Shirakawa is one of the smallest cities on my ramen guide. What makes Shirakawa style ramen unique, and how did it come to a city of only 60,000?
The broth of this ramen can be made with chicken or pork, I used a fusion of the two. This can be seen in Shirakawa as well. What can’t be compromised on is the soy sauce, as well as some naruto fish cakes and spinach.Jump to Recipe
How to Make Shirakawa Style Ramen Broth
As far as ramen broths go, this one is pretty easy. I used a mix of chicken and pork broth, but you can also use just one or the other. I have detailed instructions for how to make a tonkotsu (pork bone broth) in my Hakata ramen recipe.
From here, add mirin, sake, soy sauce, and salt (if necessary). The noodles for Shirakawa style ramen are usually thin and curly. If you add a little sesame oil right before serving the broth, the fat helps the broth cling to the noodles better.
This is the basic version. You can add a bunch of other ingredients to add different flavors. For flavors of the sea, bonito flakes (katsuobushi) are a really prevalent ramen ingredient. Niboshi (dried sardines) and wakame (dried kelp) are also great additions.
A couple other ideas are shiitake mushrooms for an even meatier flavor, garlic, ginger, and the white ends of your green onions.
For starters, let’s talk about the most common topping, the chashu pork. I’ve made a ton of this lately, but I haven’t really tired of it. The secret is in the marinade. There’s so many ways you can change it up. I like to think there are 4 flavors you want to use in a chashu pork marinade: salty, spicy, sweet, and savory.
Marinating Chashu Pork
My theory is that you want at least 3 of these layers of flavor. For example, soy sauce can provide some extra saltiness. Mirin, sake, and brown sugar are all sweetness options. Oyster sauce is a little sweet and a little savory. Five spice powder is more funky than actually spicy, but I’ll count it here. I tried gochujang paste on my last attempt and that worked fantastically.
Now that the vegetarians have stopped reading, I’ll talk about the veggies for Shirakawa style ramen. Nori (seaweed) comes in little packages, so you don’t have to prepare that at all. I add the green onions raw, I like the little bit of crunch they still have that way. Spinach is the only one I manipulate here. I like to lightly fry it with a little sesame oil, then add either vinegar or soy sauce to finish. It has a slight bitterness that contrasts the rest really well.
The last topping is mandatory for Shirakawa style ramen, the kamaboko, or naruto fish cake. You can usually find this in the frozen section of an Asian grocery store. To prepare it, all you have to do is boil it for about 5 minutes. Then, thinly slice it and it’s ready to serve!
Shirakawa Style Ramen
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups pork broth (tonkotsu)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sake
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- ⅓ lb pork belly (chashu, sliced)
- ½ tbsp sesame oil
- 6 narutomaki slices
- ½ cup spinach (cooked)
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 4 nori
- 2 spring onions (sliced)
- 2 packages ramen noodles
- Mix all broth ingredients except the sesame oil in a large pot. Simmer on medium low heat for 30 minutes, add sesame oil a few minutes before serving.
- Add sesame oil to a skillet and heat up on medium heat. Add slices of chashu pork to the skillet, sear on each side for a minute.
- Remove pork, add spinach to skillet, fry for 3 minutes, add soy sauce towards the end.
- Boil narutomaki (if frozen) for 5 minutes, take out and slice.
- Boil ramen noodles for 5 minutes, or according to directions on package.
- Add broth to bowls, add noodles, add pork, nori, spring onion, narutomaki, and spinach. Enjoy!