Tantanmen (担々麺), is a hot and spicy ramen, similar to Dan Dan Noodles but served in soup. Ramen noodle soups are found in a variety of flavors – most notably miso ramen (made with miso paste), shio ramen (made with salty broth), shoyu ramen (made with soy sauce), and tonkatsu ramen (made with pork bones). But none of these ramens are particularly spicy – and this is why I think Tantanmen is such a popular dish. The spicy taste of chili oil is so delicious with ramen soup and complements it perfectly.
Tantanmen can be found in Japan in many noodle shops and is especially popular in Taiwanese or Chinese restaurants. I use a chicken broth base flavored with both rayu (chili oil) and sesame oil to give the broth a deep red color and an aromatic flavor.
The toppings can vary, but I always like to add in soft egg (known as yude-tomago), which is a six minute hard boiled egg. The egg yolk remains soft and runny while the white hardens up a bit. Other toppings include menma (which are picked bamboo chutes), sesame seeds, and a protein such as tofu, ground chicken or pork, or roasted pork belly (chashu). Other delicious toppings could include scallions, mushrooms, or mung beans. The important thing is to personalize your Tantanmen with the toppings you like most.
The ramen noodles are the most important ingredient and you want them to not be overcooked and soft. You can use instant ramen noodles (throw out the sauce pack), freeze dried or fresh. Make sure to cook them for the minimum recommended time because you are going to pour your hot soup over them which with soften them up a little more.
Chili Oil is flavored with chili, and usually garlic and or onion. It will add lots of flavor and give the dish its distinctive red color; however, if you want it super spicy, you can also add in some cayenne pepper to suit your own taste.