Japanese
Ramen noodles topped with egg ramen, chashu and naruto fish cake with a smaller bowl of accompanying sauce with text overlay

Take your regular bowl of ramen to the next level with this Tsukemen recipe! Tsukemen is a mouthwatering Japanese noodle dish where the noodles are served separately from the broth. A traditional bowl of ramen is deconstructed and transformed so that soft, chewy ramen noodles are submerged in a thick, flavor-packed soup. The result is a fun eating experience, a mouth-watering explosion of textures and flavors, and a balance of hot and cold that makes this dish perfect for summer!

Ramen noodles topped with egg ramen, naruto fish cakes and chashu chicken in a ramen bowl accompanied by a bowl of ramen soup

What is Tsukemen?

Tsukemen, or ramen dipping noodles, is a dish that offers a twist on traditional ramen. The term “tsukemen” literally translates to “dipping noodles,” which perfectly describes the unique way this dish is eaten.

Unlike traditional ramen, where the noodles are served in a thick broth, tsukemen is served with the noodles and broth separated. The noodles are usually cold or at room temperature, while the thick, rich soup (known as tare) is served hot in a separate bowl, ready to be dipped into the noodles.

There are many variations of tsukemen nowadays because of the many ways in which the broth can be prepared. For this recipe I made a thick soup with a sesame flavor, but you can also make something with miso, for example, and even add spices to the broth.

To eat tsukemen, pick up a small portion of cold noodles with chopsticks and dip them into the rich soup. Then, sip on the perfectly coated noodles along with some of the soup's flavors. This dipping process allows for more control over how much broth is absorbed by each bite of noodles. Eat them along with your favorite toppings for delicious tsukemen at home.

Tsukemen noodles dipped in a bowl of thick tare soup with a pair of chopsticks

Brief history of Tsukemen

The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in Tokyo by Kazuo Yamagishi at a ramen restaurant called Taishoken. He and other staff members would dip leftover cold noodles into a broth to eat on hot summer days. The staff would dip the leftover noodles into a bowl filled with soup, soy sauce, and other ingredients similar to zaru soba. Although it was initially a “makanai-meshi,” or a meal prepared for the staff rather than the customers, it soon became a popular meal among customers as well.

Yamagishi's creation was originally called “special morisoba” and was added to the restaurant's menu in 1955. Its popularity has spread over the years, so much so that it is now a common type of ramen served in many places throughout Japan.

– reference Taishoken

The basic ingredients of Tsukemen

To create the perfect bowl of tsukemen, you need several key ingredients:

tsuken ingredients - fresh ramen noodles, chopped nori sheet, chopped spring onion, sesame seeds, mentsuyu, sesame paste, ramen egg, chashu chicken and naruto fish cake

Ramen Noodles

The star of any tsukemen dish is undoubtedly the ramen noodles. These thick, chewy wheat-based noodles have a density that allows them to hold the rich accompanying sauce without becoming mushy. You can buy pre-made ramen noodles at Asian grocery stores or local supermarkets. Or you can even make your own ramen noodles at home using my simple recipe.

“Tare” dipping broth

Unlike traditional ramen, where the noodles are served in a hot soup, tsukemen features a separate dipping broth or “tare.” The tare, which accompanies the noodles in tsukemen, is the key to creating the delicious flavor. The tare can vary greatly depending on regional preferences and personal preference, but often includes dashi stock, soy sauce, bonito flakes, tonkotsu (pork bones), chicken bones, vegetables, and various seasonings such as miso, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, chili oil, or powder for added depth and spiciness. It tends to be thicker and more concentrated than typical ramen broths since it needs to have a kick when eaten alongside the plain noodles. For this recipe, I made a sesame broth that adds a delicious nuttiness to the ramen.

Condiments for Tsukemen

One of the reasons for the popularity of tsukemen is its versatility. You can find numerous toppings available, such as tender slices of chashu (braised pork belly), marinated hard-boiled eggs (ajitama), bamboo shoots (menma), strips of nori seaweed, and green onions or scallions. This makes it easy and fun to customize your bowls of tsukemen to your preferences. Here are some popular topping options:

Chashu (Braised Pork) : Chashu is a popular and common seasoning for Japanese ramen dishes. It is made with tender slices of braised pork belly, marinated in soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), sake, sugar, and other flavorings such as garlic and ginger. It has a melt-in-your-mouth softness and a rich, meaty flavor to add to ramen.

Ajitama (ramen eggs) : Ajitama is a soft-boiled egg marinated in soy sauce-based seasoning blends such as mirin or sake along with dashi broth for added umami flavor. These eggs have a slightly runny yolk that adds creaminess when steeped in the flavorful broth.

Naruto fish cake: It is a type of fish cake with a pink spiral inside. It is a very typical topping ingredient for ramen and other noodle dishes in Japan.

