This delicious Chicken Shio Ramen is made with a light yet flavourful salt based broth and topped with succulent steamed chicken breast. Create this classic noodle dish in your own kitchen from scratch!
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What is shio ramen?
Shio ramen refers to ramen with a broth made from salt base “tare” (sauce) mixed dashi (Japanese soup stock). Along with shoyu ramen, it is one of the oldest types of ramen eaten in Japan. Because the soup is not based on rich condiments like soy sauce or miso, it cannot be disguised and is said to be the most difficult ramen to perfect because of its simplicity.
Also, as it’s not too rich like most ramen, but rather refreshing, there are some enthusiastic fans that say shio ramen is definitely the best out of all!
Brief history of shio ramen
Shio ramen is said to have its roots in a noodle dish created in 1884 at Yowaken in Hakodate, Hokkaido, which is believed to be the origin of today’s shio ramen and regional Hakodate ramen.
Until recently, it was believed that the oldest ramen in Japan was shoyu ramen, which was originated in Asakusa, Tokyo, in 1910, but this theory was overturned when documents were found showing that the original salt ramen had existed in Hakodate 26 years earlier.
As a result, the theory that shio ramen is the oldest ramen in Japan is now the most promising.
Shio ramen vs shoyu ramen: what are the differences?
In short, shio (salt in Japanese) ramen is a ramen dish that has salt base broth and shoyu (soy sauce in Japanese) is made with a soy sauce base broth. Because of this nature, shio ramen is paler in colour and clearer than shoyu ramen.
Here is a chart that highlights the differences between shio ramen and shoyu ramen:
|Shio ramen||Shoyu ramen|
|Broth||Salt base||Soy sauce base|
|Origin||Hokkaido in 1884||Tokyo in 1910|
Shio ramen vs tonkotsu ramen: what are the differences?
The difference between shio ramen and tonkotsu ramen are even simpler. Tonkotsu (pork bone in Japanese) simply refers to ramen that uses pork bones to make the broth. If you have ever been to ramen restaurants in Japan, you might have come across “shio tonkotsu ramen”. That means the broth is salt base tare with pork bone broth.
So the way to distinguish these two are the existence of pork bone in the making process. As for the looks and tastes, tonkotsu ramen’s broth is creamy and a lot thicker because of the slow cooking process of the pork bones.
Ingredients to make homemade shio ramen
I’ve broken down the ingredients to make shio ramen into each element of the dish, the “tare” (sauce), komi abura (flavoured oil), homemade dashi broth and toppings.
Shio dare (sauce)
All ramen soups are made up of two elements, the broth and the “tare” (or “dare”) which is the sauce. Shio dare is the flavour base for the overall shio ramen broth:
Komi abura (oil)
Komi abura (香味油) is an aromatic ingredient that is made by heating oil with aromatics to transfer the flavor to the oil. You can simply translate this as “flavoured oil”.
- Spring onion (white part)
Dashi is a Japanese soup stock made by boiling meat, vegetables, dried foods, etc. It will be the backbone of the flavor of this shio ramen.
- Chicken mince
- Pork mince
- Dried konbu (kelp)
- Spring onion (green part)
- Katsuobushi (bonito flake)
- Niboshi (dried sardines)
You can always mix and match toppings for ramen, but in this recipe, I used following:
- Salad chicken (steamed chicken breast)
- Menma (fermented bamboo shoots)
- Ramen egg
- Spring onion (white part)
- Chilli threads (for decoration and a fiery kick)
Instructions on how to make homemade chicken shio ramen from scratch
Here are my detailed instructions on how to make chicken shio ramen from scratch with process pictures! For the simplified printable recipe and ingredient quantities, see the recipe card below!
Start by soaking the dried kombu (kelp) and niboshi (sardines) in cold water. This slowly extracts the flavour creating a base for the broth that is packed with umami!
Add mince to the dashi
After 30 minutes, add the chicken mince and pork mince to the dashi and swish it around to break it up. The fat from the mince adds meaty depth of flavour to the broth without having to simmer bones, it’s essentially a shortcut for making ramen broth!
Heat and add other ingredients
Place the pot on the stove and heat on medium high. Bring the broth to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, add katsuobushi (bonito flakes), whole ginger, whole garlic cloves and spring onion. Leave this to simmer for 30 minutes.
For better time efficiency, use this simmering time to cook the chicken breast and make the tare.
Strain the broth
Line a mesh sieve with kitchen paper and place it over a heatproof bowl. Pour the broth through to catch all the small bits. The larger bits tend to stick/stay in the original pot, this step is just to catch the small bits and make the broth clear. Set aside for later.
Cook the chicken
My favourite way to cook chicken for this dish is using my “salad chicken” recipe, it’s essentially a simple steamed chicken breast cooked in the microwave. If you want more details, check out my Chicken Salad recipe. Here is a round up of the steps:
- Dry the surface of the chicken with kitchen paper.
- Pierce both sides thoroughly with a fork.
- Sprinkle with salt on both sides.
- Coat with a thin layer of corn starch.
- Take a microwavable bowl and add chicken bouillon powder, sake, mirin, salt and sugar. Mix it and then place the chicken in the bowl. Turn it a few times to coat it in the sauce.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes at 600W.
- Carefully peel back the plastic wrap (be careful of the steam!), turn the chicken over, cover again and microwave once more for 2 minutes at 600W.
