Few things in life are more comforting than a giant bowl of noodle soup. I’m particularly partial to the deep flavors found in Japanese soups like ramen and udon, but for years I struggled to make a delicious broth at home. Thanks to my Instant Pot, the struggle is gone. Give this easy broth a try, and have delicious ramen or udon noodle soup at home anytime you like!
With broth like this, you’ll never open a seasoning packet again! It’s the perfect combination of ease and flavor. Throw everything into your Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, seal and pressurize, and cook for an hour. Let the pressure release naturally, strain the broth, and either use immediately or save for later. Try it today, you will not be disappointed!
Traditional Broth for Ramen or Udon Noodle Soup
There are many different varieties of traditional Japanese broths for noodle soups such as ramen or udon. The most popular varieties have a base of either simmered pork hocks or konbu seaweed and dried fish flakes. They are then seasoned with a salty, umami-laden tare. Each ramen shop has its own seasoning mix, often based on salt, shoyu (soy sauce), or miso (fermented soybean paste).
Traditional ramen broths take hours to days to prepare. I do have a more complicated recipe for Momofuku-style ramen broth, also made in the Instant Pot, available if you’re interested. This is a simplified recipe with a pork and chicken base that can be made in less than two hours in your Instant Pot, with minimal hands-on time.
Ingredients for Easy Udon or Ramen Broth
Chicken and Pork
I like to use a combination of chicken and pork as a base when I make either udon or ramen noodle soup. In order to fit everything into even a 6 quart Instant Pot, I recommend combining raw chicken parts (preferably thighs, wings, or backs) with bacon for a fantastic smoky flavor. If you’re able, chop the chicken bones up with a cleaver. It allows the marrow to get into your broth, adding body.
For bacon, I use scraps left over from making my own bacon. You can absolutely use a one pound package of store-bought bacon if you haven’t hopped on the bacon-making bandwagon yet. A smoked pork hock would likely provide a similar flavor, but I haven’t personally tried it in this recipe.
Dried shiitake mushrooms are inexpensive, easy to find at Asian markets or on Amazon, and carried by many big box grocery stores these days as well. If you’d prefer to use fresh shiitakes they’ll absolutely work as well, but increase the quantity – a 6-8 oz package would work. You can try substituting another variety of mushrooms if you can’t find shiitakes, but the flavor profile will be a little different. The dried ones are really nice to keep on hand to add to soups and stir fries as needed.
Onions and Ginger
The two aromatics I recommend using are onion and fresh ginger. One large onion is sufficient, and all you need to do is quarter it. The peel can go right into the pot with everything else – it just adds more flavor.
Nearly every grocery store carries fresh ginger in the produce department these days. It can be stored in the freezer, which I highly recommend, and then peeled and cut or grated as needed. For this stock, peel and cut off a one inch section, and whack it a few times with a meat mallet or the back of a sturdy knife.
How to Make Easy Instant Pot Ramen/Udon Noodle Soup Broth
Start by roughly hacking up the chicken parts with a meat cleaver, if you have one. It’s OK to skip this step, but the marrow will add body to your broth. Watch your fingers!
Next, turn your Instant Pot or pressure cooker on to the sauté setting. While it heats up, peel your knob of ginger and give it a few whacks with a meat mallet, the side of a large knife, or even a heavy pan. Quarter an onion (no need to peel) and add both to the Instant Pot. No oil needed. Cook, stirring a few times, for about a minute. You may notice a slight char on one side, which is desirable. Add a few cups of water after a minute to stop the aromatics from burning.
Add the chicken, bacon, and mushrooms to the Instant Pot, then add water to the “fill” line. Close the lid, make sure the valve is set to seal, and cook on high pressure for one hour. After an hour, let the pressure release naturally. Remove the meat and aromatics from the broth, and strain through a fine mesh strainer.
You may use immediately in any ramen or udon recipe, experiment with your own ingredients, or save for later. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days or freeze for several months. If you refrigerate the stock overnight, you may notice that a layer of fat forms on the top. This is normal. You can spoon it out and discard it (I usually do), or let it melt back into the broth when you heat it up for your soup.
Before using your broth to make ramen or udon, remember that the seasoning isn’t complete. It will need something salty. Salt, soy sauce, miso, fish sauce, and gochujang paste are all good options, and you can mix and match them. Otherwise follow whatever soup recipe you like, and just make sure to taste the broth before serving.
How to Use Easy Ramen or Udon Broth
You can use this broth in any ramen or udon noodle soup recipe that calls for a chicken or pork stock. You can make your own, by seasoning the broth with soy, miso, salt, fish sauce, and/or gochujang, and adding noodles and toppings of your choice. Try cooked chicken, pork shoulder, duck, pork belly, tofu, seafood, or eggs (hard or soft-boiled). Add to that a few vegetables – greens of any kind, cabbage or bok choy, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, corn, or bamboo shoots. Experiment with it, and let me know what worked and what didn’t!
You can also get creative and use this as the broth component of any other recipe featuring East Asian flavors. You can poach fish in it, cook rice and other grains, and add it to sauces.
I have a few recipes that can use this broth as well:
- Pork Belly Ramen
- Udon Noodle Soup with Pork Belly and Bok Choy
- Shrimp and Grits
- Breakfast Congee
- Pork Pho with Bacon
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Easy Instant Pot Ramen or Udon Noodle Soup Broth
- Instant Por or other pressure cooker
- 1.5 lb chicken parts thighs, backs, or wings – with bones
- 1 lb bacon
- 1.5 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 onion quartered, no need to peel
- 1 inch fresh ginger peeled
- 12 cups water for a 6 qt Instant Pot
- If possible, roughly chop chicken parts with a sharp meat cleaver – go through the bone if possible. Watch your fingers. This step is optional.
- Turn Instant Pot on to sauté setting. Bruise peeled knob of ginger by hitting it with a meat mallet or heavy knife or frying pan. Add ginger and onion to dry Instant Pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for one minute. Immediately add 2 cups of water.
- Add the chicken parts, bacon, and mushrooms to the Instant Pot. Add water to the "fill" line." Close and secure the lid and make sure the valve is closed. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour, then let the pressure release naturally.
- Remove the bones and strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve. The broth may be used immediately or refrigerated or frozen for later use. Prior to use, season to taste with your choice of salt, soy sauce, fish sauce, miso, or gochujang.