Ramen at Home: The Cookbook that redefines DIY Japan Soul Food
Mac, Founder and Lead Guide of Maction Planet, reviews the latest ramen cookbook to drop. He finds, like the bowl itself, that there is more to it than meets the eye…
Brian MacDuckston is without a doubt one of the world’s leading experts on ramen. Having run his ramen blog Ramen Adventures for almost a decade, he regularly appears in print and other media around the world, giving an accessibility to the diverse world of Japan’s soul food. His first book, a guide to his 50 favourite shops in Tokyo, has proven so popular that a second volume is in the works. But what if you can’t get to Japan, or your local neighbourhood has no authentic ramen? Brian’s latest book is just for you.
Titled Ramen at Home: The Easy Japanese Cookbook for Classic Ramen and Bold New Flavors this is the cookbook ramen fans have been waiting for.
While other ramen cookbooks do exist, I have never seen one as comprehensive as this. 50 different ramen recipes are included, broken down into the main categories of Shio, Shoyu, Miso and Tonkatsu and “Other”. This final section truly demonstrates the diversity of ramen and how far it has come from its humble origins – from Tsukemen to Hiyashi Chuka to Abura Soba.
One thing that really differentiates this book is the range of recipes and the commentary around each one. This is not another book written by someone sitting in LA who visits Japan from time to time. Brian has written over 1000 ramen reviews on his site, and this book is a distillation of that knowledge. As a result, the reader gets access to some rare recipes which only someone with his experience can bring to the world, be it Morioka-style Cold Ramen, Seafood Miso Ramen in the style of renowned Ajinokaryu in Sapporo, or an Onion Shoyu Ramen inspired by Takeoka, a little known ramen style from the Boso Peninsula!
A great bowl starts with solid foundations, and Brian describes these in detail. Tare, soup, noodles and toppings are broken down with step-by-step instructions before they come together in the ramen recipes outlined above.
The section on side dishes, from onigiri to gyoza to karage, is excellent and serves to make the book useful even for those for whom ramen is not the main focus (although, frankly, who could imagine such a thing).
This is much much more than a collection of recipes. In this tome, Brian goes into detail about the history and culture of ramen, even how to eat it in true local style! Even if making a bowl of ramen is beyond you, this book is invaluable in giving you an appreciation of the complexity involved in delivering a truly unique bowl.
My only slight criticism is the lack of photos of completed recipes. But perhaps this is itself in the creative spirit of the book, and certainly in the spirit of ramen here in Tokyo. As Brian himself writes, “Regardless of what goes into a bowl, if the noodles themselves resemble their Chinese ancestors, ramen has no limits.”
Whether in The World’s Greatest Metropolis or beyond, you’ll never look at a bowl of ramen in the same light again.
To grab a copy of Ramen at Home, click here: Ramen at Home: The Easy Japanese Cookbook for Classic Ramen and Bold New Flavors
For those who want to wear their love of ramen, Maction Planet x Ramen Adventures exclusive apparel is available here