This Tantanmen Ramen recipe is so good it’s almost a shock how easy it is to whip up! Definitely a dish you’ll want to make at home again and again.
As much as I love Asian noodles, there is one dish in particular I don’t see myself ever attempting at home, and that is traditional ramen. I LOVE ramen, but knowing how much time and technique is required to make just a few servings of it is enough to make me willingly pay the masters to make it for me. Just watching videos of people making traditional ramen from scratch is exhausting! It’s only fair that I aim for something more realistic given my cooking skill level. Of course, that’s only a fancy way of saying I am not beyond making shortcut ramen recipes, because amazing shortcut ramen recipes do exist.
Case in point: This Shortcut Tantanmen from Seonkyoung Longest. OH MY GOD, IT’S SO GOOD.
I don’t even have enough words to express how much I loved this recipe. First of all, the flavors are amazing for the amount of work you need to actually do for this recipe. You will be counting on a handful of Asian ingredients however, and I honestly don’t mind in the least. The ingredients are not that expensive, and you can use them for a plethora of other Asian dishes, so they’re good to have on hand. This is one of those moments where the payoff exceeds the effort tenfold, and I feel like sometimes we need more recipes like that.
Let me break this recipe down into more digestible bits: For the soup base, you have a seasoning sauce you mix together in a bowl, then you also have a broth that’s made with water, unsweetened soy milk, and chicken powder/bouillon. Yes, we’re using bouillon here. No one will even know. The topping is ground meat cooked in doubanjiang or tobanjiang. (The spelling differ from brand to brand.) It’s spicy chili bean paste, which gives the meat so much oomph you won’t know what hit you!
After all the flavor-bearers in this dish, all that’s left to talk about is the bok choy plus the ramen. I think the bok choy is THE non-negotiable vegetable in a Tantanmen. Something doesn’t feel right when I don’t see it in the bowl. I realize I only added two for the photos and video but I had more waiting on a separate plate when I finally sat down to actually eat my Tantanmen. I love bok choy. For the ramen, feel free to splurge on the higher-end fresh ramen, or simply use what’s available to you. (Like I did!) What’s important is that you do not overcook the noodles into super soggy strands.
Perhaps the most “difficult” part of this dish are the Soy-Marinated Ramen Eggs. And I use that word very loosely, because it’s not THAT hard. It’s kind of ironic when the topping is the one that needs the most effort and time compared to the main dish, but in this case, it’s worth it. Ramen Eggs are one of my favorite things in the world so I will always say that it’s worth it lol, but no, really, make everything. Even though I added the word “optional” in the recipe box below for the Ramen Eggs, do yourself a favor and make it anyway.
- INVEST IN GOOD QUALITY SEASONINGS FOR THE TARE. Because this recipe counts on store-bought seasoning a lot, you will only get good results if you purchase good quality seasoning. If you happen to be at a loss which brands you should be buying, I’ve shared a photo of the brands I personally like using. The hontsuyu soup base is from Kikkoman, and the unsweetened soy milk is from Lactasoy. Not pictured is the chili oil and chicken bouillon I used, and that is Lao Gan Ma and Knorr chicken cubes respectively. Of course, I’m not saying you have to use the exact same brands I did. I’m merely giving you an idea.
- PREPARE THE COMPONENTS IN A SEQUENCE THAT MAKES SENSE FOR YOU. The instructions I shared below features the sequence that I personally feel works out best in producing a hot bowl of ramen after cooking all the components one at a time. Taking into consideration the fact that it’s hard for the normal home cook to monitor several pots and pans all at once, I would suggest that you make the broth last so that even if you cooked the noodles early, it will warm right up when you add in the hot broth. For me, I always make the tare first to give the flavors time to meld together. The next step would be to cook the meat topping since it’s fairly easy to reheat it if necessary. I keep it covered in the pan I cooked it in and it’s usually still hot when it’s time for me to assemble. The bok choy and the noodles come next, and as mentioned, the soup base is last. Feel free to rearrange the sequence to what feels more natural to you.
- THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO ASSEMBLE AND EAT YOUR TANTANMEN. Whether you decide to mix the tare and the soup base together before ladling into the bowls, or you prefer adding the ramen in after the broth, you can do whatever the heck you want. You can also add as much toppings and garnish as you desire. If you want to have more than two sheets of nori or an exorbitant amount of bok choy, go right ahead. That’s the entire point of making something at home, isn’t it?
Easy Homemade Tantanmen Ramen
For the Tare (Seasoning Sauce)
- 3 Tablespoons hontsuyu
- 2 Tablespoons sesame paste
- 1 Tablespoon chili oil
For the meat topping
- 2 Tablespoons chili oil, or regular cooking oil if you don’t like it too spicy
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic, about 3 cloves
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 Tablespoon tobanjiang, Chinese chili bean paste
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 250 grams ground pork
- 3 Tablespoons rice wine
For the soup
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups unsweetened soy milk, oat milk or cashew milk will also work
- 2 teaspoons chicken powder or 1 cube chicken bouillon
- Baby bok choy, bottoms cut and leaves separated
- 2 portions fresh, frozen or dried ramen noodles
- 2 soy-marinated ramen eggs, cut into half (optional but highly recommended!)
- Green onions, chopped (optional)
- Toasted sesame seeds, optional
- Nori sheets, optional
Make the tare
- In a medium bowl of measuring glass, whisk together all ingredients for tare until smooth. Set aside.
Make the meat topping
- Heat a medium wok or saucepan over high heat. Add chili oil/oil, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add tobanjiang and oyster sauce, then stir fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute until aroma is released as well.
- Add in the ground pork and break down with your spatula, stirring to coat all the meat with the seasonings. Splash in the rice wine and continue to stir fry another 3 to 4 minutes until pork is fully cooked and most of the juices have cooked off. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Prepare to assemble the ramen
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a little bit of salt. Add in the bok choy and blanch for about 1 minute, until the leaves are very green. Remove from water and drain the bok choy. Using the same boiled water, cook your ramen noodles according to package instructions. Drain and divide between two serving bowls.
When ready to serve, make the soup
- In a medium pot, combine water, soy milk, and chicken powder/bouillon. Bring to a light simmer, mixing occasionally, but do not allow to boil. Remove from heat and immediately divide between the two serving bowls.
- Give your prepared tare one last whisk to make sure anything that’s settled at the bottom gets incorporated again, then divide this among the two serving bowls. Briefly give the broth a little mix. Divide the meat topping between the two bowl, then top with as much bok choy as you like. Top with ramen egg halves, plus the green onions and sesame seeds, if using. Enjoy!
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