Garnishes: Various toppings can be added to enhance the flavor and texture of the tsukemen. Common choices include chopped green onions, seaweed (nori), bamboo shoots (menma), bean sprouts, fried garlic, nori flakes, or even a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Tsukemen Noodle served with tare sauce and a pair of chopsticks

Step by step instructions for making Tsukemen

  1. Cook the noodles: Start by cooking fresh ramen noodles according to the package directions or my recipe for homemade ramen noodles. Tsukemen noodles are usually thicker than regular ramen noodles and have a chewy texture. Boil the noodles in a large pot, then drain and rinse the noodles under cold water to prevent further cooking and to remove excess starch.
  2. Prepare the toppings: While the noodles are cooling, prepare your desired toppings. Common toppings for tsukemen include sliced ​​chashu pork, hard-boiled egg, bamboo shoots, nori, and green onions. You can also add extras like corn or shiitake mushrooms for extra flavor.
  3. Make the tare dipping stock: For this tsukemen stock, combine the sesame seed paste and heated mentsuyu until it becomes a thick sauce. Transfer to a small pot and heat the sauce.
  4. Assemble your meal. Place the cooked noodles in a bowl and arrange your toppings of choice on top. Pour the broth into a separate smaller bowl for dipping.
  5. Dip and sip to eat tsukemen. Pick up a few noodles with chopsticks and dip them into the broth before taking a bite. The delicious nutty flavor of the broth will perfectly complement the cold, chewy noodles as you sip.
4 images collage of cooking fresh ramen noodles and heating soup ingredients
4 collage images - preparation of the accompanying sauce and assembly of everything
  • Choose the right noodles: Tsukemen noodles are usually thicker and chewier than traditional ramen noodles. Look for fresh or dried noodles specifically labeled for tsukemen, or make your own at home to get the right thickness.
  • Cook the noodles al dente: To achieve the perfect texture for tsukemen noodles, cook them slightly underdone (al dente) before serving them with the dipping broth. This will prevent them from becoming mushy while they soak in the broth.
  • Get creative with the sauce to go with it: I made a sesame-flavored sauce for my tsukemen, but you can easily adapt it to suit your tastes. Add seasonings and flavor with chili oil, or make your own broth.

FAQ

Q: What is the difference between ramen and tsukemen?

A: Ramen is a noodle soup dish that typically consists of wheat noodles served in a thick broth, which can be made with pork, chicken, or seafood. The broth is often flavored with soy sauce or miso paste and garnished with ingredients such as sliced ​​pork belly, soft-boiled eggs, green onions, and seaweed. On the other hand, tsukemen is a dipping noodle dish where cold noodles are served along with a concentrated sauce. The noodles are cooked separately and then cooled before being dipped into the thick sauce made with a variety of seasonings and ingredients.

Q: Should you drink tsukemen broth?

A: While there is no hard and fast rule about whether or not to drink tsukemen broth, it is generally acceptable to do so in Japanese culture. The rich, flavorful broth is too delicious to waste, so it is perfectly acceptable to savor every last drop. However, if you find the broth too salty or strong for your taste, feel free to leave it that way. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to enjoying this dish, especially when making it at home, so feel free to do as you wish.

Dip ramen noodles into a flavorful broth with your favorite toppings and enjoy delicious homemade Tsukemen at home!

Preparation time 10 minutes

Time to cook 10 minutes

Total time 20 minutes

Portions: 2

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Ramen Noodles, Condiments & Garnishes

Ramen Noodles

  • Bring a large pot of water (not listed in the ingredients above) to a boil.

  • Add the fresh ramen noodles and cook for about 3 minutes.

  • Turn off the heat and drain the tagliatelle.

  • Rinse the cooked noodles under cold running water to stop the cooking and remove excess starch.

  • Place the cooked noodles in a ramen bowl.

  • Garnished with sliced ​​chashu, naruto fish cake and ajitama ramen egg.

  • Garnish with finely chopped spring onions and sesame seeds.

Dipping sauce “Tare”

  • Place the toasted sesame seed paste into a Japanese mortar.

  • Dilute the mentsuyu with water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.

  • Gradually add it to the sesame seed paste as it is ground.

  • Transfer it to a saucepan and heat it over medium heat.

  • Once it boils, turn off the heat and pour everything into a bowl to serve with the bowl of ramen.

*1 You can use fresh ramen noodles purchased from the supermarket or make them at home following this recipe.
*2 To make Chashu from scratch, see this recipe.
*3 Ajitama Egg Ramen Recipe.
* Start preparing the above toppings ahead of time, as the preparation of the above recipes is not included in the cooking time.
*4 If you don't have Nerigoma (toasted sesame seed paste) available, replace it with the same amount of tahini.
*5 Mentsuyu Recipe.

Serving: 1Serve · Calories: 179kilocalorie · Carbohydrates: 9G · Protein: 9G · Fat: 12G · Saturated fats: 2G · Polyunsaturated fats: 4G · Monounsaturated fat: 4G · Cholesterol: 93mg · Sodium: 59mg · Potassium: 120mg · Fiber: 1G · Sugar: 0.4And · Vitamin A: 170IU · C vitamin: 1mg · Soccer: 56mg · Iron: 1mg

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