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Instant Ramen gets an upgrade

 
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Guilty pleasure - I love instant ramen noodles.  These are a super-affordable, super-quick source of carbs and flavour.   When I was living on a dollar a day, a packet of Pot Noodles cost about 14pennies and would do for two meals' worth of carbs.  Add some cheese and veg to the dish with half an apple as dessert and it's surprising how long it takes for that meal to get boring.  

Even now, I still love my guilty pleasure of instant ramen.  Today I cooked it with dumplings and frozen veg - all take about the same cooking time.  Sometimes I'll use the ramen as a foundation for a fancy meal.  

How do you love your ramen?  

Here are some ideas

 
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I cook 5 packages of Ramen, drain the water. Toss a stick of butter in the pot to melt. Stir in 3 flavor packets. Tear up a bunch of radish leaves or mustard leaves, stir in to wilt. Add in some browned sliced summer sausage. Top with parmasian cheese.

Quick, filling, and 3 people are stuffed and happy.
 
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#2 Son also adores them, and I use them when dinner gets rushed.

I *always* start with some of my homemade bone broth that's normally made with herbs like Sage, Marjoram, Parsley, and Walking Onion greens. This freezes well, but if there's fat on the top, it will actually last a week or so just in the fridge if the broth is poured hot into a clean glass jar so that the fat seals the top. I can remember watching a historical farm series about cooking which showed this technique of sealing with fat.

The most common things I add to the stock while I'm heating it up are parsley, more walking onion greens, and dried mushrooms if I have them. This is a great meal if you've got scraps of meat left that aren't really enough to serve 2-3 people, after all, that's how "soup" originated - take the day's leftovers and toss them in the pot! I'll then add whatever veg are around - carrot, zucchini, sweet pepper, peas, beans, bok choy and it's relatives, etc. I have to be careful with some of the cole family, as it can easily overwhelm it. I toss the broken up noodle in at the end so they soak up much of the broth, so to be honest, it's more like a stew than a soup when I'm done.
 
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I love to make mine spicy with some chili garlic sauce. I'll crack an egg in the pot when I drop the noodles in, as well as shredded cabbage if I have it.

Once it's in my bowl, I add a hefty amount of Kim chee.  Feels more like a meal instead of a little noodle snack
 
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I am Japanese American and embrace "Japanese" food (even ramen which is Chinese-Japanese food), and in my blended family I have to admit it took me a while to stomach the idea of my new son (8 at the time) putting cheese in ramen! 😆

Living in our tiny camper, ramen IS one of our frequent go-tos. My hub can't eat soy which really limits the cultural fit, but here is what we do when hankering for Asian style ramen:

We get a-sha Taiwanese ramen from Costco when they have it. Dried, not fried, much better nutrition, and the soup base is delicious (hub skips that). Still a cheap fill.

When we get to an Asian food store we stock up on Ochazuke which is a little Japanese soup packet without soy (salmon, ume plum, fish stock, seaweed, rice crackers). Hub likes that for his soup base.

We add 5 sheets of the snack seaweed from Costco (5 because 4 means death, odd numbers are auspicious, and 7 takes up too much space 😊).

A hard boiled egg.

Whatever veg we have on hand -- leftovers, or a quick sautee, or some grilled veg

If we have some leftover slices of grilled pork or chicken, all the better!

Now that Costco stopped carrying a-sha I just get soba noodles when I get to an Asian grocery and do the same thing. Then I use miso for the broth and hub has Ochazuke.

I just bought some lentil miso and Adzuki bean miso in Albuquerque, so when we get home we can both have that... It will be liberating to have Asian food we can both eat! (I wonder what Asians with soy sensitivities do??)

Can't wait until we get a kitchen and can make our own miso!!

We agree it's a great, quick, satisfying, winter-comforting meal!

OK, as you were -- don't let me limit you from smothering your ramen in cheese or butter or ketchup or whatever you love!

All good!

😂

 
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OK - so what are your favorite brands of ramen?
 
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Wait a minute.....you're supposed to cook Ramen noodles??  :-)

....the minimalist ways of college friends and roomies always joked that one could skip the thermodynamic preamble and just munch them like crackers.  If time permitted, the little salt/flavoring packet could be sprinkled on as a 'haute cuisine bonus'! .... LOL.   But as noted here, it's amazing how Ramen has entered the realm of staple item at fast noodle shops nation wide and provide satisfaction to so many.
 
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I do not have sources but I do remember reading that some kinds of kidney disease problems are linked to ramen noodle consumption in Korea.
 
r ranson
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George Ulrich wrote:I do not have sources but I do remember reading that some kinds of kidney disease problems are linked to ramen noodle consumption in Korea.



One instant ramen pack usually has about a days worth of salt, so when people consume it more than once a day health problems can happen... Which pretty much goes for most foods.   Consume in moderation.  

These days I usually have ramen about once a week as a treat.  
 
r ranson
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jacque greenleaf wrote:OK - so what are your favorite brands of ramen?



These days I'm lucky and can get the expensive stuff.  I usually go for Korean flavours, but the mild ones as the spicy stuff can get pretty intense.  

