ABURA SOBA: “Oil Noodles”, or Soupless Ramen

This is by far the quickest to prepare recipe that I have posted! Popular in Tokyo–particularly among college students, “abura soba” (油そば), is soupless, oily noodle, ramen dish. It is generally less time-consuming to prepare and less costly to order than it’s better known broth-laden counterpart. Abura soba can be made when you’re in a pinch for time and it makes for a great weeknight dinner! It is usually topped with a poached egg, but some bowls are topped with a soft-boiled egg, or even just a raw egg yolk. The runny yolk does change the texture of the dish, especially once it mixes with the melted pork fat and the tare (sauce) at the bottom of the bowl. Generally, it is the customer that will mix together all of the ingredients in the bowl, not the cook in the back that prepared it. When mixing the noodles, be sure to really pull the noodles up and stir it to grab up all of the savory sauce and oil at the bottom!

Tare/Sauce: Use 30ml of sauce per 175g of noodles
• 10 g of kombu
• 200ml of water
• 10g of roasted shiitake
• 5g of katsuobushi
• 100ml of shoyu
• 25ml of sake
• 25ml of mirin
• 10g of brown sugar
• 20g of salt
• 10ml of rice vinegar

Lard oil (aromatic): Use 30ml of oil per 175g of noodles
• 10:1 ratio of aromatic lard oil to sesame oil
• Can be scented with ginger, scallion, etc

Noodles: Use 175g of noodles per bowl
• 900g of flour (360g Bread flour, 450g AP, 81g Cake flour, 9g Egg White Powder)
• 351g of water
• 12g of salt
• 14g of kansui (10g of sodium carbonate, 4g of potassium carbonate)
• 3 pinches of riboflavin

Toppings: Whatever you like!

TARE/SAUCE: To start, prepare the tare to use as you sauce for flavoring the ramen dish. You’ll need to soak the kombu in water (kombu dashi) for at least a 30 minutes, but I prefer to do so overnight. In a separate container, soak the roasted shiitake and katsuobushi (I used hongarebushi) in the shoyu for at least 30 minutes.

To make the roasted shiitake, I preheat my oven to 232°C. While it is preheating, gently rinse and dry the shiitake with a paper towel. I then place the shiitake in the oven for an hour (30 minutes on each side). I like to do this because it imparts a smokey scent to the shiitake and a hint to what ever dish I am making.

I also prefer to do this for overnight as well. Since I’m used to ramen recipes that take several days to make, an overnight wait is nothing to me lol

If you’re *really* in a pinch for time, you can just heat up the water to 90°C and add in 5cc (about 1 US teaspoon) each of kelp and bonito dashi granules. Turn off the heat once the granules have dissolved. Then, in this order, add in: sake, mirin, sugar, salt, rice vinegar, and shoyu. Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Now you have your sauce for the abura soba prepared.

If you’re like me, and wish to take your time drawing out the flavors, you will make a kombu dashi, etc that’s soaked overnight 🙂 To continue, once the kombu dashi and the shoyu have soaked overnight pull it out of the refrigerator. Take a saucepan and heat up the kombu dashi to 63°C. Remove the kombu, and then add in the shoyu mixture containing the shiitake and katsuobushi. Heat it to 80°C, turn off the heat, cover, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Afterward, strain into a bowl or container.

In a separate sauce pan, add in the sake and mirin. Bring it to 80°C (this usually only takes a few minutes, especially if you store your sake and mirin at room temperature) and then, in this order, add in: sake, mirin, sugar, salt, rice vinegar, and then the strained shoyu mixture that you just made. Stir until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Once dissolved, place in a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

LARD OIL (AROMATIC): Ok, to be fair, the amount of lard oil that I have accumulated is the result of multiple batches of tonkotsu being made. If you do not make ramen on a frequent basis, you can just render some pork fat and add in garlic, ginger or scallion to make it aromatic.

Once the fat has been rendered and strained of any solid material (such as meat or aromatics), add in the sesame oil.

Although I do not recommend it, if you are pressed for time, you can use a vegetable oil like sunflower oil instead of lard oil and just omit the aromatics all together.

TOPPINGS: As far as the toppings go, you can use whatever you like! I’ve posted before in multiple recipes how to make the chashu pork, menma, ajitama, etc. At this point, just chop up whatever vegetables you want and then boil your noodles (even if they are instant ramen). Also, I decided to sear the meat for my bowl this time!

Clockwise from the top: shredded nori, chashu pork (before searing), freshly grated garlic, menma, green onions, white onions, and ajitama (centered in the picture).

A general tip though, to decrease any overwhelming sting from the onions, soak them in water beforehand, and then strain. I soaked the green parts for 5 minutes and the white onion for 10 minutes.

I love the aesthetics of amber-hued egg yolks, so I decided to showcase a raw egg for this bowl. If you decide to try this recipe, let me know how it turned out and if you liked it! 🙂

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