands.
- Ramen’s diameter depends on the type and soup stock you are using. Thicker soups like miso-based require thicker strands, while thinner variants like a chicken stock can use more delicate noodle strands.
- Cooking ramen doesn’t have a concept of al dente and could be still be consumed despite expanded.
- Ramen is considered not only street food but also as a complete meal.
What is Italian spaghetti?
- Spaghetti is generally made with durum wheat flour. Gluten-free variants use starches made with corn and rice to emulate the grainy, wheat texture.
- Italian-made spaghetti is extruded on steel or bronze die. Handmade variants are created on small portions and served in exceptional restaurants.
- If used as ramen, Italian spaghetti is created by cutting strips using the actual pasta dough. Dried pasta can also be utilized in the form of ramen by cooking it with on baking soda solution.
- Generally, Italian spaghetti doesn’t use eggs on its dough. It is usually mixed with flour and water alone. This is to retain the flour’s elastic taste while preventing it from overcooking.
- All types of pasta must be cooked al dente. This texture may vary depending on how thin or how thick the pasta is.
- Unlike ramen, pasta is served mainly on fine dining—and placed on the main course.
Is Ramen Like Pasta?
When it comes to pasta and ramen differences, you can quickly differentiate by identifying these crucial changes. In a general sense, ramen is not considered a form of pasta. Listed below are the apparent variations:
- Pasta is a form of Italian cuisine, while ramen is Japanese food. Pasta and noodles are used interchangeably, but it has a different definition. Noodles have more eggs and use other starch sources. Pasta uses a single wheat-based flour, and it has different shapes.
- Pasta uses thick sauces, while the soup is used for ramen noodles. Ramen is served with other components like meat, fish, broth, and tare. Tare is a Japanese sauce made with shoyu, shio, and miso.
- Pasta and ramen use different ingredients. Ramen noodles are made with a starch source with kansui, an alkaline solution that gives its known chewiness. On the other hand, pasta is created by a mixture of durum wheat flour, water, and sometimes eggs.
- Pasta and ramen both use flour as a starch source. However, ramen noodles can be created using a wide array of flour, while spaghetti pasta only uses durum wheat flour. Other manufacturers use rice and corn mill to emulate the wheat’s grainy texture due to its high gluten content.
- Pasta variants are available in numerous shapes and sizes. There are around 300+ types of pasta on the market. Well-known shapes are spaghetti, bucatini, penne, ravioli, lasagna, and fusilli. Ramen noodles could be flat, wavy, or elliptical, with only five variations of sizes.
- Only pasta has the concept of al dente. This is a term to define to cook the core of the pasta hard and works with dry variants. Since authentic ramen noodles are created fresh, it only requires a shorter cooking time.
- Dried ramen or those purchased in the form of instant noodles are deep-fried in oil. On the other hand, pasta is air-dried to rehydrate it, and it does require frying. This is not considered authentic ramen noodles, but it gained popularity in Western countries due to its quick-cook food.
- Since ramen noodles use broth to serve the noodles, it is commonly served with toppings. Popular ramen toppings included mushroom, onion, chashu, menma, nori, green onion, and ajitama.
Can You Use Spaghetti for Ramen?
If you are craving some quick ramen but doesn’t have the noodle on your hand, you may still create your soup—by using your dried spaghetti pasta. Japanese household uses a method of cooking store-bought pasta in a baking powder solution. This reduces the time of creating your dough.
Baking soda is a form of alkaline which emulates the authentic ramen noodle. Ramen noodles use kansui, a form of alkaline that gives the dough this yellowish tint and springy bite. Kansui can be challenging to find outside Asian countries—making ramen noodles hard to create.
Another trick in using the “baking soda on boiling water” technique is baking soda to place. It may be sound untrue since Kansai is mixed on the actual dough. However, baking soda is enough to transform your white spaghetti noodles into yellowish, springy pasta.
To recreate this recipe, you may follow these simple instructions:
- Gather the following utensils and ingredients: boiling pot, water, baking soda, salt, and spaghetti pasta.
- Allow the water to boil rapidly. Slowly place two tablespoons of baking soda and season it with salt. Allow the boiling water to melt the baking soda and salt. Stir if necessary.
- Place your favorite spaghetti variant. Thinner variants like angel hair and spaghettini require smaller amounts of baking soda. Thicker pasta like spaghetti and fettuccine needs more amount of baking soda.
- Cook your pasta according to your preferences, or you may use the instructed cooking time on your pasta’s packaging. The baking soda placed on boiling water may start to foam due to its alkaline content.
- Watch how your pasta noodles began transforming into a yellowish-tint, a known indicator that it has a good amount of alkaline. After cooking, strain your pasta and quickly rinse it with cold water.
- Coldwater reduces the baking soda residue to prevent a mineral-like taste to your tongue. This may leave an unwanted taste to some and must be washed thoroughly in cold water.
- If you are using thinner broth, it is suggested to use less baking soda. If you have a fuller, thicker broth, you may use more amounts of baking soda.
- You need to check your boiling water while cooking. Due to the alkaline content the foam may produce, and it could reduce the water instantly. This will leave a bitter-tasting ramen noodle. In case this occurs, you may add water to regain the lost liquid.
- You cannot use the baking soda-water mixture for second cooking. Alkaline found on baking soda draws out the excess starch found on the pasta, which produces the ramen-like consistency.
- This recipe works not only on spaghetti but also on other pasta variants. You may also use it with fresh pasta but with minimal baking soda.
Is Spaghetti Healthier than Ramen?
When it comes to nutritional value, spaghetti and ramen can differ. Since ramen is popularly known in instant noodles, it is easy to say that spaghetti is a healthier choice than instant ramen noodles. However, authentic ramen uses more nutritious sources of starch, eggs, and broth, making it a healthier option.
To identify which food variant is a better choice, you may consider the following conditions:
- Instant ramen is made of wheat flour, before being infused with trans-fat, calories, sodium, and preservatives. This variant, if consumed in high amounts, can increase your cholesterol levels. This may cause heart-related conditions, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
- Authentic ramen made with eggs and starch provides better nutrition to your family. Ramen noodles infused with actual vegetables create a better nutrient for your body, unlike spaghetti. Authentic pasta has 40% more protein than dried pasta.
- Fresh pasta variant is still having a lower nutritional content than authentic ramen. This is because pasta uses only wheat flour and water, compared to fresh ramen infused with different starches and eggs.