Ramen Noodles - They are Everywhere- Are they becoming an American Staple or What?
Have you seen the oodles of Ramen Noodles on the shelves....mind boggling....so cheap & with shelf space at a premium, I just don't get it. Do you buy them? If so, what is your favorite flavor & brand & what do you do to doctor them up?
I have come across Ramen Noodle Salad recipe before, but them being in a salad just gives me the willies so I shy away from making them.
But you can hardly go wrong for the price, so maybe we could just see what all we could put in them to get a flavor boost. By the way, if you have eaten the salad, how was it? Does anybody mix & match flavors?
"Do you buy them?" Yes...and no.
We often buy ramen noodles, but only for the noodles themselves. The flavor packs are throwaways, or I use them when backpacking.
For "ramen noodle" the dish, I've used David Chang's recipe, which is multi step. It's a bit involved, but the finished product is excellent. It's like the difference between making chicken noodle soup with canned chicken and bouillon cubes, and making from scratch.OK? Yes. Easy? Yes. Better with elbow grease? Hell Yes.
If you really like ramens, and if you and cooking inclined, take the time to make Chang's recipe. It's not hard, and the ingredients are easy to find. It'll take longer than the "ramen package", but then the final product is literally a thousand times better.
I buy the noodles and doctor them up on occasion. You can do lots of stuff with em. On another thread, I mentioned that I like me, and a few people chimed in with their ways of using cheap ramen packs. Here's the permalink:
I especially like how Kaimukiman suggests using them in a stir-fry.
I also made a fairly elaborate ramen for a competition just earlier this week, using the noodles from the packet. The challenge was to come up with a starter on the fly that showcased mushrooms. Mine was designed in such a way that parts of it could be withheld so it could also be served to vegetarians. Here is the recipe, just cut and pasted from the webpage. It's a lot of work, but several of the techniques can be scaled back and used to good effect for everyday home cooking.
" ***Note – All measurements are approximated. Sometimes badly. The recipes, to the best of my recollection, are how I actually made the dish in competition, not necessarily how I would make them given another chance***
Mushroom Ramen With Pork Belly)
Mushroom ramen broth
Quick-pickled beech mushrooms
Tempura button mushroom
Garnishes: mung bean sprouts, sesame seeds, cilantro, nori sheets, sesame oil
For the ramen broth (some of the mushroom broth went to the second course):
- Approx 10 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
- 5 ounces button mushroom trimmings
- Tablespoon oil for sautéing
- 2 ounces dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 medium to large piece of dried kombu (maybe 2 ounces?)
- handful of bonito flakes
- 1/4 cup miso
- The bottom half (white end) of a bunch of green onions
- A generous thumb’s worth of fresh ginger
- 1/3 cup of neutral oil – I used safflower
- About 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- Generous splash of mirin
- Salt to taste
Sauté the cremini mushrooms until deep brown. Place the sautéed mushrooms in a pressure cooker with the dried shitakes and the un-seared button mushroom trimmings. Add about 5 cups of water and cook at full pressure for 30 minutes. Release pressure and strain the broth. Discard mushrooms (or if you were as short of mushrooms as I was, keep them to add later to the quinoa in the second course)
Meanwhile add kombu to 8 cups of water on the stovetop. Slowly heat, but don’t let it boil. Keep the kombu infusing in water that’s just below a simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the kombu. Bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add bonito flakes. Let the bonito flakes infuse for a couple minutes. Then strain the broth. You’ve now made dashi.
Meanwhile, combine the green onions, ginger, and neutral oil. Blend thoroughly.
When all 3 components are made, combine the dashi with 3 cups of the mushroom broth (save the rest of the mushroom broth for the second course). Add miso and green onion-ginger oil. Emulsify thoroughly with an immersion blender. Season the broth with soy sauce, mirin, and salt. Ramen broth is complete – now keep it hot.
For the quick-pickled beech mushrooms:
- 5 ounces separated beech mushrooms
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup white vinegar (I would have used rice vinegar if I had it)
- 2 tablespoons of mirin
- Tablespoon of coriander
- Tablespoon mustard seed
Combine water and salt (about 1-2 tablespoons – you want the final pickling solution to be just shy of seawater-salty). Add the coriander seed and mustard seed – it would probably be better if you toasted em first, but I didn’t do that. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and add vinegar and mirin. Mix and then add mushrooms. Let infuse for a few hours.
For the pork belly:
- 1 1/4 pound slab of pork belly
Score the fat cap of the pork belly and season both sides with salt. Grill on a very hot charcoal fire. Flareups are fine – let em happen. Blacken the surface of the pork belly on both sides (fat side especially), more charring than you’d normally go for on a grill, but not burnt to a cinder. Rinse the pork belly under water, rubbing the surface to remove some of the excess char. Then put it in a pressure cooker with 1/2 cup of water and more salt to taste. Cook at full pressure for 40 minutes or so until tender. Remove the pork belly and slice it. Let the liquid sit for a bit, pour off most of the fat, and reserve for the next course.
For the egg:
- one medium egg per serving
Cook the egg sous vide at 147 deg F for 70 minutes or longer. Hold in sous vide water bath until service.
For the tempura button mushrooms:
- One half of a medium sized button mushroom per serving
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup rice flour
- oil for deep frying
Heat oil to 350-375. Mix the flours with about 2 cups very cold water to form a thin batter. Don’t overmix. In about 3 batches, dip the mushrooms in the batter and then deep fry until batter is crisp, about 90 seconds.
For the Ramen noodles:
- The noodles from 3 packs of instant ramen
Discard the packets from instant ramen noodles. Boil noodles until cooked. Strain. Cover. Seriously, ramen noodles are a bitch to make from scratch.
To plate and serve:
Put the ramen noodles in a bowl. Carefully crack a sous vide-cooked egg into the bowl next to the noodles – don’t worry if a little bit of the white stays in the shell. Re-emulsify the ramen broth if necessary, then pour the hot ramen broth over the egg and the noodles (the broth firms up the egg white just a bit while leaving the yolk molten). Put the mung bean sprouts and pickled beech mushrooms on top. Then a slice of pork belly. Then, on top, the tempura mushroom. Stick a piece of the nori sheet into the side of bowl, upright. Sprinkle the whole thing with a few sesame seeds, cut cilantro, and a scant drizzling of sesame oil. Serve with chopsticks. "
cowboyardee..wow, the lowely ramen has risen to new heights. Thanks a bunch for all those recipes...wonder if there is a "Ramen" cookbook out there somewhere, I can already tell you Chow people will "doctor" anything, given the opportunity. By the way, how did you do in the competition?
Ah, sorry - I misread your post. It was a two-man competition. I lost the overall competition by 5 points out of 600 total. But I won on the 'flavor' aspect of the scoring, and this particular dish won the first round.
More details about the competition are here, if anyone is interested:
I rarely buy ramen, and rarely doctor them up, but once every few months it's good for a snack. I just tried MaMa brand from Thailand, and boy, they make great ramen. You get a wet seasoning pack instead of dry, plus a little sachet of hot chili powder. I tried the pork flavor this week, think it was 39¢ or something. I'll buy those again.