Finding nostalgia through noodles

If you’re tired of cup noodles from Sidestein, try these homemade ramen recipes.

Jennifer Ren

Kaisei Arai, Contributing Writer

As a Japanese person, ramen holds a special place in my heart. While ramen is often consumed in the United States in the form of instant packets, it has a far richer, deeper history than what many might assume. Ramen has been a staple in Japanese cuisine since the early 20th century, and has countless regional variations which reflect the culinary diversity of Japan. The dish, for me, is a comfort food that not only evokes a sense of personal nostalgia for me, but is also a reminder of my own heritage.

Ramen has three main components that create a culinary experience that is unmatched. The rich broth, chewy noodles and perfectly cooked toppings produce a layered aroma that reminds me of home. There are several different ways to add more flavor to your ramen — some of the most common flavorings come from tonkotsu — or pork-bone broth — miso, salt, and soy sauce. As for the noodles, one can choose from a variety of types, with their own thickness, texture, and base ingredients.

My personal favorite is Hakata-style ramen, which is characterized by its rich and milky pork-bone broth full of umami flavor. The noodles used in Hakata-style ramen are thin and straight, with a firm and chewy texture. I like to cover the entire surface of the ramen bowl with chashu pork slices and top it off with an ungodly amount of red pickled ginger.

Growing up, I have fond memories of enjoying a warm bowl of ramen with my family and friends. Some of my favorite moments involved sharing a steamy bowl of ramen with my mother and having a friendly argument over which ramen noodle stiffness is best. Eating ramen with anyone can make the most mundane day so much better, because it encourages conversation and connection.

Now, as a college student, ramen is a dish that I continue to cherish. Whether it’s the midst of summer or a frigid winter day, I am always down to inhale a steaming hot bowl of ramen. For me, ramen is more than just a comfort food — it’s a connection to my roots, and the perfect cure for my hunger.

Garlic Ramen Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5-7 minutes
Difficulty: The hardest parts are waiting for the water to boil and choosing your toppings!
Servings: 1


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 pack of Top Ramen, or any other ready-to-make ramen package


  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 or 2 slices of thick-cut pork butt
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 boiled egg
  • ¼ cup of sliced bamboo shoots
  • ½ teaspoon of Shichimi Japanese chili spice


  • Frying pan
  • Saibashi, or long cooking chopsticks
  • Multi-use pot
  • Kitchen knife


1. In a large pot, bring 1½ cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Slice the garlic cloves into thin pieces, and chop green onions into thick or thin pieces, whatever you like best.
3. Pan-fry the pork butt on a hot pan with sesame oil and chopped garlic over medium heat. Fry until each side of the pork is golden brown.
4. Chop spinach into 2-inch pieces, boil for 3 minutes and then take it out on a separate plate.
5. Pour the flavor packet into your bowl and add the remaining 2 ½ cups of water and stir. Set aside.
6. Add uncooked ramen noodles into the pot and cook for at least 1-2 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes. No one wants mushy noodles!
7. Strain the boiled noodles and place them in your ramen bowl.
8. Top the bowl with boiled eggs, baby spinach, green onions, sliced bamboo shoots, fried pork and garlic. Sprinkle some Shichimi seasoning if you like your ramen spicy. Feel free to get creative!
9. Serve the ramen hot and enjoy!

When I’m feeling indulgent, I make my own ramen broth from scratch. Here is a step-by-step guide on how I make my ramen broth of choice — tonkotsu. This broth is creamy, rich, savory and made from pork bones. The process can be time-consuming, but the result is worth it.

Tonkotsu Ramen Broth

Prep Time: 1 to 2 hours
Cook Time: 13 to 18 hours
Difficulty: Not too difficult, but waiting for the broth to develop requires patience!


  • 5-6 lbs pork bones (neck bones, leg bones, etc.)
  • 4 cups of water, or enough to cover your pork bones
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 knob of ginger, sliced
  • 6-8 green onions, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cups soy sauce
  • ¼ cups sake
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • Salt to taste


  • Large stockpot
  • Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • Ladle
  • Skimmer
  • Colander


1. Rinse the pork bones under cold water to remove any debris or blood clots.
2. In a large stockpot, add the pork bones and enough water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
3. Let the bones simmer for 12-16 hours, skimming off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface.
4. After 12-16 hours, the broth should have turned milky white and the bones should be falling apart. Remove the bones from the pot using a skimmer.
5. Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any remaining bits of bone or debris.
6. Return the strained broth to the pot and add the onion, garlic, ginger, and green onions. Simmer for another hour.
7. Add soy sauce, sake, mirin, and salt to taste. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and strain the broth again.
9. For the best flavor, I like to let the broth chill overnight and reheat it again. Any extra broth can be kept refrigerated.

Contact Kaisei Arai at [email protected].