Ramyun: An Introduction and History of Korea's Favorite Noodle – SnackFever

Ramyun: An Introduction and History of Korea's Favorite Noodle

By Kalina Ewing

If you are from another country or are visiting Korea you might think that Koreans have been eating ramyun (sometimes spelled ramyeon) noodles since the beginning of time. In fact, this is not so. 

Ramen noodles became popular in the mid-1800s in Japan as an adaptation of Chinese wheat noodles, but they were not introduced into Korea until after the Korean War. However, the two noodle dishes are completely different. Traditional Japanese ramen can either be fresh made or instant noodles in a broth made out of chicken, pork, beef or seafood.

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メインの「飛魚そば」は店舗によって味が違います! なぜならビミョーに使ってる食材が違うので(笑) まずチャーシューが違ってたり いりこ使ってる店舗もあれば マグロ節 使ってたり 鶏節めっちゃ使ってたり ってことで 今日も全店営業中! 島田製麺食堂は深夜2時まで営業! #必死のパッチ製麺所 #だしと麺 #島田製麺食堂 #ENISHI #豊中ラーメン #伊丹ラーメン #西宮ラーメン #深夜ラーメン #神戸ラーメン #ラーメンパトロール #麺スタグラム #麺リフト組合 #ラーメン部 #ラーメン倶楽部 #noodles #Japaneseramen #foodstagram #instafood #ramen 写真は西中島の「えびす丸」の塩ラーメンだす!

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Ramyun literally means noodles in a spicy broth; the noodles are usually instant and other side items are often added with kimchi or an egg being the most common. Korea was devastated after the Korean War, and the population was left with little disposable income and time to make their meals. Ramyun noodles were quick and easy to make, and they were able to fill a gap in the population's need for food supply at a relatively low cost. The first instant ramyun was manufactured in 1963 by a company called Samyang and cost 10 won or 1 penny. Later other companies entered the fray with Shin Ramyun rising as the top producer of ramyun under the Nongshim company.

There is still ongoing competition from many other companies. Local convenience stores or pyeon-uijeom (편의점) and grocery stores carry many of the over 200 hundred varieties of ramyun available on the market. You will rarely find a Korean making a trip to the market without purchasing ramyun.

Koreans tend to consume 80 to 90 packets of this delicious food a year. At around 1,000 won each, this makes the ramyun industry worth over 1 billion dollars a year. There is a debate on how to best cook this dish. Traditionally water was brought quickly to a boil in a yangeun nembi or a very thin copper/tin pot.  Only then would the noodles and spice packet be added.

Because of late night shifts at work and long school schedules for many, this dish has become a yasik (late night) food favourite. So if you wander into a pyeon-uijeom on a late night, do not be surprised to see a few people eating ramyun and maybe be adventurous yourself and try a new flavour you have never seen before.

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