Tsukemen (つけ麺) is a Japanese noodle dish where ramen is dipped in a thick, flavourful broth. The springy, cold ramen noodles are served separately from the hot dipping broth. With that, noodle lovers can satisfy their summer cravings with refreshing mouthfuls.
Some people prefer this noodle dish over ramen because they can choose how many noodles to dip in the thick broth. It perfectly defines a balance between texture and temperature.
Our easy tsukemen recipe will show you how to recreate these dipping noodles from the comfort of your home. We have tweaked the authentic recipe slightly by using chicken instead of pork to make our broth. Furthermore, we will show you how to make an equally delish vegetarian and vegan version.
So, continue reading to add this dish to your summertime go-to menu.
- What Are Tsukemen Noodles Made Of?
- What's the Difference Between Tsukemen and Ramen
- Tsukemen Ingredients
- Chicken Tsukemen Broth
- Tsukemen Ramen Noodles
- Yuzu (Optional)
- How to Make Tsukemen (Chicken)
- Vegan Tsukemen Recipe
- Cooking Tips
- How Do You Eat Tsukemen?
- Can You Drink Tsukemen Broth?
- What to Do With Leftover Tsukemen?
- Tsukemen Recipe (Dipping Chicken Ramen)
What Are Tsukemen Noodles Made Of?
This heartwarming dish consists of ramen noodles, broth, and toppings. The noodles are usually cooked and then rinsed in cold water. Meanwhile, the dipping broth is made of a thick, hot soup made from protein sources like chicken or pork. Finally, it is served with toppings like green onions, eggs, and dried bonito flakes.
What's the Difference Between Tsukemen and Ramen
The main difference between ramen and tsukemen is that the noodles are served separately from the broth in the latter. You must dunk the cold, chewy noodles in the hot soup base to eat this dipping noodle dish. Meanwhile, ramen is usually served by combining noodles and hot soup in the same bowl.
The broth from this Japanese dish is also thicker and saltier than its popular counterpart. In comparison, ramen soup has a lighter, umami taste with a slightly salty and savoury flavour. Additionally, tsukemen noodles are often softer, chewier, and bigger than regular ramen noodles.
The ingredients you will need to make this dipping noodle dish are chicken tsukemen broth, ramen noodles, and toppings.
Chicken Tsukemen Broth
For an enjoyable thick soup, you need to make chicken tsukemen broth. This thick soup base is made separately for dipping chewy noodles.
It is packed with a rich umami flavour and spicy aftertaste from the doubanjiang (chilli bean paste). This savoury base also has a thick and slurry texture. It is best served while it is hot. When dipping, the broth will stick to the noodles.
So, you will taste a balance between the neutral-tasting, chewy noodles and the bold, savoury flavours of the hot chicken broth.
Thick Tsukemen Broth Ingredients
To make our thick tsukemen broth, you need:
- Doubanjiang (Chilli bean paste)
- Soy sauce
- Miso paste
- Clove garlic
- Ground black pepper
- Sesame oil
Adding mentsuyu is a prerequisite when making a deeply flavorful dipping broth. This soup base tastes sweet and salty with a hint of a smoky aroma. It also introduces a rich umami flavour and a delicate savoury aftertaste.
Mentsuyu is made from soy sauce (shoyu), sake, mirin, dried kelp (kombu) and bonito flakes (katsuobushi). You can easily make this soup base at home using our easy mentsuyu recipe.
However, you can also use the store-bought version for convenience. When buying mentsuyu, please read the label because it is usually sold in condensed or diluted versions. For this thick tsukemen recipe, choose the condensed type as it offers a saltier and more umami taste.
Since this condiment is concentrated, you only need ¼ cup of mentsuyu to make the soup. If you use the diluted type, you will need a ⅓ cup for a bolder and more robust taste.
Homemade mentsuyu can last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, most store-bought versions lasts up to a month once it is opened.
While you can use any part of the chicken in our best tsukemen recipe, chicken thigh is the best option for a thicker broth. This cut of meat helps to achieve a velvety texture. With all the collagen and fatty content in chicken thighs that disintegrate when cooked, your soup will have a thicker mouthfeel.
Alternatively, you could also use chicken breast. Chicken breast is relatively tender and can easily blend with other flavours. However, using chicken breast will result in a lighter soup as it's the healthiest cut of meat with a low fat content.
You only need about 100g of chicken thigh or breast for a rich, savoury flavour. There is no need to remove the skin because the fat underneath it adds depth and a richer mouthfeel to the dipping broth.
Alternatively, a substitute that you can use is chicken stock powder. This powder is more convenient if you don't have the time to cook the meat. Furthermore, it adds a rich, salty and earthy taste to the broth while giving the same chicken-like flavours. To use this substitute, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken stock powder when cooking the broth.
The standard meat used in a traditional tsukemen recipe is pork. This type of meat has more fat and collagen, producing a slightly cloudy and greasy broth. However, our recipe produces a healthier broth that is thicker. The thickness comes from incorporating a cornstarch slurry when cooking the soup.
Doubanjiang is made from chillies, fermented soybeans, and broad beans. Adding this thick bean paste will introduce spice, sweetness, and a slightly salty aftertaste to your broth. It also adds a reddish-brown hue to the soup's colour.
Add one tablespoon of doubanjiang when cooking the chicken. The meat will be able to fully absorb the flavours from this spicy paste.
Alternatively, you can also use gochujang to get a similar spicy hit. Gochujang tastes sweeter and tangy with mildly umami undernotes. You only need one tablespoon of gochujang in this chicken tsukemen recipe.
Tsukemen Ramen Noodles
When it comes to noodles, the best type to use is thick ramen noodles. These noodles measure at least 2.5mm in thickness. Thick noodles have a chewier bite and a bouncier consistency. Their thickness also makes it easier to absorb the broth.
To achieve a similar quality to one of Japan's best Tsukemen restaurant, Tomita Ramen, you should also use noodles that have a straight and cylindrical shape. These types of noodles have a lower surface area with no curls. Therefore, you can thoroughly coat the noodles and taste the dipping broth.
Alternatively, you can use udon noodles in our yuzu tsukemen recipe. Udon is made from milled flour, water, and salt. It has a mild flavour with a chewy, smooth mouthfeel and springy texture. The udons' thickness also makes them an excellent partner to the dipping broth.
There are also other healthy alternatives to ramen, like Moringa or rice noodles that you can use in this noodle dish. Feel free to experiment with these substitutes if you dislike instant noodles. While you can make these noodles at home, buying them is far more convenient. Moreover, the store-bought version is cheaper and quicker to use.
For this dish, add one serving of thick ramen noodles (or a noodle of your choice) to a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Avoid cooking this tsukemen ingredient for more than 5 minutes to prevent its texture from turning soggy.
For one serving of our authentic tsukemen recipe, we use ½ boiled egg, two tablespoons of dried bonito flakes, and two tablespoons of green onions as toppings. These extra ingredients add a boost of flavour and texture to the overall dish.
The boiled egg will introduce extra protein, whereas the dried bonito flakes accentuate the broth with a burst of umami. Meanwhile, green onions add a gentle freshness and a slightly pungent aftertaste to the dish.
Add some yuzu for a hint of fresh fragrance and a sweet and sour tang. You can either add one tablespoon of yuzu juice into the broth or garnish this dish with ¼ cup of yuzu skin for an extra citrusy crunchiness.
Alternatively, you can use yuzu paste (yuzu kosho). Yuzu paste has a sour, salty, and spicy flavour. When using this substitute, you only need 1½ tablespoons of the paste for optimal taste. You can skip this ingredient if you don't prefer the citrusy taste of yuzu.
How to Make Tsukemen (Chicken)
- To cook this one serving of this Japanese noodle dish at home, you start by making the dipping broth. First, pour one tablespoon of sesame oil into a cooking pot and let it heat up for 3 minutes on a medium-low flame. Then, throw one finely sliced garlic clove and an inch of ginger into the mix. Stir-fry these tsukemen ingredients for 2 minutes until they are fragrant.
