Shoyu ramen is an absolute classic and with this recipe you will be able to make it totally from scratch! Made with chewy ramen noodles served in a chicken wing and dashi based broth, flavoured with soy sauce and garnished with quintessential ramen toppings, you can enjoy authentic Japanese ramen in the comfort of your own home!
What is shoyu ramen?
Shoyu ramen is a type of ramen born in Japan that uses soy sauce for the tare (sauce), it's often referred to as "chuka soba" as well. Compared to other types of ramen, it is the most rustic and classic. However, the broths nowadays vary considerably from restaurant to restaurant, ranging from light soups with a chicken or vegetable broth base to thicker ones made with pork bones.
Just so you know, the soup of this recipe is made with a base of chicken wings and dashi together, it heavily follows the fundamentals of classic shoyu ramen rather than the contemporary ones with twist. Because I make soup and tare from scratch, it does take time but I made it so that the actual process is fairly simple!
Brief history of shoyu ramen
Long story short, it is said that the shoyu ramen served at Rairaiken (來々軒) in Asakusa, Tokyo in 1910 was the first shoyu ramen in Japan. At the time, it was called "Tokyo Ramen," and Tokyo Ramen is still popular as a local ramen to this day. Like shio ramen, shoyu ramen, which can be called the prototype of Japanese ramen, has a longer history than other types of ramen.
Because of its long history, there are many regional ramen dishes based on shoyu ramen throughout Japan such as:
- Asahikawa ramen (旭川ラーメン) in Hokkaido
- Tsugaru ramen (津軽ラーメン) in Aomori Prefecture
- Hachioji ramen (八王子ラーメン) in Tokyo
- Toyama black ramen (富山ブラック) in Toyama Prefecture
- Takayama ramen (高山ラーメン) in Gifu Prefecture
- Banshu ramen (播州ラーメン) in Hyogo Prefecture
- Onomichi ramen (尾道ラーメン) in Hiroshima Prefecture
- ...and many more!
Shoyu ramen vs miso/shio/tonkotsu ramen
As you might already know, Japanese ramen roughly has 4 different kinds:
- Shoyu (soy sauce)
- Shio (salt)
- Tonkotsu (pork bones)
Each term refers to the base of broth, and every ramen restaurant (except for big chains) is specialised in one of them. I know there are more kinds out there in Japan, but the list goes on and on so I just stop with these 4 main types.
|Broth||Soy sauce base||Miso base||Salt base||Pork bones base|
|Homemade difficulty||Moderate||Easy||Easy||Very hard|
These are just based on my experience of having had ramen for +25 years, but at the end of the day, it's all down to personal preference. However, one thing I can say for sure is, making tonkotsu ramen at home is extremely time consuming.
So if you want to try to make ramen at home, I recommend using this shoyu ramen recipe or my other miso ramen recipe (which is a lot easier).
My other ramen recipes:
- Easy Pork Miso Ramen
- Easy 15 min Tantanmen Ramen
- Abura Soba (Soupless Ramen)
- Spicy Nagoya Style "Taiwan Ramen"
- Nagasaki Champon Noodles (Ringer Hut Style)
What is the most popular type of ramen?
Although I have explained the different types in my experience above, I thought I should include third person view in it. Here is the ranking based on 510 people in Japan according to Mynavi News (2020):
- Shoyu: 26.5%
- Miso: 25.3%
- Tonkotsu: 22.5%
- Shio: 12.9%
- Others: 12.8%
As I expected, there is no clear winner for ramen preference in Japan. Shoyu, miso and tonkotsu ramen are more or less equal. For example, if I have to pick my favourite, I'd choose miso but I still eat shoyu, tonkotsu or shio when I feel like it. The preference is so subtle in other words.
Ingredients to make homemade shoyu ramen
In this homemade shoyu ramen recipe, I use following ingredients to make the broth (includes Amazon affiliate links):
- Chicken wings
- Dried sardines (niboshi)
- Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
- Kombu (dried kelp)
- Spring onion
- Chicken skin
- Soy sauce
See recipe card for details and quantities. As for the toppings, I use following:
Chashu, used in Japanese ramen, generally refers to braised pork belly. It is made by binding a block of pork with strings (takoito) and then simmering it with soy sauce, mirin, sake, and aromatic vegetables.
It is often used not only as a topping for ramen, but also as an ingredient in chahan (fried rice) and steamed buns. You can buy it at supermarkets in Japan but even if you cannot find it in your local supermarket, I have a recipe for homemade chashu! So if you're interested, please check it out!
As the name in English suggests, ramen egg is almost essential for any kinds of ramen not only in taste but also the look. A ramen egg is simply a boiled egg seasoned with broth or other seasoning.
Again, you can easily get it in Japanese supermarket, but I have an easy homemade ramen egg recipe so please check it out! You could also marinate soft boiled eggs in the leftover chashu broth if you want to go down that route!
