12 Awesome Asian Spices You Need To Try

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about ramen toppings? Is it succulent soft-boiled eggs? How about some boiled bok choy or a couple of umami-packed nori sheets? Perhaps you like to garnish your ramen noodles with scallions or a drizzle of soy sauce.

These toppings taste incredible when mixed into Mike’s Mighty Good Craft Ramen, but why not take it one step further? By adding Asian spices — such as Chinese Five Spice or Sichuan pepper — to the mix, you can create a Mike’s ramen cup that’s sure to make your taste buds dance for joy.

MMG ramen toppingsEveryone loves Sriracha sauce and chili oil in their ramen, but when it comes to making mighty good ramen, it really is all about the spices. Asian spices, in particular, are a ramen staple. Whether you’re making vegetarian ramen, vegan ramen, spicy ramen, or miso ramen, you simply can’t go wrong with throwing a few Asian spices into your Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen cup.

While there are hundreds of delicious Asian spices out there for you to try, we’ve narrowed it down quite a bit to make things easier for you. Here are 12 Asian spices to add to your next instant ramen recipe (not at the same time, mind you, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing and matching a few spices here and there). Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Sichuan Pepper

Sichuan peppercorns have a distinct flavor — similar to that of lemongrass or unripe citrus fruits. This spice is very popular in Sichuan regional cuisine, and it’s simply destined to bring out the flavor of your pork or beef ramen. If you’ve been looking for a spice that pairs exceptionally well with spicy ramen, look no further. While Sichuan peppercorns aren’t spicy on their own, they bring out the flavor of the spice in any dish as well as numb the heat a bit.

When adding Sichuan pepper to mighty Mike’s ramen, make sure not to add too much as you don’t want to overpower the flavor of the organic ramen noodles. Stir in a dollop of sesame oil or Sriracha, and top it off with a couple of ramen eggs if you really want to complement the tangy, mouth-numbing taste of the peppercorns. This spice is sure to add a little something special to your pork tonkatsu or chicken ramen, so why not give it a try?

Dried Ginger (Ground)

Ground ginger

When it comes to Asian cuisine, dried ginger is definitely a staple. If you’ve ever had pickled ginger with your sushi, you already know how well it pairs with umami-flavored foods. The flavor of dried ginger is strong and slightly sweet. It has a spicy aroma that’s sure to tickle your nostrils and make your kimchi ramen smell heavenly. You only have to add a little bit of dried ginger to your ramen in order to deepen the flavor. Too much might be overpowering.

One of the great things about ginger is it tastes just as good dry as it does fresh. Whether you want to use fresh ginger or dried ginger in your ramen really depends on what consistency you want the broth to be. The reason we’re recommending dried ginger in particular is that it won’t clump the noodles or create a broth that’s too thick. If you like a thick broth, though, fresh ginger might be the way to go! Don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s what ramen is all about!


Galangal is essentially ginger’s citrusy-flavored cousin. If you’ve been looking for a good ginger substitute to mix into your ramen, you certainly can’t go wrong with adding a bit of galangal. Like ginger, it’s quite aromatic, and is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. While ginger is a bit spicier, galangal has a mild, fruity flavor to it. It’s much less likely to overpower your ramen, which is always a plus. Dried galangal can be used in place of fresh galangal, however, it might lose a little bit of its unique flavor in the drying process.


Turmeric has an earthy, mustardy flavor to it. It’s a little bit similar to ginger in that it can be used in both its fresh and dried forms. Turmeric is traditionally used in Indian dishes to create that beautiful orange color you might be used to seeing in curry and ramen broth. When it comes to Mike’s mighty good chicken ramen, for example, adding turmeric is sure to complement the flavor and leave you with a vibrant broth to slurp up when all the noodles are gone.

chicken ramen

Turmeric is also quite good for you! Many people add turmeric to their coffee because of its anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re looking to make a healthy ramen, try adding some turmeric into the mix. When you’re feeling under the weather, there’s truly nothing better than a comforting chicken ramen with just a touch of turmeric in it. We’re betting it’ll taste pretty good in pork ramen, too!


Cumin is a nutty, pungent spice that originated in India. It’s frequently used in Middle Eastern cooking today, although many nations all over the world enjoy its savory flavor. This spice is extremely aromatic; the smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. Cumin tastes particularly delicious when added to chicken ramen, but you can’t go wrong with adding it to miso ramen, pork ramen, or tofu ramen either. 

Not only will cumin add some depth and flavor to your ramen noodles, but it’ll make the broth thicker, too! If your favorite part of eating ramen is drinking the broth afterward, cumin might be the right spice for you. Cumin and ramen eggs are a match made in heaven as well, so make sure to add a couple of soft-boiled eggs to your Mike’s ramen cup if you decide to use cumin as your primary spice.

Maqaw Pepper

This Taiwanese spice is quite versatile and aromatic. If you want to add a spicy, citrusy element to your mighty Mike’s ramen, Maqaw pepper is definitely the way to go. Most people don’t know that Maqaw peppercorns are actually seeds. These seeds are native to Taiwan, and they’ve been used as a staple cooking ingredient by Taiwan’s indigenous communities for years. Maqaw pepper pairs exceptionally well with ginger, lemongrass, and Sichuan pepper (so if you want to combine any spices in your ramen, now’s your chance).