- Next, add 100g of chicken thigh into the pot and switch to medium heat. Continuously stir the ingredients and flip the chicken until both sides of the meat turn light brown. If you want to make a traditional tsukemen, you can follow the same steps by replacing chicken with pork.
- Then, add one tablespoon of Doubanjiang and a pinch of ground black pepper and salt. Keep stirring to prevent the spicy chilli paste from burning or caramelising.
- Afterwards, throw two finely sliced shiitake mushrooms and stir for 30 seconds. After that, add one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of miso paste, and ¼ cup of mentsuyu into the mix. Stir the mixture before adding 1 cup of water into the pot. Switch to medium-high heat and bring everything to a boil. Keep stirring until you get a thick reddish-brown mixture.
- Once boiled, switch to medium-low heat and let the broth simmer for 5 minutes. At this point, you can pour one tablespoon of yuzu juice into the broth. Then, stir the mixture to let the yuzu blend and soak into the meat and other ingredients.
- For a thicker soup consistency, combine one tablespoon of cornstarch powder with one tablespoon of water in a small cup to get a slurry blend. Then, pour the starchy solution into the dipping soup. Give the broth a thorough stir until you get a thick, glossy mixture. Finally, turn off the heat and place a lid on the cooking pot.
- You can start making the noodles by pouring 2 cups of water into another clean pot. Then, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Before putting the noodles in boiling water, separate the strands to make them loose and easier to cook. Transfer the noodles to the boiling water and cook them for 5 minutes until they turn slightly yellow and springy. Then, transfer the noodles into a colander.
- After that, place the strands under cold running water for 1 minute to remove excess starch. Give the colander a quick shake to remove excess water before transferring the noodles to a plate.
- When serving, place ½ a hard-boiled egg on the noodles. Finally, top your dipping broth with two tablespoons of dried bonito flakes and green onions.
You can prepare the toppings and make the broth ahead of time or a day earlier and keep them in the fridge. Then, reheat the broth until boiled before serving. As for the noodles, it's always best to cook them right before serving for a fresher taste and firmer texture.
Vegan Tsukemen Recipe
Making a vegan version of this dish is similar to the original recipe. However, we tweaked a few ingredients in our vegan tsukemen recipe to achieve a similar consistency to the meat version.
Instead of chicken, you can use vegetable bouillon powder or paste to make the base soup. This highly concentrated powder is made from vegetables, spices, and herbs. It has a rich umami flavour and tastes stronger than the regular vegetable stock.
You need 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable bouillon powder to make this base soup. Combine this powder with 1 cup of hot or boiling water. Add the bouillon mixture after stir-frying the meat alternative, aromatic ingredients, and other seasonings.
For additional protein sources, you can use plant-based meat like seitan. Seitan is a wheat-based vegan protein. It has a neutral taste and tender texture that mimics plain chicken meat. To cook this plant-based meat, chop 100g of seitan dough into tiny slices and stir-fry them with other ingredients.
Since this vegetarian tsukemen recipe contains less fat, the broth will have a smoother texture with a less greasy mouthfeel. The dipping soup will also have a deeper umami flavour and a richer aromatic taste from the bouillon powder.
- Don't add cornstarch directly to the broth to prevent lumps or blobs. Instead, make a slurry mixture by combining this thickening powder with water.
- When stir-frying clove garlic and ginger, don't use high heat to prevent these aromatic ingredients from burning and turning bitter.
- You should add yuzu at the end of cooking to prevent the juice and skin from losing their zestiness and aroma.
How Do You Eat Tsukemen?
Grab and pinch 5 to 6 noodles with chopsticks to eat this Japanese noodle dish. The noodles can be quite slippery and slick. So, if you find it difficult to hold them with chopsticks, you can twist your chopsticks 1 to 2 times to wrap the noodles around them.
Then, dip the noodles halfway in the hot broth a few times for 5 seconds. Avoid soaking the noodles all the way through to prevent the broth from turning cool and losing some of its flavour. Slurp the noodles and repeat this step.
Alternatively, you can enjoy the toppings separately by not including them in the beginning. For instance, you can soak the egg in the broth after eating the noodles. Then, scoop other ingredients like dried bonito flakes and top them on the egg before eating.
