what to eat with ramen

What to Eat with Ramen: 13 Authentic Japanese Sides

Nothing makes your tummy feel warmer than a bowl of steaming hot, delicious Japanese ramen. The chewy wheat noodles and umami-rich soup will have you smacking your lips throughout the meal. However, the chosen toppings and side dishes make every ramen bowl unique and taste more extraordinary.

Toppings are a typical accompaniment for ramen as it’s usually a one-bowl meal. However, side dishes are welcome too! If you’re looking for ideas about what to eat with ramen, this article showcases traditional and authentic recipes for both toppings and side dishes; thus, pick from the best 12 recipes!

1. Chashu (Braised Pork Belly)

Chashu is one of the most classic ramen toppings; hence, it’s also called ramen pork. It is made by braising a tied-up pork belly roll in a savory mixture of soy sauce, sake, sugar, honey, water, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Each slice of chashu is decadent and so tender they melt in your mouth, along with the umami, sweet, and savory flavors.

2. Kakuni (Japanese Pork Belly)

Some recipes refer to kakuni as braised pork belly, so you might think it’s the same as chashu. Indeed, the former is used as an alternative to chashu ramen topping. But while both are typically made of pork belly, the flavorings and appearances differ because kakuni isn’t rolled or tied up. Moreover, its braising liquid is made of dashi stock, mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar.

3. Narutomaki (Steamed Fish Cake)

If you’ve watched or read Naruto, you’ll know that the title character LOVES ramen. His steaming bowl of noodles is topped with assorted goodies, but one that stands out is the circular pieces with a pink swirl. That topping is called narutomaki or steamed fish cake; yes, Naruto was named after it. You can buy ready-made naurotomaki, but you can also make it at home with this recipe!

4. Ajitsuke Tamago (Ramen Egg)

Another iconic ramen topping is ajitsuke tamago, AKA ramen or soy sauce marinated eggs. Some even swear they can do without the chashu and other toppings, so long as a jammy, umami egg is in the bowl! It’s easy to make this dish at home, although a bit time-consuming as the eggs have to marinate in the soy sauce mixture for at least two hours!

5. Menma (Pickled Bamboo Shoots)

Pandas aren’t the only animals that eat bamboo – you can too! There are many bamboo dishes, including menma or pickled bamboo shoots. You can use it as a unique ramen topping, and it provides many novel tastes and textures, along with a pleasant crunch. It’s quick and easy to make; you’ll need only bamboo shoots, sesame oil, garlic, water, chicken bouillon powder, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.

6. Shiraga Negi (Green Onion Garnish)

For ramen, the simplest toppings make the best ones, and shiraga negi or julienned Japanese long green onions are an example. You can use a scallion if you don’t have a Japanese long green onion. Breaking down those green onions’ white stalks and slicing them into fine strips seems daunting and intricate. Still, with enough practice and this guide, you’ll nail it down quickly.

7. Gyoza (Potstickers)

Although ramen isn’t usually served with a side dish, many make an exception for gyoza or potstickers. These are Japanese dumplings traditionally filled with seasoned ground pork and cabbage, although some also use shrimp and other veggies. The assembled gyoza are steam-fried, so they get a gorgeous sear on their wrappers while retaining some juiciness. They come out delicious and chewy, ready to complete your ramen meal.

8. Edamame (Soybeans)

Edamame is young soybeans that are often served as a snack or appetizer. However, some Japanese restaurants serve them with ramen to make a meal set, so rest assured, they’re great with your noodles. Some recipes like adding flavorings, like soy or chili, to the edamame pods, but this recipe sticks to the basics by boiling and then salting them.

9. Beni Shoga (Japanese Red Ginger Pickles)

Ginger is yellow, so how come Japanese restaurants serve pink ones? Well, that’s because they pickle them with umezu or plum vinegar to make beni shoga! Umezu provides a red-purple color, so this dish is also known as Japanese red ginger pickles. They come off as very cool and refreshing, thus, contrasting the ramen heat. Serve them on the side, although some use them as a topping.

10. Wakame (Seaweed Salad)

Many ramen bowls include nori or dried seaweed as topping; others swap it for plain wakame, fresh Japanese seaweed. However, to make your seaweed more flavorful and a dish on its own, use wakame to make a refreshing salad. It’s simple and delicious, and you don’t need fresh wakame; you can use dried, cut ones and combine them with water and Asian flavorings.

11. Yakitori (Japanese Skewered Chicken

Ramen isn’t usually served with meat because the toppings, noodles, and soup are dense and satisfying enough. However, yakitori, or grilled chicken skewers, are light enough, so they aren’t overwhelming. They also contribute incredible, irresistible flavors – the perfect balance of smoky, caramelized, savory, and umami. Even if you don’t use this for ramen, save the recipe – it would make a great addition to the barbecue menu.

12. Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

Another chicken dish that’s excellent with ramen is karaage, or Japanese fried chicken. The textures are different from yakitori because this one has more crunchiness and crispiness from the breading. However, it’s as delicious and fun to eat as the chicken is cut into bite-sized, nuggets-like pieces. Karaage is marinated and then deep-fried, so if you lack the time or don’t like oil, this might not be best for you.

13. Ebi Fry (Panko Shrimp)

If you’re not a big fan of chicken, get some shrimp and make ebi furai, AKA ebi fry or panko shrimp! Like karaage, it’s crispy because the large prawns are coated with Japanese breadcrumbs. Indeed, you can hear the crunch with every bite, and the seafood meat is irresistibly tender. Once you’ve had these, it’ll change how you eat seafood.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.