If you're still eating ramen noodles straight out of the packet as you did in college, then it's time for an upgrade. During these times of lockdown, quarantine, and limited journeys to supermarkets, home cooking has become more of a pastime for adults and children alike. Pantry meals have become a necessity and one of the most popular stores cupboard items is packets of instant ramen noodles.
Ramen is the most popular dish in Japan and Korea, a brothy noodle dish with fresh veg and lovely umami flavors. Although easy to prepare, it can become boring. Here are are some tips, additions, and genius hacks from chef Hiro Mitsui, executive chef and founder of Ramen by Uzu in Washington, D.C.
Cook the Noodles al Dente
Add Stir-fried Veg and Protein
Chef Mitsu suggests adding vegetables like onion, carrot, broccoli, and spinach and meat in sesame oil. These can be leftovers if they are not available fresh - good stir fry is always so quick to whip up, and you can essentially use up anything and everything in your fridge – making it cheap and budget-friendly.
This will give both protein and flavor.
Spice Things Up
Add shichimi togarashi — a traditional Japanese blend of red chili peppers, sanshō or Sichuan peppercorns, orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, ginger, poppy seeds and nori (seaweed) — on top of your ramen noodles for a special dish. If they are not available, simple black pepper will do the trick.
Add Traditional Toppings (Japanese or Korean)
Make ramen noodles more authentic by adding traditional ramen toppings like sweet corn kernels, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), seaweed, or a poached or seasoned egg.
Finish with Scallions
If time does not allow you to poach eggs, or menma is not available, sliced scallions are a good alternative to finish your dish.