How to Make Ramen Noodles Restaurant Worthy
Transforming inexpensive instant noodles into a comforting meal
What to cook for dinner? In this COVID-19 coronavirus age of #stayathome and limited supplies at the grocery stores, many of us find ourselves going back a bit in time when we made due with what we had and when we gathered together for a meal at the end of the day. Maybe even when we were in college and ate cases of ramen noodles.
Most of us are home now anyway, so we might as well gather around the family kitchen table, right? Or the living room sofa. Or the open-concept kitchen counter. But for quite a few, the challenge of putting a nice comforting meal on the table is well, challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. Nor does it have to be expensive.
With the economic uncertainties of the effects of the pandemic on the world trade market, stocks are surging up and down like a roller coaster. So many – way too many – are no longer working through no fault of anything other than the repercussions of this core-shaking time we are forced to deal with. We are all watching our pennies and rethinking our shopping lists from focusing on what we want to what we need.
One solution on how to solve the dilemma of what to make for dinner? Enter the humble package of ramen noodles. That standard for university students, for those newly living on their own, or just because of plain and simple times that are hard right now no matter what stage of human life we are in. Depending on where you live, a package can be bought for about 50 cents, give or take and factoring in a sale or coupon. But who really will sit down to a bowl of noodles in broth and walk away feeling not only a full tummy but quite pleased that they had a fine meal?
This is where ramen presents itself on your kitchen counter, and you get to be creative while saving on your food budget all at the same time.
In places where ramen is a staple and served up in restaurants right alongside other higher-priced and fancier menu items like Wagyu beef, these steaming bowls of comfort food arrive in front of us brimming with toppings to delight our taste buds.
Imagine a bowl of chewy wheat noodles nestled in a hot broth with a couple of pieces of tender thinly-sliced pork, hearty sliced eggs, briny crunches of seaweed, spicy Korean kimchee, and colorful circles of chopped green onion… maybe even a couple or more savory stuffed dumplings.
Some ramen shops have achieved Michelin-star status. Some bowls of ramen will set you back $15. Fifteen dollars for a 50-cent bag of noodles and a seasoning packet. Okay, so those restaurants are making their own broth with bone stock that takes a couple of days… that’s not the point. In today’s world, you can make these comfort food bowls of deliciousness on your own. And you can make use of bits of leftovers and this and that to do it. Before you know it, the top of your ramen bowl is decorated with morsels of food bites glistening like holiday gifts under a pine tree.
Toppings made to order
Let’s get you started on how you can adorn your own bowls of ramen noodles. Let’s say maybe you have leftover chicken – just shred it and put a portion of that on your ramen. Got some eggs? Boil a few and slice them in half and add that to your bowl. It’s amazing how a simple sliced egg becomes so enticing. Just a few handfuls of things are all you need to fill in the spaces at the top of your ramen noodle bowl (and the rumbling spaces in your tummy). Maybe you’ve got some leftover pieces of vegetables from the preparation of previous meals. This is when those small bits of leftovers come in really handy and just a few stretch so far. Try adding to your ramen noodles a few mushrooms, beansprouts, slivered carrots, sliced bok choy, edamame, spinach, slivered Spam (yes, we said the “S” word). And why not even think outside the box and change the nationality of your ramen noodles? What if you Americanized it?
How about a ramen bowl topped with golden kernels of corn, sliced leftover fried chicken, chopped bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and dare we say it? Cheese! This is a phenomenon that is really popular in places like Korea. They like cheese on everything. Hey, try it, you might like a heavy sprinkling of shredded cheddar or mozzarella on your ramen. Maybe even try sliced pepperoni for a protein and sliced green peppers and make a pizza version of ramen noodles. Really, the possibilities are endless!
So, whip out those chopsticks – or a fork will do – and big soup spoons if you have them. If not, picking up the bowl with both hands and slurping the broth from it are perfectly acceptable. In fact, in traditional Japanese dining, the louder your slurp the better – it’s like saying, “My compliments to the chef!”