How To Choose The Best Noodles For Your Homemade Ramen

If you're trying to make perfect instant ramen from a package, both broth and noodles are provided for you. But if you're cooking ramen from scratch, it can be tough to know which noodles to use. With nuanced dishes like noodle soups, the size of your noodle can determine what kind of dish you're making: An ultra-thin noodle will turn your ramen into a pho soup recipe, but thick noodles can turn a bowl of broth into hearty udon. The sweet spot between a full-enough mouthful and a bowl crowded with noodles can be a tough target to hit, especially if you don't have a top ramen restaurant nearby to refer to. 

Fortunately, chefs Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi, co-authors of the upcoming cookbook "Love Japan" and co-owners of Shalom Japan, have tips. When it comes to picking the best noodle for your soup, Israel and Okochi advise home cooks to think of noodles as "a vehicle for the broth" (via Real Simple). If you're working with a thicker broth, opt for a thicker noodle. On the flip side, pair thinner broths with thinner noodles. Here's how to know which is which.

Match noodles and broth

Shio and shoyu are common ramen broths. Shio is made from steeped chicken or pork bones, says MasterClass, and usually results in a semi-clear color. Shoyu has a soy sauce base, adding a more dimensional umami flavor to recipes. When working with these kinds of thinner broths, opt for thinner noodles, like soba. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour and are perfect to pair with light broths (per Healthline). While thicker noodles have less absorption capacity and will deliver less broth per bite, the opposite is true of thin, wavy noodles (via Real Simple).

As you're whipping up your next batch of ramen, consider both broth and noodles to produce the most delicious dish. A thick, fatty broth like tonkotsu delivers a lush, creamy taste, according to Umami Insider. Similarly, Spruce Eats describes miso ramen broth as having a peanut-butter-like texture, making it a perfect pairing for chukamen. Chukamen noodles are a kind of egg-based noodle, typically long and cylindrical in shape (via Eat Japan). Chukamen's thicker size makes it a good fit for thick broths like tonkotsu and miso ramen.