I like it because the noodle pucks are round and fit in the smallest fry pan or a pottery cook pot.  
 
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My wife likes to include it in stir fries.  Toward the end of cooking the veggies, she puts in the noodles (without the salt pack!) and we still have it over rice.  

My wife always does "half salt" and we avoid the brands with MSG.  I like to sneak the other half of the salt pack into other dishes that call for bouillon, but she frowns on that.  I just hate to throw it away.
 
Jay Angler
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r ranson wrote:

George Ulrich wrote:I do not have sources but I do remember reading that some kinds of kidney disease problems are linked to ramen noodle consumption in Korea.



One instant ramen pack usually has about a days worth of salt, so when people consume it more than once a day health problems can happen... Which pretty much goes for most foods.   Consume in moderation.  

These days I usually have ramen about once a week as a treat.  

Actually, I mostly use the noodles and leave the spice pack - or add only one spice pack to a family sized batch with two blocks of noodles. Because I'm using my own low-salt bone broth, there's plenty of flavor that doesn't require so much from the spice pack.

I then end up with all these spice packs! Often if I'm cooking a cup of raw rice, I'll add 1/2 a spice pack to that. I've also used the veggie flavor one to turn mayo into a dip for veggies.

But yes, the spice packs that come with the noodles are high in salt and MSG. As R Ranson says, consume in moderation!
 
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My husband usually makes them with a whole whack of frozen peas dumped in with the noodles and a beaten egg stirred in at the last minute.

Sometimes he'll shred up a quarter head or so of iceberg lettuce and put that in his bowl. Then he cooks the noodles in just enough water that by the time they're done, it's like they're in a thick sauce. He dumps that over the lettuce, mixes it up, and the lettuce wilts a bit, but is mostly crunchy still.

I think he only uses a quarter or so of the flavour packet. He's got a whole jar full of partial and loose packages in the cupboard. Most of the ones he buys have oil and dried vegetable packets with them, too.
For those, he uses the whole amount.

If he has kimchi flavoured ramen, he eats it with kimchi, naturally.
 
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Even though I love instant ramen -Because of the sodium content and msg and palm oil, I just stock up on packages of plain dried rice noodles, dry mung bean based noodles, dry based yam noodles or even wheat ones- Soba also buckwheat and wheat.
They’re cheap in bulk and last forever.
I add my own seasonings chili peppers and whatever veg and protein available. Big handfuls of greens etc
International groceries are so good especially for dried staples.
 
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I have never cared for the ramen noodles that come in the package with the seasoning packet.  Dear hubby loves it with beans.

I buy the Cup of Noodles that has dehydrated vegetables in it.

I have been looking at lots of yummy pictures on Pinterest


source


source
 
Jan White
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Mary Allen- Lynch wrote:Even though I love instant ramen -Because of the sodium content and msg and palm oil, I just stock up on packages of plain dried rice noodles, dry mung bean based noodles, dry based yam noodles or even wheat ones- Soba also buckwheat and wheat.
They’re cheap in bulk and last forever.



The palm oil and msg is a big issue for me, too. My husband is already pretty careful about sodium, so I don't worry about that.

I tried stocking up on rice noodles one time, so he would switch over. He used up all his ramen and by the time he got to the rice noodles, he said they tasted stale. He wasn't just whining, either. He was totally open to switching noodles. He got through most of them and composted the rest. So, unfortunately, they don't last forever.
 
Jay Angler
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Who says you have to use instant noodles for Japanese/Korean dishes? #2 Son got an Indian girlfriend - we all know the impact girls can have on young men! Truly, she's a delightful young lady and is applying for Canadian citizenship, but her idea of "not very spicy" and mine are aaaaa..... very different.

The local small Asian Grocery has a wide assortment of international foods, particularly spices. So #2 Son made himself up a big batch of curry noodles by heating fat in our big saucepan, adding onion and curry spice, tossing in all sorts of frozen veggies - he particularly likes lots of peas and a little corn for sweetness - and then adding just enough bone broth* to cook the Ramen noodles, but not leave too much liquid left over. He usually does at least 3 packages at a time, so he has 3-4 meals which he can either eat for several days, or freeze if he thinks he'll get bored of it before finishing it.

* Bone broth: save any and all bones from food you've eaten, along with carrot tops, onion peels, celery leaves or bases, etc in a bag in the freezer. Empty the bag into a pot/slow cooker with enough water to mostly cover it, add about a tablespoon of vinegar (this helps get the calcium and other nutrients out of the bones) and let it cook for several hours. Start with the lid on, but after 3 hours or so, use a slotted spoon to get most of the big stuff out and then leave the lid off so it will thicken a little. For very little work, this adds a ton of quality minerals to ones diet.
 
r ranson
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I always think it's fun to see how words transfer into new languages.

In English, we call all sorts of raw fish and rolled rice/seaweed 'sushi'.  In Japan, it's a very specific kind of 'sushi' that is called 'sushi' and all these variations, even the vegan ones, have their own words.  We even call Korean kimbap 'sushi' in the shops here.  

