Instant ramen is a finals week staple for most college kids. It’s quick, easy and tastes decent (as long as you don’t look at the ingredients). It’s also pretty damn boring. However, with a little creativity, that boring bowl of beige soup can be transformed into a colorful, nutritious meal! We experimented to see what wonders could be achieved with the humble ramen bowl.
The RAMEN EQUATION:
BASE + VEGETABLES + PROTEIN + GARNISH = YUM!
Base: create a more flavorful broth with simple add-ins like soy sauce, chili paste, miso paste, fish sauce, curry paste, fresh grated ginger, garlic, mirin or ponzu. Fresh lime juice adds flavor. Try adding a cinnamon stick, star anise or coriander seeds to the simmering broth.
Vegetables: soft greens like spinach or watercress work well, as do bean sprouts for crunch, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, red onions and avocado for creamy flavor. Or whatever is at the back of your fridge!
Protein: thin meats like chicken breast, pork tenderloin and flank steak can be cooked directly in broth, and tofu needs no cooking. Or try poaching an egg directly into your broth!
Garnish: top with green onions, sesame seeds, chili flakes, seaweed, peanuts, kimchi
All the following can be make with regular instant ramen packets. Ingredients should be added to taste, so don’t worry about specific quantities.
Coconut Ginger Ramen:
Add coconut milk, fresh grated ginger and tom yum/curry paste to the ramen broth while cooking. Top with diced tofu, green onion, sesame seeds and Sriracha sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime.
Pad Thai Ramen:
Cook noodles for one minute then drain water, reserving a little in a cup. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, crushed garlic and fish sauce to the cup: mix with the leftover broth until you have a thick sauce. Add sauce, noodles and an egg to a pan and stir fry. Top with peanuts, green onion, shredded carrot and shrimp.
Anything Goes Ramen:
Create your broth with soy sauce, ginger, a flavoring packet and chili sauce. Add ramen to boiling water and crack an egg into the broth. Cover the pot and poach the egg in the noodles. Check egg after four minutes. Add avocado, red onion slices, mushrooms and bean sprouts. Top with fresh cilantro and lime.
A version of this article appeared on pages 6 and 7 of March 6th, 2013’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.