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執筆 上野陽子
2012/11 Up

第30回 全国のラーメンを英語で楽しもう!
Vol.30 Let's enjoy all of Japan's regional ramen specialties in English!

Who was the very first person to eat ramen in Japan?

日本の国民食は数あれど、海外で人気は寿司、天ぷら、すき焼きなど。日本人の日常食では、カレーライス、牛丼、そして何といってもラーメン! の声が多く聞かれます。今回はその中からラーメンを見てみましょう!

* 赤い色の語句の上にマウスカーソルを移動させる(スマホの場合はタップする)と語注が表示されます

Who first ate ramen in Japan?

Ramen is a Japanese noodle and soup dish which originated in China. When you make ramen you add eggs and slice the noodles thinly, while many people also add alkaline water to the mix (which is different from the method for making udon). It is said that the first person to eat ramen in Japan was Mito Mitsukuni, a famous lord, and that ramen was introduced to ordinary people in the Meiji era via Chinatown in Yokohama.
Now ramen is one of the most popular foods in Japan along with curry and rice. There are various kinds of ramen depending on how the soup is made, the thickness of the noodles and the flavorings. There are also regional varieties of ramen.


麺 Noodles

Ramen noodles are made by mixing flour, salt, food additive alkaline water, eggs and other ingredients. The gluten of the wheat acts as a binding agent, and is important for the chewiness, firmness and elasticity of the noodles. There are various different shapes of noodle (straight, curly, handmade and others), each of which is suited to different kinds of soups that vary in texture and thickness.


スープ Soup

Soup stock for ramen may be made from seafood, chicken bones, pork bones or various other ingredients. It is seasoned with soy sauce, miso, salt and other flavorings depending on the region.


Ramen for home cooking

インスタント麺(袋) Instant dried noodles

Put a block of dried ramen into boiled water and boil it with vegetables and meat for a few minutes. Add the accompanying soup powder and stir.


カップ麺 Cup noodles

Instant noodles with freeze-dried vegetables and soup are sold in a plastic handleless cup. Pour hot water into the cup and wait for about three minutes.


生麺 Fresh noodles

Fresh noodles with soup and spices are packed and sold at stores. These are almost the same as instant noodles, but fresh noodles are usually boiled separately from the other ingredients. Noodles produced by famous ramen restaurants all over Japan are available in shops.


Some examples of regional Japanese ramen specialties*

札幌ラーメン Sapporo ramen (Hokkaido)

Miso ramen seasoned with hot and spicy miso and garlic. The ramen noodles are boiled in a soup with vegetables that have been fried in plenty of lard and garlic.


旭川ラーメン Asahikawa ramen (Hokkaido)

Soy sauce is added to a mixture of fish, pork and chicken stock. Usually thin, curly noodles are used.


喜多方ラーメン Kitakata ramen (Fukushima)

Pork and fish stock are made separately and mixed later to make the soup. Noodles are usually thick, flat, curly and firm.


東京ラーメン Tokyo ramen (Tokyo)

Clear chicken stock is mixed with fish stock made from bonito flakes, and seasoned with soy sauce.


サンマーメン Sanmamen (Kanagawa)

A kind of ramen with thin noodles, seasoned with salt or soy sauce, that's popular in the Yokohama and Shonan area. A starchy, thick sauce with fried bean sprouts and other vegetables is poured on the top.


博多ラーメン Hakata ramen (Fukuoka)

Usually uses a lightly flavored white soup made from boiled pork bones and vegetables, and very thin, straight noodles.


熊本ラーメン Kumamoto ramen (Kumamoto)

A very rich, white soup is made from a mixture of pork bone stock and chicken stock. A medium sized, straight noodle is usually preferred.


The very first person to eat ramen in Japan was Mito Mitsukuni. Also it is said that ramen became popular with ordinary people during the Meiji era, via Chinatown in Yokohama.


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