Menma is a food originally from southern China and Taiwan, made by fermenting a kind of bamboo. Unlike chashu and ramen egg, it is almost impossible to make proper menma at home. So you can either omit it, or buy premade menma on Amazon.
Nori (dried seaweed)
The word "nori" is a general term for edible algae, but in cooking it refers to a food product made by processing the seaweed into a crisp paper-like sheet. It's not as essential as the ones above, but I personally like to have it with ramen. It's relatively easy to buy and you can use this for a lot of different dishes including sushi and onigiri!
Narutomaki is a type of fish cake made of pink-dyed fish paste wrapped in white paste and steamed. Incidentally, the name "Narutomaki" is named after the whirlpool pattern formed on the cross section of the fish, which is named after the whirlpools of the Naruto Straits.
Unlike any other toppings above, this is more about looks rather than taste, so you can easily omit this one. I personally don't feel sad if narutomaki isn't on my ramen.
Instructions on how to make homemade shoyu ramen
Here are the key steps for making shoyu ramen at home (see recipe card below for details.)
I like to use my favourite awase dashi broth by soaking dried sardines (niboshi) and dried kelp (kombu) in water for 30 minutes and then adding bonito flakes (katsuobushi) while heating it up. It's super easy to do and adds depth to the broth, but feel free to use premade dashi or dashi powder if you prefer to speed things up.
Simmer the broth
Add spring onion, chicken wings, fresh ginger and garlic cloves to the broth and simmer for 30 minutes. This will make a complex yet light broth that is rich in flavour.
Render chicken skin
When making the tare (sauce) I like to render the chicken skin so that the fat comes out and adds more flavour to the ramen over all. I love crispy chicken skin so once it's cooked I like to just eat it as it is, but you can also cut it up and use it as a ramen topping if you like!
Make the tare (sauce)
Making a tare is an essential step when making ramen. As this is "shoyu" ramen, the tare is mainly flavoured with soy sauce. I also add sake, mirin and sugar to balance out the flavour. Simmer the tare for 15 minutes to reduce it down so that it's thick and glossy.
The order in which the ramen is assembled is pretty straight forward. You start by dividing the tare between the bowls. My recipe makes two portions so simply half it for each bowl. If you're making multiple portions then you will need to increase the quantities and then divide the simmered tare accordingly.
Next, you add 300ml of broth to each bowl and mix it with the tare. The broth will be reduced after the simmering time, but you might still have some leftover. You can store this in the fridge and use it for next time, I recommend using it up within a week. Don't be tempted to use more than 300ml of broth per serving otherwise the tare to broth ratio will be off.
Add the ramen noodles and toppings
Cook your ramen noodles in a separate pot and follow the instructions on the packaging. Drain the water and place the noodles in the broth.
Top with your favourite ramen ingredients and enjoy this authentic Japanese shoyu ramen at home!
Substitutions to use in this shoyu ramen recipe
Even though it's hard to change the broth part for this recipe, you can use different ingredients for toppings. For example, if your local supermarket doesn't sell chashu and you don't want to make it from scratch, you can use chicken instead!
So in here, I will list all the substitutions for specific ingredients as much as possible.
- Chicken breast: if you want to substitute pork chashu, you can use chicken and make a chashu-like topping! If you want to know how to make this easy chicken, please check the "salad chicken" part of this chicken salad recipe!
- Fried/grilled pork: I do understand making pork chashu from scratch takes a lot of time. If you still want to use pork, you can consider frying or grilling pork belly with soy sauce/mirin/sake mix sauce.
- Soft boiled egg: ramen eggs are definitely preferred, but you can simply use soft boiled eggs instead of ramen eggs. Simply cook eggs in boiling water for 7-8 minutes.
- Boiled spinach/pak choi: it's hard to substitute menma, but if you replace menma with something else, you can add boiled spinach or pak choi for topping. You can find how to prep spinach in this Japanese sesame spinach salad recipe.
- Fried beansprouts: Another additional topping option is fried beansprouts. Simple stir fry them with a bit of salt and pepper and place them on top of your ramen!
Step by step recipe
Shoyu ramen refers to ramen with soy sauce based broth, while miso ramen, which originated in Sapporo, Hokkaido, uses miso paste in the broth. Also, miso ramen is often made by stir-frying vegetables and meat in a wok and then adding broth and sauce, so the process can also differ slightly.
While shoyu ramen uses a soy sauce-based tare, tonkotsu (pork bones) ramen, as the name suggests, features a broth made from pork bones and is often cooked over high heat to produce a thick cloudy white soup.
Yes, it's the most classic form of Japanese ramen. It's not as rich as tonkotsu ramen or miso ramen, but if you like modest flavour, you will definitely like it!
It's all down to personal preference. A lot of researches and surveys show that a lot of Japanese ramen lovers like both of them equally. I personally like miso ramen for rich flavour, but I still like shoyu ramen when I want rustic flavour.
4 main types of ramen in Japan are shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, miso ramen, tonkotsu (pork bones) ramen, and shio (salt) ramen.