Ramen Eggs (味玉 - Ajitama)
With a soft jammy egg yolk and umami-packed white, a Ramen Egg is the cherry on top of a bowl of ramen. Although they're most commonly found atop a bowl of noodle soup, these flavorful Japanese soft-boiled eggs (known as Ajitama in Japan) are super versatile. They can be served on salads, in sandwiches, stuffed inside of an onigiri, or even eaten as a snack.
I've got a few tricks to make these taste like the ones you get in a ramen shop, so keep reading for my ramen egg recipe and check out the video to see my technique for making soft-boiled eggs easier to peel.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Putting a small crack in each egg before boiling them makes even fresh eggs easier to peel.
- Bringing the eggs to a boil and cutting the heat cooks them more slowly, making the timing to get a perfect soft-boiled egg more forgiving. It also gives you a soft jammy center by eliminating the temperature gradient problem where the outside of the yolk is over-cooked, and the center is still almost raw.
- Using chicken stock in the marinade adds full-bodied flavor and umami to the Ajitama, making them taste more like they were soaked in the braising liquid from Chashu.
Ingredients for Ramen Eggs
- Eggs - Normally, when you soft-boil eggs, you want to use older eggs because they tend to be easier to peel, but I've found a way to make even fresh eggs easier to peel, which has a huge benefit. Older eggs tend to have a big air pocket in them due to evaporation, so your egg won't be perfectly shaped. By using fresh eggs, the egg white will fill out the whole shell, giving you a perfect oval egg. Other than that, I try and look for eggs that are from chickens that were fed a diet high in beta-carotene (usually in the form of red peppers). This gives the yolks a vibrant orange color that makes them look more appealing.
- Chicken stock - Ramen-shop-style Ramen Eggs are usually made by soaking them in the leftover braising liquid from chashu or kakuni. If you're making them at home and don't want to make one of those first, chicken broth is a great way to add similar meaty umami to the eggs without the extra effort.
- Soy sauce - Any Japanese brand of dark soy sauce will work here. I usually use Kikkoman. If you want to make these gluten free you can substitute tamari.
- Sake - Any cheap sake will work here. You don't want to use an expensive one because those tend to have a higher mill ratio on the rice, which means the sake contains less umami producing amino acids. Some common brands include Hakutsuru, Ozeki and Shochikubai. By the way, the alcohol gets boiled off, so no, these eggs won't make your kids drunk. If you can find real brewed mirin you can substitute it in, but be sure to cut the amount of sugar in half.
- Sugar - A little sugar helps balance the saltiness of the soy sauce.
- Ginger - Eggs can have a slightly sulfuric smell, even when they're hard-boiled. The ginger helps abate that while making the marinade taste more like chashu braising liquid. You can also add aromatics such as onion or green onions to the marinade.
How to Make Ramen Eggs
The first thing you'll want to do is make the Ramen Egg marinade by combining the chicken stock, soy sauce, sake, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan and bringing it to a boil. The goal here is to evaporate all of the alcohol in the sake and soy sauce as these can lead to harsh, bitter tastes. It will take about 2 minutes at a full boil. Be sure you keep a close eye on the pot, as it can boil over.
Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down completely before you use it to marinate the eggs.
For the boiled eggs, you want to crack a small round divet into the bottom of each egg with the back of a spoon. The goal is to hit it hard enough to crack the hard outer shell, but not so hard that you tear the soft inner membrane. This may take a little practice, but it makes the eggs a lot easier to peel.
Place the eggs in a pot of water that's just large enough to hold all 6 eggs in a single layer and make sure they're covered by about 2-inches of water.
Bring the pot to a rolling boil over high heat and then turn off the heat and set a timer for 5 to 6 minutes. There are so many variables that can affect this time, such as the size of your eggs, the temperature of the eggs and water when you started, the efficiency of your stove, and even your altitude, so you may have to try this a few times before you get the length of time dialed in. I have a full post explaining my method for making perfect boiled eggs.