Can You Drink Tsukemen Broth?
You can drink tsukemen broth, but we do not recommend drinking it at the start of your meal. It's quite salty and more intense than regular ramen soup. However, if you’d like to, you can still sip on the broth at the end of the meal.
How Do You Drink Tsukemen Broth?
To drink tsukemen broth, we recommend adding ¼ cup of the noodle water to dilute its flavours and texture. Noodle water here refers to the water you used to boil the ramen.
Alternatively, you can add plain hot water or other base soups, like dashi stock, to thin out the broth. Mixing the broth with dashi stock will produce a mildly sweet and savoury mixture. To use the stock, pour ¼ cup of dashi into the broth and stir everything before sipping.
What to Do With Leftover Tsukemen?
You can use leftover tsukemen broth for many things. For example, you can turn it into a base soup or use it to make tsukemen rice.
To make a base soup:
- Add 1 to 2 pinches of pepper and soy sauce to add back in any lost spice and savoury flavour.
- Heat the broth over high heat before adding some vegetables.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, remove the heat, and garnish the soup with dried chilli flakes or coriander leaves.
If you want to make tsukemen rice:
- Replace water with the broth when cooking the rice.
- Add some vegetables, cooked meat, mushrooms, and other ingredients.
- Stir everything thoroughly until it is cooked.
You can also use the leftover broth to make burgers or use it as salad dressings. You only need to boil the broth over high heat until you get a thick and concentrated mixture. Then, mix the thick glaze with minced beef for burgers or drizzle it over your salads before serving.
You can keep this noodle dish in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Be sure to store the noodles and the broth separately in airtight containers. You can also freeze the dipping soup for up to a month.
However, we don't recommend freezing the noodles as they will dehydrate and lose their firmness. Frozen noodles can also turn soggy and appear unappetising after being thawed.
Tsukemen Recipe (Dipping Chicken Ramen)
- ¼ cup mentsuyu
- 100 g (3.5 oz) chicken thigh
- 1 tablespoon Doubanjiang
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 finely sliced shiitake mushroom
- 1 finely diced garlic clove
- 1 inch finely diced ginger
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon Yuzu juice (optional)
- 1 ½ tbsps Yuzu kosho (optional)
- A serving of ramen noodles
- 2 cups water
- ½ boiled egg
- 2 tbsps dried bonito flakes
- 2 tbsps green onions
- Pour sesame oil into a cooking pot. Then, heat it over medium-low heat before adding the finely diced garlic and ginger. Stir these ingredients until fragrant.
- Add the chicken thigh and switch to medium heat. Stir everything and flip the chicken until both sides of the meat turn to light brown.
- Pour one tablespoon of doubanjiang and a pinch of ground black pepper and salt. Keep stirring to prevent the spicy chilli paste from burning.
- Throw finely sliced shiitake mushrooms and stir for 30 seconds. Then, add soy sauce, miso paste, and mentsuyu into the mix. Keep stirring before adding water.
- Switch to medium-high heat. Then, bring the broth to a boil. Once boiled, turn to medium-low heat and let everything simmer for 5 minutes.
- In a small cup, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch and water. Stir this mixture until you get a slurry blend.
- Add the cornstarch mixture to the broth. Stir until you get a glossy and thick mixture. Then, turn the heat off and cover the cooking pot with a lid.
- Pour 2 cups of water into another empty pot. Bring the water to a boil. Then, loosen the noodles and separate them using your fingers.
- Cook the noodles in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Then, transfer everything to a colander.
- Place the noodles under running water for 1 minute to remove excess starch. After that, shake the colander to remove excess water.
- Transfer the noodles to a plate. When serving, put ½ hard-boiled egg on the noodles and sprinkle dried bonito flakes and green onions on the hot tsukemen broth.
- If you don't like having greasy lips when enjoying your bowl of tsukemen, feel free to remove the skin or skim the floating fat before serving.
- If you add yuzu, pour the juice after the broth has boiled. Be sure to stir the yuzu juice until it blends well with all the ingredients.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimate.
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