5 Quick Bespoke Ramen Noddle Dishes
One of the sadder side effects of globalization has been the flattening of foods, especially into convenient prepackaged editions. What happens if we are working with something as ubiquitous and flat as the Ramen cake? The one with the flavor packet that some of us have at some point or other simply torn open and mixed with the pre-cooked noodle cake. What could we possibly do with it that does not smack of cram nights at university?
As it turns out, a bit of care put into the presentation can do wonders for this much maligned go-to noodle solution. Here are a few humble ideas.
Miyazaki’s presentation of the basic, filling Ramen meal can be a mesmerizing, inspiring one. You have to cook your noodles so that they are fairly soupy, and garnish with some bacon and a halved boiled egg.
Throw in some green leafy stuff or at least chopped green onions if you have got them around in the fridge. You can probably cook the bacon right in the pot with the noodles, but if you had some rashers left over, you can use them the way you prefer.
Noodles… on the rocks
We are doing some dodgy mix-and-mash here, but it is all right if you are not trying to make money off it or pass it off as the next incarnation of avant-garde ethnic cooking. Cook some broth, but cook it spicy—if you have Korean-style chili paste or Gochujang at hand, feel free to use it.
Then boil some vegetables and dice them up, add in some sliced pear, and throw the cooked noodles into a bowl with ice cubes. Mix all the ingredients up after a while. The contrast of the cold and the spicy, the soft chewy noodles and the crispness of the pears should definitely make a weekday dinner more interesting.
This is a trick where you cook the noodles with the contents of the flavour packet, but using a little less water than you were instructed to. If you have got fancy whole-grain bread, slice it up for the sandwich.
Put a whole lot of cheese on the insides of the bread slices and layer the cooked Ramen noodle mass as the sandwich 'meat’. Now it is time to pop the whole thing on a skillet you have sprayed or coated with cooking spray or oil, and let it stay until it is nice and gooey and delicious.
But what if you have some ideas about Japanese cooking and want to try something a bit more complicated? If white miso, edamame, shiitake mushrooms and mirin are available, keep them around as you cook the noodles. Instead of using the flavor packet, go the extra mile and cook a broth with vegetable or chicken stock from the fridge. Mix some of the miso into this broth.
You probably have quite a few other leftover vegetables in the fridge, and the fun of a mix-and-match Ramen dinner can be coming up with various combinations of the same components you always do have. So put the mushrooms and edamame together with bell pepper slices, green beans, carrots, mustard, lemon juice or what have you. What do you have? Miso-infused Ramen! That is not too bad.
Yet another gentle Asian inspiration: the egg drop soup. As you are cooking the broth let it come to an actual rolling boil. Make sure you are using a cooking vessel that can handle this, though. If you have a wok that is perfect but a deep saucepan will do just as well.
Break an egg or two into a small bowl, and slowly introduce the eggs into the boiling soup through a fork. You can get a little experimental here, see if you can get the ribbon like look they achieve in Chinese restaurants. But the simple shredded egg soup look will be just as appetizing.
© 2013 Juana Aman