Shio Tare Is The Savory Sauce That Will Take Your Ramen To The Next Level

In a bustling ramen shop, you take the first slurp of your hot ramen. The clear broth is not too salty and very refreshing. Brimming with umami, each sip intrigues and captivates you. You wonder, what makes this savory ramen so next-level?

Shio tare (meaning salt sauce in Japanese) may be the answer. This versatile liquid seasoning is often one of the key components of a good ramen broth, bringing both balance and depth. It adds saltiness, of course, and flavors from other simple but impactful ingredients such as fish sauce, shiitake mushrooms, lemon peels or yuzu (a citrus fruit), sake (rice wine), bonito (a type of tuna), and kombu (dried seaweed). Other ingredients that can be used include sugar, rice vinegar, and MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Crafting shio tare at home is relatively simple. First, bring a saucepan or water to boil, then add kosher salt. Add your desired ingredients and mix. Lower the heat to a simmer, and steep the ingredients for a few minutes to infuse their flavors. Strain the shio tare and store or use it immediately.

Shio tare isn't just for ramen

Thanks to its versatility, shio tare can enhance the flavors of various dishes. It adds a unique and vibrant flavor profile to ramen, depending on the ingredients used when brewing it. For instance, if your shio tare is lemony, your ramen style will be citrusy and tangy. Adding more savory ingredients like kombu, bonito flakes, or shiitake mushrooms will add extra umami to the ramen. Additionally, shio tare balances the other ramen components, such as aromatic oils, toppings like vegetables or pork belly, and the base broth, or dashi.  

Beyond ramen, shio tare can impart depth and flavor to other dishes as well. You can add it to your soups and stews, make it into a salad dressing, or use a few spoonfuls in your marinade to replace salt or soy sauce. Shio tare can also add flavor and richness to your stir-fries and grilled veggies. The possibilities in your home kitchen are endless thanks to shio tare's adaptability, so consider keeping a container in your fridge. 

Ramen flavors are diverse thanks to different tares

In the diverse and innovative ramen world, shio tare is a standout liquid seasoning, but it doesn't stand alone. There are other notable varieties of tare, such as shoyu (soy sauce) and miso. Each tare is unique and delicious, boasting distinct flavor profiles catering to varying tastes. 

For those who like broths that are salty, light, and clear accompanied by toppings such as seafood or chicken, shio tare is an excellent choice, especially when it has a tang from lemon rinds or yuzu. In contrast, ramen made with shoyu tare is often robust, full-bodied, a little sweet, and caramelized thanks to soy sauce. It's often paired with heartier ingredients like pork or beef. Miso tare is also a popular choice and excellent in a spicy or vegan miso ramen, with a rich, comforting, creamy taste.

You could always experiment and fuse flavors to make tare combinations, like miso-shoyu tare or shoyu-shio tare. Each tare introduces different dimensions to your beloved ramen dish — choosing which one becomes a matter of what's in season, which ingredients you have on hand, your personal taste preferences, and what's currently trending.