Once the timer is up, drain the pot and repeatedly fill it with cold water to rapidly cool the eggs. You can also make and ice bath. Once the water doesn't warm up right away, leave the soft-boiled eggs soaking in the cold water for at least 20 minutes. This is another step that I've found that makes them easier to peel.
Crack the eggs all over using the back of a spoon and drop them back into the water.
Peel the eggs by starting from the bottom of the egg (where you made the divet), and work in a spiral around the egg, keeping it wet at all times. Make sure you peel the inner membrane off of the egg white, or your eggs won't marinate evenly.
Remove the ginger from the marinade and pour it into a zipper bag along with the peeled eggs. Press out as much air from the bag as you can and seal it.
Put the bag in a bowl and let the eggs marinate for at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours. You'll want to swish the eggs around periodically to prevent light spots where the eggs are touching each other.
When the Ajitama are done, remove them from the marinade and keep them in a sealed container until you are ready to use them. They should last for at least 3 days in the fridge. You can also reuse the marinade up to 3 times before it gets too diluted, so you may want to hang onto that.
Other Ways to Eat Ramen Eggs
Although they're delicious over a bowl of ramen noodles, these versatile marinated eggs are used in many ways in Japanese cuisine. Here are just a few ideas:
- Potato salad - tear a few eggs into pieces and mix them into potato salad.
- Salad - these make for a colorful, protein-packed topping for almost any green salad.
- Sandwich - Spread some mayonnaise onto two slices of sandwich bread and add a few ramen eggs that have been sliced in half. You can also add them to a Japanese-style egg salad sandwich.
- Breakfast - these make a tasty side dish for a bowl of rice or on avocado toast, but they're also delicious on their own.
- Onigiri - you can stuff a whole Ajitsuke Tamago inside of an onigiri.
Other Ramen Recipes
Ajitama (味玉) is short for Ajituske Tamago (味付け玉子), which literally means "seasoned egg." These Japanese seasoned soft-boiled eggs are often used as a topping for ramen, which is why they're often called Ramen Eggs outside of Japan. They're made by soft boiling eggs, peeling them, and then marinating them in a savory sweet soy sauce marinade until the egg whites have turned light brown.
Ramen Eggs are known as Ajituske Tamago (味付け玉子) or Ajitama(味玉) for short in Japan. The name literally means "flavored egg" in Japanese, and it's pronounced as follows:
a like all
ji like jeep
tsu like saying "eat soup" fast
ke like kept
ta like tarp
ma like mall
go like ghost
You can make this Japanese Ramen Egg recipe vegetarian by substituting the chicken stock for shiitake mushroom stock. If you are having them in a restaurant, Japanese soft-boiled eggs are generally made using pork, chicken, or fish stock, so you should always ask.
- To make the ramen egg marinade, add ¾ cup low sodium chicken stock, ⅓ cup soy sauce, ⅓ cup sake, 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar, and 25 grams ginger to a small pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue boiling the mixture until it no longer smells like alcohol (this will take about 2 minutes). Let this cool to room temperature before using it.
- Us the back of a spoon to crack a small round divet in the bottom of 6 large eggs.
- Place the eggs in a pot and fill the pot with enough water to cover the eggs by 2-inches.
- Bring the eggs to a rolling boil and then turn off the heat. Set a timer for 5-6 minutes. The time will vary on several factors, including your eggs' size and temperature, your stove's efficiency, etc.
- When the timer is up, drain the eggs, and rinse them in several changes of cold water until the eggs feel cool to the touch. Keep the eggs soaking in cold water for at least 20 minutes.
- To peel the eggs, crack them all over using the back of a spoon, and then start peeling them from the bottom (where you cracked the divet), and work your way around the egg in a spiral. Make sure the egg stays wet and that you remove all of the soft membrane. Add the eggs to a zipper bag.
- Remove the ginger from the marinade and pour the sauce over the eggs. Press out as much air from the bag as you can, and seal it shut. Let the eggs marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or as long as 12.
- After they're fully seasoned, remove the Ajitama from the marinade and store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to three days.