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Quick and tasty Japanese and Chinese noodle soup base?

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I love Japanese noodle soup for quick meals at home, and I love trying different brands of noodles both thick and thin, dry and fresh. Luckily there are a number of large Japanese/Korean supermarkets near where I live too so selection is good.

But I find myself mostly making a pretty simple broth and am getting a little bored with it. Would love to hear about some good ideas.

I usually just do an instant dashi (Hondashi is the only brand I ever tried) mixed with mirin and soy sauce. Maybe play with some salt or miso or the small silver stock fish (forgot the name). Throw in some seaweed, or sometimes shrimp, mushroom, or pieces of meat, maybe an egg. Maybe some shaved katsuobushi. But most of the broths don't really come out that different. And I would like to perhaps make a meatier broth, or thicker, fattier broth.

I also love Chinese noodle soups but these to me are somehow harder than Japanese noodles to make at home because there's really no one way to make it. No well defined recipe. I guess for now I am interested to make a basic "la mian" type of meaty soup. Or a Cantonese BBQ shop style with the yellow noodles. What are some ways to easily make these? Please help!

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  1. i don't know if this will help you at all, but as I am a soup and noodle fiend myself, I also use a Korean beef broth powder as well as a Chinese mushroom broth powder. Sorry I don't have the names for you, I repackage my powdered broths into sealed containers. Both these broths add that that meatier urgami taste.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Quine

      I've heard that powdered mushroom is a sort of secret ingredient that guarantees delicious taste...I've always wanted to try it! Where did you get yours, out of curiosity?

    2. Maybe you could rent Tampopo
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampopo
      Central to that story is the quest for the perfect ramen soup, not just the noodles, but the broth itself.

      There have been lots of threads about making stock, usually chicken or beef. But for this purpose you may want to explore making a pork stock. A large Asian grocery like 99Ranch sells many pork parts that are suitable for stock, such as feet, hocks, necks, 'button bone'. Parts with a lot of skin give a lot a of body to the broth, though roast meaty parts give more flavor.

      But also keep in mind that an unsalted broth will taste bland. You could use soy sauce or related Asian sauces to add the salt and other flavor to your broth.

      I usually have a bottle of Japanese noodle soup base on hand. It is largely soy sauce, with bonito, msg, etc added. Diluted a bit with cold water it is a dipping sauce for soba (buckwheet noodles). Diluted with hot water it is the start of a soup.

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        Thanks. I've seen that movie before. For something intense like that I would just go to a dedicated noodle shop rather than making it myself.

        I am looking for more of tips to make decent broths at home easily. As well as tips on variations.

        I have the kind of noodle soup base you mentioned at home as well. Mostly I use it for cold soba. The problem with this one is that it doesn't make a meaty tasting soup. Maybe I can combine with chicken stock?

      2. For chinese style noodle soups, I use chicken broth (homemade or store bought), dash of soy sauce, salt, chopped green onions, ginger. Sometimes I add some slice shitake mushroom (and the soaking liquid), and roasted seaweed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gnomatic

          I just made a similar soup - it could have been better but it had noodles and stock and fresh cabbage with a bit of chili paste with garlic

          next time will have to get scallions for color and taste

        2. 2 yrs late to the party, but here's my 2 cents anyways ... i get good results from a homemade stock mixed with the flavoring packets in the perishable-type ramen packs; both liquid and powdered types have worked well with my broth ... i like the noodles cooked firm, a big handful of finely chopped green onion, some nice thinly sliced char siu pork (even the cheap stuff from the fast Chinese food spots work but i recommend decent stuff from a Chinese deli) and maybe a boiled egg ... i don't necessarily get a whole lot of flavor from the stock swap, but i do get a lot of body and i'm guessing that is at least part of what you're after with your quest for "meaty-ness"in broths/stocks ... the stock is as basic as it gets, chicken or chicken & pork, simmer & skim, refrigerate and skim ... if i wanna get fancy i'll add aromatics for the last 30-40 mins, and if i wanna get really fancy i roast some bones and char some of the aromatics ... i've only used this broth with ramen ... i have recently found a very intriguing recipe (looks simple but haven't tried it) for Tonkatsu ramen broth, my very favorite type ... i'd be happy to share that with you if you like

          you mention Chinese yellow/egg noodles in ur post also, and i'd like to develop a stock for this application too, the problem i'm having is. i can't use my little ramen trick since they don't really sell a make-@-home version for these noodles ... i have access to plenty of noodles, but i'm gonna have to experiment a little to develop a go-to broth like i have for my ramen; i'll do some research and hopefully find a recipe or two that work for me ... have you found any recipes that work for you with these types of noodles?