- Once the microwaving time is up, set a timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken to rest in the steam. (Just leave it in the microwave and don’t be tempted to take it out early!)
- When 10 minutes are up, remove the chicken from the bowl and let it cool slightly before slicing. Save the leftover juices in the bowl to add to the ramen broth later.
You can watch how to make salad chicken in the video below!
[adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”9vxcYgqC” upload-date=”2022-11-20T05:45:35.000Z” name=”salad chicken.mp4″ description=”How to make Japanese style salada chicken to serve with salad vegetables. (Includes homemade wafu dressing)” player-type=”default” override-embed=”default”]
Make “shiraganegi” (Spring onion strings)
This is an optional topping, but I like to serve my shio ramen with “shiraganegi”, thinly cut strings of the white part of a spring onion. To make these, cut the spring onion into thin “strings” and soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes. This softens the taste and removes any unwanted bitterness.
Make flavoured oil
Add lard, finely chopped garlic and finely chopped spring onion (white part) to a sauce pan. Heat on low and fry until the onion is slightly golden and garlic is aromatic.
Be sure to use a low heat for the flavoured oil. It takes a bit longer, but the slow heating gently brings out the flavours and prevents burning. If the ingredients burn, the oil will become bitter so remove it from the heat as soon as it starts to turn golden.
Make Tare (Ramen Sauce Base)
Add the sake, mirin and salt to a small saucepan and heat on medium low. Mix over the heat until the salt is dissolved. Turn off the heat, add the soy sauce and divide into bowls.
Put everything together
Add the flavoured oil and the juices leftover from the steamed chicken to the tare.
Boil the noodles just before serving (it should only take a few minutes) and reheat the broth if necessary. Divide the noodles into the bowls and add 300ml of broth per serving.
Finally, add your toppings. I used soft boiled eggs, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), shiraganegi and chilli threads!
Substitutions and variations of this shio ramen recipe
In this section, I will list all the alternative ingredients, substitutions and variations against the recipe card below to make the best chicken shio ramen to your preference:
- 100% chicken mince or pork mince (against 50/50)
- Chicken wings or bones (instead of any kind of mince)
- Sesame oil (instead of lard)
- Chicken fat, goose fat or duck fat (instead of lard)
- Chashu (instead of chicken breast)
- Soft boiled eggs (instead of ramen eggs)
I hope you enjoy making this classic chicken shio ramen at home! If you try the recipe, let me know what you think in the comments!
Chicken shio ramen (salt base broth)
- Red dragon ramen bowl
- Noodle strainer
- 250 g chicken breast
- 2 pinches salt
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- ½ tbsp sake
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1 tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp lard or sesame oil
- 2 tbsp green onion(s) white bit chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- Pour 1000 ml water into pot and add 10 g dried kelp(s) and 10 g dried sardines. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- After 30 mins, add 100 g ground chicken and 100 g ground pork to the water and use your hands to swish it around and break it apart.
- Place the pot on the stove, turn on the heat to medium high and bring to boil.
- Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and add 15 g bonito flakes, 20 g fresh ginger , 2 cloves garlic and 50 g green onion(s). Leave to simmer for 30 minutes. (For efficiency, I recommend preparing the chicken, oil and tare while it's simmering.)
- Line a mesh sieve with kitchen paper and place it over a heatproof bowl. Pour the broth through the sieve to catch all the small bits and make a clear broth. Set aside for later. (See note on how to use leftover mince.)
- Dry 250 g chicken breast with kitchen paper.
- Pierce both sides thoroughly with a fork and sprinkle with 2 pinches salt.
- Coat with a thin layer of 1 tsp cornstarch.
- In a microwavable bowl, mix 1/2 tbsp sake, 1 tsp mirin, 1 tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp sugar.
- Place the chicken in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 mins 600W.
- Remove the plastic wrap (be careful of the steam), turn the chicken over, cover again and microwave once more for 2 minutes at 600W.
- After the microwave beeps, set a timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken to rest in the steam.
- Once 10 minutes are up, take the chicken out and cut when it’s cool enough to touch. Save the chicken juices in the bowl for the ramen broth later.
- Take a small pan and add 2 tbsp lard, 2 tbsp green onion(s) and 2 cloves garlic . Heat on medium low and fry until the spring onion is browned and the garlic is fragrant.
- Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, add 3 tbsp sake, 1 tsp mirin and 1 tbsp salt.
- Place the pan on the stove and heat on medium low. Heat and stir until the salt is dissolved completely.
- Turn off the heat, add 1 tsp soy sauce and mix.
- Divide an equal amount of tare, flavoured oil and juice from the chicken into each bowl and mix.
- Boil 2 portions ramen noodles just before serving (follow the instructions on the packaging) and reheat the broth if necessary.
- Devide the broth and the noodles to each bowl.
- Place your chicken and toppings of choice over the noodles.
Unlike the name (shio means salt) sounds, shio ramen is relatively less salty compared to other types of ramen such as miso ramen or tonkotsu ramen. It’s named like that just because the broth is salt base.
It really depends on how the broth is extracted. Some restaurants predominantly use seafood for shio ramen’s broth, in that case it can be fishy, but others might just use chicken for the broth.
Generally speaking, shio ramen is rarely spicy.
According to Mynavi News (2020), Shoyu ramen is the most popular type of ramen (26.5% vote) and then miso (25.3%), tonkotsu (22.5%) shio (12.9%) and others (12.8%).