Hopeless Ramen-tic: 6 Veggies to Add to Your Next Ramen Bowl

Far superior than the packages of instant ramen spewing out of college dorm rooms nationwide, authentic Japanese ramen has caught the attention of foodies from coast to coast. Japanese ramen has countless regional variants and alternate styles, but they all share one thing in common: a fondness for toppings. Along with meats, eggs, and spices, vegetables complete the deep unison of flavors that makes ramen bowls truly special. Consider adding a few of these choice favorites to your next bowl!

Scallions

Potentially the most prevalent vegetable topping of them all, scallions are a constant companion to ramen bowls. Their mild onion flavor helps bring out other savory flavors in the bowl without overpowering them, creating a stronger sense of flavor. Whenever you add scallions, be sure to slice them really thin and toss them throughout the bowl to get a nice zing in every bite.

  • Pro Tip: For best results, slice your scallions diagonally. 

Seaweed

A common through line in every type of ramen, seaweed has our vote for most flexible ramen topping. The many types of seaweed help prove this flexibility; for example, dried nori sheets can add a nice crunch to many bowls while fresh wakame seaweed offers more of a chewy tenderness. Regardless of which variety you choose, adding seaweed is always a good decision. 

Bean Sprouts

Known as moyashi in Japanese ramen joints, raw or cooked bean sprouts are found in all sorts of different ramen dishes. Bean sprouts are a great option for chefs who are looking to add a tad more sweetness, as they have a gentle flavor profile that won’t take away from other savory notes. On top of that, bean sprouts have a crunchy texture that your patrons may not be expecting.

Cabbage

If you’ve found that your ramen tastes “too rich,” adding kimchi can help balance out your flavor profile. The brilliant spiciness of kimchi tampers out strong oily flavors and replaces them with an underlying heat. Fresh cabbage can be a great partner too, but it doesn’t have as much flavor as its fermented counterpart.

  • Pro Tip: For extra spice, add kimchi juice too!

Corn

Though this may seem to be an odd choice for ramen bowls, corn is actually a pretty common ingredient in Northern Japan. Chefs in the Hokkaido prefecture, birthplace of the popular Miso ramen, often top their bowls with a combination of cooked corn and butter to bring an added layer of creaminess.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a cultural icon in Japan, so their presence in ramen should come as no surprise. Interestingly enough, ramen bowls tend to use dehydrated wood ear mushrooms which tend to be milder than other mushrooms. Additionally, like all mushrooms, wood ears are a good source of glutamates, which enrich every other flavor in the bowl!