So there’s a variety of seasonings that you can add to either flavor your ingredients or the ramen broth itself. Most of these seasoning involve the sensory taste of ‘umami’ which is usually isolated in the form of MSG – which is basically the umami additive – so you will see MSG (which adds umami) or umami bearing substances like soy or vegetable protein added to these seasonings:
This is the obvious one. The original and oldest flavor/umami enhancer to any meal.
I usually go for either Yamasa or Kikkoman as both are traditionally brewed and will definitely enhance your dishes the way that soy sauce has done for centuries
Maggi Seasoning is a soy sauce alternative – it provides a very similar taste except of using soy beans it uses hydrolyzed vegetable protein instead. IMO I prefer soy sauce as its more natural but many people especially in Europe grew up with Maggi Seasoning and it’s a very similar flavor enhancer.
Liquid Shio Koji
Koji is the fermentation starter used to make soy sauce and miso soup – and now there’s liquid koji that you can use to marinate your meats and vegetables which will add a similar umami flavor component to them. So another worthwhile flavor enhancer to look at.
What can I say? It’s the classic way to give soups (even ramen soups) a fiery kick if you need it. What’s great about sriracha is it adds just the right amount of heat without spoiling the flavor – not vinegary like Tabasco and not too much like some of the crazy hot sauces out there – it adds a little bit of heat and it’s flavorful enough but not overpowering.
XO sauce is a seafood based sauce that adds a umami flavor component into your dishes. The main ingredient of most XO sauces is scallops so if you want to add more ‘fishy’ component to make your ramen more seafood like (maybe turning it into a more Jamppong like soup) then there’s this.
Laoganma Chili Crisp
The classic chili condiment of China, it’s not too spicy, but does impart a very unique umami + slightly spicy flavor onto the dish while also adding a ‘crispy’ texture as well. This is a favorite ingredient of many Chinese dishes and it’s an absolute classic that should be tried with any dish.
Chinkiang Black Vinegar
Used widely in many Chinese dishes, this is a rice vinegar that isn’t as sour or acetic as most of the white vinegars you see in the West. Instead, this vinegar can be used as subtle flavor enhancer to many dishes. Try marinating your meats and veggies with them!
The classic Lea&Perrins Worcestershire sauce is a fish based sauce that also contains a variety of other ingredients that all impart an umami flavor onto the dish. This is a Western sauce that’s not commonly used in Asian dishes but in the spirit of multiculturalism I would say leave nothing at the door and mix and match and experiment to see what works best for your flavor profile.
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