The content that we consume for entertainment can affect our eating habits too! Surprised? Don’t be. According to a new survey by market research firm Euromonitor, the popularity of Korean series and K-pop music has led to a rise in the consumption of Korean food in India. “With the Korean wave blowing in India, interest and demand for various Korean foods are growing, ramyun being the most popular,” says Junghun Yoo, a chef from Korean Culture Centre India, Dalgrak.
The history of Korean ramyun dates back to 1963, when it emerged as a cheap filler food during the post-Korean war age, says chef, Rani Lee from Seoul restaurant. “Ramyun, the Korean word for instant noodles is based on traditional Japanese cuisine. It often comes in cup or packet form. One of the major reasons behind ramyun’s popularity is the fact that it is easy to make and quick to eat,” says Lee.
Japanese style ramens are called ramen, while the Korean variant is called ramyun. Though there is more difference than just the name, many noodle lovers prefer to try both depending on their craving. “Japanese ramen is more subtle in flavour as compared to Korean ramen as it has a stronger taste, and is generally spicy,” says chef Kazuhiro Koizumi from The Westin Gurgaon.
Both ramen and ramyun come in variety of flavours, and it’s the usage of different elements that give them their unique taste. “Sauce (tare), soup, toppings, noodles and oil – the harmony and balance of these five elements makes a perfect ramyun,” says Tushar Alagh, a consultant with Mensho Tokyo, while adding that ramen on the other hand is more diverse and can even be prepared using desi ingredients. “We serve spicy lamb ramen which has a sesame minced lamb, rich chicken broth, carrots, eggplant and kasturi methi. This gives the whole Japanese bowl of ramen, a pop of Indian flavours,” he says.
These noodles are known for their versatility also. “There’s a ramen for almost every pallet.Variety of noodles, various types of broths and toppings can be used,” says chef Ritesh Tulsian. And there are ways to make it healthy too. Just replace wheat noodles with buckwheat noodles, mung bean noodles or rice noodles and add veggies to it. “Consider adding some broccoli to your ramen for a boost of vitamin C and healthy fibre, or maybe some chopped carrots for an added dose of vitamin A and vitamin C. You can add veggies raw, steamed or cook them in the broth itself while heating the noodles,” says Koizumi.
When it comes to seasoning, freshest of ingredients are used to complement flavours of the ramen bowl. “The ingredients depend on the type of ramen you are making, some of the toppings are scallions, edamame (beans), ajitama (soft boiled egg marinated in soy), garlic (fried or raw), chopped onions (fried or raw), bok choy , among others. You can even add caviar and lobster to a ramen if you like,” suggests Alagh.