Like cumin, Maqaw pepper tastes absolutely incredible when sprinkled on ramen eggs. Spicing up your soft-boiled eggs with Maqaw pepper is a great way to experience its flavor firsthand, as the mild flavor of the seed won’t necessarily be at the forefront of your ramen. Add some boiled bok choy and a bit of chili oil to the mix, and you’ve got yourself some mighty good ramen!

ramen egg


You definitely can’t go wrong with adding a little bit of coriander to your chicken or beef ramen. Coriander has a taste similar to that of cilantro. In fact, coriander spice is simply the ground-up seeds from a cilantro plant. It’s sweet and floral in flavor, and it carries a distinctive nutty aroma. The pleasant smell of coriander wafting from your kitchen will have your housemates or family members asking what you’re making. Hopefully, you’re making enough ramen for everyone!

Chinese Five Spice

Everyone should have a jar or two of Chinese Five Spice blend in their kitchen. Chinese Five Spice is widely used in Asian cooking, and for good reason. It’s a combination of cloves, Chinese cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. We’re not sure what genius came up with this combination, but it’s definitely something to call home about! When mixed together, these spices create a pungent and sweet flavor that’s sure to add a little something to your ramen. 

Chances are, you’ve had Chinese Five Spice before (though perhaps not in ramen). It’s typically used in dishes like yellow or red curry, and you can use it as a rub for roast chicken or pork as well. Chinese Five Spice blend is quite versatile, actually, so you can use it for pretty much anything under the sun. Stir a little bit of this spice blend into your pork or beef ramen and see for yourself! Who knows? It might just become your go-to ramen flavoring.

Chinese five spice ramen

Star Anise

This pretty little star-shaped spice is fruity, sweet, and delightfully fragrant. Star Anise is an important part of the Chinese Five Spice blend we just talked about. It’s also an absolute staple in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, so if you’re looking to make Thai or Vietnamese-style ramen, don’t go easy on the star anise. You’ll definitely want to use star anise if you’re making your own ramen broth (hot tip: really good ramen broth takes about 13 hours to make). However, you can also use it in instant ramen. It’ll be just as good!

Star anise is mainly sweet, however, it does have a slight peppery flavor as well. It complements ginger and coconut broths like a dream, and it definitely adds to the warmth and comfort that ramen brings to the table. It really is the perfect ingredient to mix into a Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen cup on a dreary, winter day. Give it a try sometime.

Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi (otherwise known as Japanese Seven Spice) is frequently used in Japanese noodle dishes, which means it tastes great in Japanese-style ramen. This spice blend is an elegant combination of ground ginger, dried seaweed, chili peppers, poppy seeds, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, and of course — Sichuan peppercorns. In comparison to Chinese Five Spice, Shichimi Togarashi carries umami notes that complement the citrusy spices in the mix quite well.

It might be fun to make your own Shichimi Togarashi, but it’s also available at most grocery stores. This unique spice blend is perfect for tofu or kimchi ramen, as the flavors mesh exceptionally well. It’s sure to add some heat to the broth, and give the noodles just a touch of extra flavor. Shichimi Togarashi is incredibly versatile, so you shouldn’t have any trouble integrating it into any instant ramen recipe.

White Pepper

White pepper probably isn’t at the forefront of your mind when you’re considering what spices to add to your ramen, but it definitely should be! In comparison to the sharp flavor of black pepper, white pepper can work wonders when it comes to rounding out the flavor profile of a ramen dish. Basically, white pepper is a bit milder. It’s far less pungent, so it won’t overpower your Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen cup. 

If you compare and contrast white and black pepper, you’ll notice that white pepper is a bit more herby in flavor. If you’re looking to make a mild but undeniably delicious bowl of ramen, you can’t go wrong with replacing black pepper with white pepper. It blends quite well with the other spices mentioned on this list, and its simple flavor is sure to leave you feeling satisfied.

Gochugaru (Korean Chili Powder)

MMG spicy ramen

Gochugaru is considered to be a staple of Korean cooking. It’s frequently used in soups, stews, and of course ramen. In comparison to non-Korean chili powder, gochugaru is much milder in taste. It’s not overwhelmingly spicy (though, it does have a little bit of a kick), and its flavor profile features a hint of sweetness. This makes it the perfect spice to mix into a bowl of Mike’s Mighty Good Craft Ramen. It’s not too spicy and not too sweet. It’s just right!

Final Thoughts

For those who are new to the world of ramen, deciding how to season your ramen can be difficult. After all, there are endless spices and flavor profiles to choose from! The next time you’re putting together a bowl of Mike’s Mighty Good Chicken Ramen or a simple vegetarian ramen, try adding a dash of Chinese Five Spice blend or turmeric. Knowing how to utilize these delicious Asian spices is sure to enhance your ramen-eating experience!

"Mike's Mighty Good has permanently changed my lunch game. Never knew an 'instant soup' could be so good."

Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant of the Stuff You Should Know Podcast