Your Instant Ramen Will Taste Better With One Simple Addition

Ramen's roots can be traced back to Chinese noodles merging with Japanese cuisine (see Google Arts & Culture for an interactive history). Over time, ramen evolved to suit preferences of individual communities around the world, as different regions would incorporate their own unique flair and spices. To this day, ramen is not defined by any one recipe but instead has embraced familiar elements — noodles, broth, sauce, and cooking oil.

Ramen noodles can vary as far as shape and type, from square, round, and flat noodles to noodles made with wheat or egg or that are suitable for a gluten-free diet (via Yamato Noodle). Dashi, or soup stock, can also range in variety. The sauce, traditionally named tare, can be made from meat or fish — or even mushroom — with an array of spices.

Despite all this variety, though, ramen connoisseurs mostly agree there are key elements that should not go missing from the perfect bowl of ramen noodles, even a bowl of instant ramen noodles, which were first invented in 1958.

Up your bowl of instant ramen with this dairy product

Whether you're on a ramen-inspired quest to find the best ramen bowl in America or have been trying to perfect your instant ramen at home, there's one simple ingredient you should consider including the next time you do: butter.

Think of butter as a carrier for the spices and other flavors blended into your bowl of steaming noodles. Not only does including a fat or oil help keep ramen ingredients hot, but butter also helps to balance out extra spiciness. As EatingWell explains, the casein in dairy products like milk, sour cream, and butter provides a counter to the capsaicin found in chiles, including chile flakes and oil. On top of this, butter also introduces a different flavor profile (sweet) into your bowl of instant ramen noodles, one you likely never considered before. Even the Institute of Culinary Education agrees: butter is a tangy texture that can't be beat.

Experiment with different vegetables, sprinkle in different herbs and spices, or just keep your instant ramen as simple as the package it came in, but try frothing butter directly into the broth of your next ramen bowl. Alternatively, spoon ghee (clarified butter) on top of your assembled meal and watch it slowly melt into the soup. Whatever your preference, butter's unexpected addition can help make your next ramen bowl that much better.