          1. I make about a quart and a half of chinese soups once a week for a group of 10, including 2 older Chinese who really prefer their native cuisine.

            Every 10 weeks, I take several jours to make up 10 packets of the base, and freeze it. Each packet contains:
            1.5 t minced ginger
            1.5 t minced garlic
            3T extra dry sherry
            2T kikkoman lowered sodium soy
            2 rounded spoons dry Chinese soup chicken soup base
            (Knor brand,
            sold in Chinese groceries,
            the spoon is in the package)
            1/4 c sauteed sliced onion,
            red pepper, carrots,and celery
            1/4 t black pepper

            Then when I make soup, I simmer one packet with 4 c water for 10 minutes, and make it into egg drop, won ton, hot and sour, or Chinese watercress soup.

            Each week I add different side ingredients:

            chicken or pork sometimes

            one dried Chinese garnish, softened for 20 minutes in warm water:
            black mushrooms, tiget lilies, wood or tree ears

            One or two veggies, often including a Chinese green.

            At the end of the10 minutes cooking, I add one of several seaweeds, softened.

            Most weeks, I make egg drop because it is easier., adding 6 beaten eggs, while stirring soup in a circular dore tion.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lizmom

              How is the chinese soup chicken base different from the Knorr chicken soup base sold at regular stores?

            2. You can make a good very quick soup base by using either boxed chicken broth, or a mix of broth and dashi, coupled with a homemade ramen base. You can use the packets you get from packaged ramen but the homemade one is much better. Of course it would be better to use a pork stock but even using chicken stock with the ramen base is still very good and quick.

              You can make the base once and it will last for weeks. It's essentially soy sauce, sake, and a lot of aromatics & flavorings. Morimoto has a recipe for a version of the base here:

              http://www.foodreference.com/html/mor...

              You can make a completely different kind of Japanese noodle soup base very quickly, which is used for soba and somen. Essentially that is dashi, flavored with with a mix of equal portions of soy sauce and sake.

              1 Reply
              1. re: calumin

                "You can use the packets you get from packaged ramen"

                Thank you for that - I forgot that I have tried the ramen packets without the fried noodles to make soup and it turned out quite well

                :()

              2. If you want the kind of complexity (meaty, fatty, thick) you're talking about, you basically have to make your own homemade stock or broth. Sorry, but I don't have a quick fix to help you. The good news is, though, that buying soup bones is easy and cheap if you have a neighborhood butcher.

                Anyway, since it sounds like broth is a key ingredient for you, another thing you should try is soaking kombu and dried shiitake together, this provides a really good basis...it takes planning ahead but it makes a huge difference and is worth it if you care as much as it seems you do. It won't provide a fatty, meaty taste, but it will greatly enhance the flavor. From there you can go through the process of boiling the kombu etc to make dashi, or you can just use the soaking water to add things to...add your hon dashi or whatever else you do. This is kinda weird of me, but I also like to add furikake (rice seasoning).

                I feel like this reply might be slightly unhelpful, and it is also about 3 years too late, but I think about broth a lot so I wanted to chime in. I think other people said some really helpful things, but in the end, you have to watch out for how much salt you're using! And that adds up really fast if you're using miso, and soy sauce/tamari, and instant dashi, and and and...the shortcuts work in the moment but you always end up paying the price somehow.

                1 Reply
                1. re: treestonerivershrub

                  i do appreciate you chiming in, cooking's for life so it's kinda never too late to join the party ... great input! as you picked up on, i only really have experience with more 'classical' stock building techniques (i.,e. boiling bones and aromatics) so the recommended kombu and shitake soaking techniques do interest me, i'll definitely look into that; the furikake thing isn't strange (to me @ least) as the flavors involved would seem to gel well with stocks, but i guess it is a bit unconventional

                  the funny thing abt ur timing is i just found out about a Japanese supermarket a cpl of weeks ago and then soon after *boom* i get a reply on this thread; heh, must be a sign that i need to get in the kitchen

                  one correction tho (*ahem* this is always a little awkward) stocks get their richness from collagen not fat, altho the textures and flavors are essentially the same ... in classical stock making, the fat is always skimmed off during cooking or removed in a congealed layer once cooled ... in some applications, such as the tonkatsu broth i brought up, fat is added in to finish a broth

                  i'm still working on a good chinese style broth; i recently got a BOATLOAD of quality egg noodles from a family friend and have been trying to create a good chinese stock @ home for them, even referring back to this post for some of the suggestions, but to date i've had mixed results ... of course, i'll keep @ it ... again, thanks for your input