Ramen tare is the “secret sauce” that ramen cooks put at the bottom of your bowl before adding noodles, broth, and toppings. It is the magic that gives a bowl of ramen such deep, complex flavor.
Spicy Miso Ramen Tare is a spicy version of miso tare that gives a bowl of ramen its base of umami and flavor. Tare is one of the most essential parts of a good bowl of ramen.
I use keep a tub of this tare in my refrigerator at all times so that we can whip up a delicious ramen any time. Try it in my Spicy Miso Ramen with Chicken Karaage, Sauteed Kale, and Soft Boiled Egg.
How is homemade ramen different from instant ramen?
If you grew up, like I did, eating instant ramen out of a square package, you’ve probably been happy to learn about the nuances of a bowl of restaurant or food truck ramen.
It turns out, ramen can be so much more than quick-cooking noodles, water, and powdered seasoning.
In fact, a good bowl of hand-crafted ramen includes four elements:
- Broth (usually a simple broth made from bones, dried fish, dried seaweed, and/or dried mushrooms and water with little seasoning)
- Ramen noodles (wheat noodles alkalinized with kansui to give them their distinctive chewy texture)
- Toppings (everything from soft-boiled eggs to fried chicken, roasted vegetables, and even cheese)
- Ramen tare, the seasoning mixture that gives the bowl of ramen broth its depth of flavor
What is ramen tare?
The word “tare” is Japanese for “sauce.” In ramen recipes, it refers to a concentrated seasoning mixture that is placed in the serving bowl before the noodles, broth, and toppings are added.
Ramen tare is what gives a bowl of ramen its deep, rich, distinctive flavor. Each ramen shop and chef has their own secret tare recipes, and those recipes are closely guarded.
There’s a famous ramen restaurant chain called Ichiran that is famous for their spicy red tare, which, legend has it, is known by only four people in the world. And those four people are not allowed to travel on the same plane together. That’s how tightly held some tare recipes are!
What are the different types of ramen tare?
Making your own ramen tare is easy and it means you can make your own delicious ramen at home.
There are three primary types of tare for ramen:
Shoyu (soy sauce based) Shoyu means soy sauce. This is the oldest and most traditional tare. It provides the concentrated flavor for shoyu ramen. It can be a simple blend of soy sauce, sake, and mirin, or it may include a dozen ingredients like kombu, chili peppers, and bonito flakes.
Shio (salt based) Shio tares start with a base of salt (shio means salt). Shio tare is sometimes made of just water, salt, and sake. It can also have a complex layering of ingredients like kombu (dried kelp), shiitake mushrooms, dried sardines, dried anchovies, sugar, mirin, sake, and bonito flakes (dried fish flakes).
Miso Made from a base of miso—a salty paste made from fermented soybeans and other grains. Miso tare usually combines miso paste with other ingredients like mirin, sake, ginger, sesame paste, and soy sauce. You can also use a miso paste substitute.
Spicy miso tare is a variation of miso tare and it is my personal favorite. The recipe below is for Spicy Miso Ramen Tare from my new cookbook Ramen for Beginners.
Spicy Miso Tare includes a spicy element like Korean gochujang, the fermented chile and soybean paste that is full of umami. If you don’t have gochujang, use chile paste, like sambal oelek, which is widely available in Asian groceries and most supermarkets.
My spicy miso tare also has a rich backdrop of toasted sesame flavor from both sesame oil and Japanese sesame paste. If you can’t find Japanese sesame paste, you can substitute smooth, all-natural (no sugar added) peanut butter.
What ingredients do you need to make spicy miso tare?
You can find all of these ingredients in Japanese and Asian grocery stores. Even your local grocery store likely carries many of the key ingredients like soy sauce, mirin, and miso paste. Try to buy Japanese brands, if possible. You can also order ingredients online if you can’t find what you need locally.
What is miso paste and which type do you use in miso tare for ramen?
Miso paste is a paste of soybeans fermented with rice and other grains. It adds deep, rich salty umami flavor to miso soup, ramen tare, and many other Japanese dishes.
I like to use half white miso paste, also called shiro miso, which is light in color and mild in flavor, and half red miso paste, also called aka miso, which is dark in color and has a stronger, more intense flavor.
You can also buy awase miso paste, which is a combination of red and white. I like to have both red and white on hand for different recipes, so I combine the two. If you prefer to buy just one miso paste to make miso tare, the awase type is perfect.
What is Japanese sesame paste?
Japanese sesame paste, called neri goma in Japanese, is a thick paste of ground sesame seeds that have been roasted to a deep brown color. The resulting paste has a deep, toasted, nutty flavor. Japanese chefs use it in dishes like gomae, a Japanese dish of cooked spinach in a rich sesame sauce, or in Japanese sesame salad dressings or dipping sauces.
Chinese sesame paste is very similar to the Japanese version and makes a fine substitute.
What can I substitute for Japanese sesame paste?
If you don’t have Japanese sesame paste, your first thought may be to substitute tahini. Isn’t tahini also a sesame paste? It is, but unlike neri goma, tahini uses raw or very lightly toasted sesame seeds, grinding them to a paste. The flavor is much less intensely nutty and it lacks the rich toastiness.
A better substitute for Japanese sesame paste is smooth, all-natural, no-sugar-added peanut butter. It has the same pronounced nuttiness and rich toasted flavor. It also has the advantage of being easy to find in any supermarket and is inexpensive.
What is gochujang?
Gochujang is what gives this miso tare its spicy kick. It also adds even more umami.
Gochujang is a paste of fermented hot chiles, rice, soybeans, and salt. It’s thick, deep red, and can be very spicy. It is also full of intense umami and a hint of sweetness.
I buy my gochujang at a local Korean market or large Asian supermarket like Ranch 99. You can also buy gochujang online. (If you live in the Bay Area, check out Koreana Plaza in Oakland for a great Korean market experience!)
A tub of gochujang will keep for a long time in the refrigerator, so buy a good-sized tub of it.
You can also use gochujang to make my Korean Fried Chicken and other scrumptious Korean dishes.
How to use ramen tare
In my book Ramen for Beginners, you’ll find lots of ways to use ramen tare. This recipe is there, and there are also recipes for non-spicy Miso Tare, Shoyu Tare, Shio Tare, and Shiitake Dashi (vegan).
To use this tare, see my recipe for Spicy Miso Ramen with Chicken Karaage. Or use it with any combination you like of broth, noodles, and toppings.
Just add 2 tablespoons of the tare to your soup bowl before pouring in the hot broth. Stir to combine and then add your noodles and toppings.
How long can I keep spicy miso tare?
Tare will keep for at least a few weeks in your refrigerator, You can also use it to flavor a stir-fry sauce or dipping sauce for dumplings. In Japanese, “tare” actually means “dipping sauce.”
This spicy miso tare will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
more japanese recipes you’ll love
- Yaki Onigiri
- Chicken Karaage
- Spicy Miso Ramen
- Ramen Tare
- Soy Sauce Eggs
- Miso Salmon
- Stir-Fried Lotus Root
- Japanese Souffle Pancakes
Spicy Miso Tare for Ramen
- 1/2 cup miso paste use 1/4 cup white miso paste and 1/4 cup red miso paste or 1/2 cup awase miso paste
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons Japanese sesame paste
- 1/4 cup gochujang or chile paste like sambal oelek
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar