Vegetable Oil 101

Vegetable oils are oils extracted from the seed or grain, usually with a petroleum-based solvent, to obtain a liquid fat for frying, baking, or sautéing. Approximately 42 percent of a seed is oil. Oils can also be expeller pressed, which is a more traditional, mechanical, way of extracting the oils.

How to Buy:
All vegetable oils are plentiful and readily available, both domestic and imported. Buy a size that you will consume in up to three months from purchase.

How to Read the Label:
Look for country of origin, mixture with other oils, unrefined or refined, and the suggested uses.

Choices:
Corn oil is available both refined and unrefined and has a neutral flavor.
Palm oil (not palm kernel oil) has both monosaturated and saturated fats.
Canola oil is made from rapeseed; and is one of the most popular oils.
Safflower oil is a relative of sunflower oil; unrefined.
Grapeseed oil is an all-purpose oil.
Soybean oil is the most widely produced oil in the world.

How to Use:
Most of these oils are too bland for salad dressings (stick to the more flavorful olive or flax oils for salads). For light to medium heat for sautéing and sauces, use canola, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, or soybean. For medium-high heat for baking, frying, sautéing, and roasting, use corn, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, or soybean. For high heat for grilling and deep-frying, use cottonseed, canola, corn, grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, or soybean.

How to Store:
Vegetable oils should be stored in their original cans or glass bottles in cool, dark cupboard; do not put near stoves or other cooking appliances, as oils can spoil and become rancid. Refrigeration is not necessary, but acceptable. Decant from plastic bottles to ceramic or stainless steel containers for freshness.

Health Benefits:
Vegetable oils are 120 calories per tablespoon, contain no cholesterol, and are 100 percent fat.

Smarter Shopping:
Pour in spray bottles designed for oils (otherwise nozzle may clog) to help portion control and limit amount of fat and calories, and for a more even distribution of oil.

For more product 101s download our Smarter Shopping App.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Aroma oil 101: Why ramen benefits when you add more fat

Last time we discussed ramen, we dove into the world of tare, the elusive secret sauce responsible for flavoring ramen broth . But there’s one other key component of ramen that rarely gets talked about. And that, my noodle loving friends, is aroma oil.

“Oil” here is sort of a misnomer because it really should just be “fat.” Aromatic fat. Almost all modern ramen includes some form of additional fat added to the top of the bowl.

Chances are when you look at a bowl ramen, you’ve seen aroma oil’s bountiful appearance. Little droplets, reflecting light, dancing on the surface of the soup as you dip your spoon into the bowl for that first sip. It’s majestic stuff.

Arom a oil is also another reason also why ramen isn’t exactly good for you—ramen, to put it mildly, is calorically dense stuff and ladling on the tasty fat only adds to your calorie bill. But the importance of fat to the dish can’t be overlooked by adding some form of fat, a ramen shop adds complexity, flavor, and mouthfeel to their bowl.

A number of prolific Japanese ramen cooks I’ve spoken to about this will also argue that fat helps the soup stick to the noodles better. They say fat eagerly adheres to the noodle and coats over small droplets of water-laden broth, suspending the broth on the noodle as they’re dragged up into the hungry mouth of the diner.

But who knows? For the life of me, I could not find a scholarly article on this. S peaking from personal experience, though, ramen with added fat is better than ramen without. To me, it is a mandatory component. So we gotta talk about aroma oil.

As we always do, let’s start with a simple definition: What constitutes aroma oil?

Simply put, aroma oil is fat that’s been cooked with ingredients to the point that the oil takes on their flavors. Aroma oil has this unique property where it can amplify existing flavors elsewhere in the bowl, while simultaneously taming other flavors.

Aroma oil is derived from the original cooking process of soup making, where the fat rendered from the meat bones floats to the surface of the pot, mingling with the aromatics and slowly infusing with their flavor. Cooks would skim this fat off and add it separately to the dish. But as ramen became more refined, so too did the creation of aroma oil, with precise ingredients bolstering the fat’s flavor.

The ingredients used in aroma oil can vary considerably. Alliums, such as garlic, onions, or green onions, or an ingredient like ginger, have fat-soluble flavor compounds that are readily captured in fat. This is why garlic butter tastes so dang good: All that garlic flavor practically begs to submit itself to the fat it’s suspended in.

But you can also make oils from other aromatics. As with a lot of other ramen components, there aren’t a ton of rules here. Chilis, spices, small dried sardines (niboshi), or even shrimp. It just has to be a flavored oil!

From my perspective, the ingredients used for the aroma oil are selected to help with layering flavor. I realize “layering flavor” is some buzzwordy jargon a lot of chefs use, but I mean it in a practical application here. For me, layering flavor just means encapsulating an ingredient’s essence in various forms within a dish, often through different components.

Take the lowly onion. In a standard ramen dish, it might be poached as it bobs on the surface of the soup, gently bleeding a softly sweet note into the base liquid. But it also might be boiled or fried in the tare (especially in miso applications), or braised with the chashu. Adding oil infused with onion flavor is yet another cooking mechanism a chef can use to include that base “onion” flavor, but showcasing that ingredient’s flavor in a distinct way.

Aroma oil is all about layering flavor.

Making aroma oil is stupidly easy, which is why I am befuddled when it isn’t included in a bowl of ramen. And such is often the case—unfortunately—on this side of the Pacific (assuming you’re reading this in the U.S.). But even in Japan you don’t always see it: Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is low-priced stuff, often $4 a bowl, and extremely sparse, so they often exclude the oil entirely. And old-school miso shops in Hokkaido make the “oil” to order, by tossing lard into a wok with vegetables, caramelizing the vegetables and quickly infusing the fat during the cooking of the bowl itself.

To make aroma oil, all you have to do is:

  1. Take aromatics of your choice
  2. Toss them in a sauce pan with some fat
  3. Cook them until the brown-ness/doneness/flavor you like
  4. Strain, pressing on the aromatics to extract all the flavored oil within

This fat keeps for ages in the fridge and you can use it for basically anything. Amp up some fried rice , sear chicken in it, even make a salad dressing with it.

You can use this method with virtually any ingredients you like. That’s the wonderful part of it the method doesn’t change much, just the ingredients. When I write recipes for aroma oil on Reddit , I find my steps for making the oil are pretty much the same. Some folks will argue that you should adjust your temperatures depending on the ingredients used, or even prepare them sous-vide for maximum temperature precision—but really, we’re splitting hairs here.

However, there’s one interesting split in aroma oil recipes. Most fats used in aroma oil are either saturated fats (like fats rendered from animals) or unsaturated fats (like vegetable oil). You can use whatever oil you want, but these are two distinct types. And they have some inherent differences worth noting.

For one, saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This means on the surface of the soup they tend to have a duller appearance, and they’re more viscous as they cool. If used in too much quantity, they can form a skin on the surface of the final dish. So, rendered animal fats should be heated slightly before being added and you’ll see some restaurants keep their oils in steam tables for this purpose. The benefit of using a saturated fat from animals, like lard or chicken fat, is that the fat has additional flavor.

Unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil, create wonderful little bubbles of fat on the surface, and they shine particularly brightly. But they’re very neutral in flavor most of the time (sesame oil is an exception of course, but you might not want that flavor in your final bowl).

The third option is to do what I do: Blend an animal fat with an unsaturated fat. Then you get the best of both worlds: good flavor and a less viscous texture. To give you an idea of what this might look like, below is an extremely versatile recipe for green onion oil. It has three ingredients and pairs with virtually any ramen dish you can think of, since you’re likely to also toss some thin slices of raw green onion on top of the bowl.


Watch the video: Products Explained: Know Your Cooking Oils (January 2022).