Likewise, the word Pumpkin in Japan refers to almost all winter squash.  

Anwyay, we call these instant noodles ramen here, but so many of them aren't.  There's Korean ramen, there's Japanese ones - both these often have soy in the sauce.  Then there are the Chinese versions and the Indian ones, and I've seen some from the middle east, and the weird whole-food ones with no wheat but lots of soy.  We have one grocery store in town that has one whole aisle dedicated to instant noodles from around the world.

I like the British-flavoured ones.  Sort of a fusion of British Curry flavours and Japanese convenience food.  Cook up some vegies to put on the side and these can be amazingly healthy as they tend to have very little salt and a lot of hidden herbs and veg in the broth.  I once saw one with nettles as one of the first ingredients.  But alas, the British ones are hard to get here.  
 
r ranson
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A recipe from my youth.  The type of noodle you choose has a huge influence on how this tastes but almost any flavour tastes good except shrimp.  Make sure it's a brand with the sauce packet separate.  I like kimchi best for this.  

One su choy cabbage - or other sweet cabbage - shredded

crush a ramen pack without opening it so the noodles will be in fairly small chunks.  When done, carefully open the ramen and take out the dry veg (keep for next time you are cooking something in boiling water) and the sauce pack.  Place noodles to one side.


Mix the sauce packet from the ramen with
1/2 cup Balsamic vin
1/2 cup olive oil (the nicest kind you got)

(there's usually enough seaweed in the sauce to emulsify the dressing)

Toss dressing with cabbage, cover and put in the fridge for 2-4 hours.

1/2 cup slivered almonds - toast them in a fry pan or oven until they turn golden and smell amazing.  

Combine noddles and almonds with the cabbage while the almonds are still hot.  

Eat right away befoe the noodles go soggy.  Although it does taste pretty good as leftovers too.  
 
r ranson
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Although this works for most pasta, it's strangely delicious for ramen.  

Put about 4 cups of water in a pot - you don't have to measure.  Bring to a boil and add a pinch salt if desired (adding salt to a cold pan can damage the metal and make it harder to clean and cleaning dishes is hard enough already).  

Chop up some broccoli head fairly fine.  I usually go for 2 to 4 times the volume of the pasta.  Cook until soft, lift the broccoli out and leave the water in the pan.  

(optional extra, throw in some pealed cloves of garlic with the broccoli)

Bring the water back to a boil and add the noodles and any dry veg from the packet (but not the broth packet).  

While that's cooking, mash up the broccoli with olive oil or butter.  

(optional, add an anchovy and some crushed garlic for flavour)

Sprinkle in some of the sauce packet on the broccoli mash to taste.  Add some cooking liquid in to make it into a soft paste or thick sauce.  

When the noodles are cooked, drain and combine with the broccoli mash.  

Optional - serve with shredded cheese or just a drizzle of olive oil.  Both are delicious.  
 
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Ramen is one of those few foods that is good anytime, even when drawn!



Now Im hungry :) Using a dense broth with some overnight dashi stock turns it into an extremely glorious meal!!
 
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if only there was cheap gluten free ramen.

Before I knew I had a picky gut, I used to like my ramen drained, with mayo, and a dash of the seasoning, some green onions, shaved carrot, hoisin, and whatever meat I had, usually canned chicken, sometimes beef.

The sodium though!  I would have to drink a gallon of water to level out haha
 
r ranson
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S Rogers wrote:if only there was cheap gluten free ramen.



I've seen gf ramen at whole foods.  Not sure if it qualified as cheap.
 
Kimi Iszikala
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r ranson wrote:I always think it's fun to see how words transfer into new languages.

In English, we call all sorts of raw fish and rolled rice/seaweed 'sushi'.  In Japan, it's a very specific kind of 'sushi' that is called 'sushi' and all these variations, even the vegan ones, have their own words.  We even call Korean kimbap 'sushi' in the shops here.  
 



"Su" means vinegar and "shi" means rice... The key ingredient in sushi is vinegared (and seasoned) rice. Some sushi has raw fish (sashimi) and some doesn't. Sushi can be loose in a bowl with other ingredients (maybe including raw fish) sprinkled on top -- chirashizushi. It can be a compressed puck of the rice with sashimi or egg or cooked eel or shrimp, etc on top (nigirizushi). It can be rolled into seaweed with ingredients in the center and sliced like gimbap (makizushi). It can be inserted in a marinated fried tofu pouch (inarizushi). They are all still called sushi collectively.

I also love the language twists... I studied Chinese briefly in Japan (a lost cause because I could mimic and pronounce much better than the Japanese students but they could grasp meaning from the written word vastly better than me -- it was just a mismatch). One funny exchange was when the Chinese teacher asked me (speaking Japanese) what we call hakusai in English. I sheepishly replied "Chinese cabbage." She burst out laughing and said in China they call kyabejji (the Japanese pronunciation of cabbage) "western hakusai" so I needn't have been so embarrassed about it!
 
Kimi Iszikala
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S Rogers wrote:if only there was cheap gluten free ramen.



My husband likes rice noodles. They work well for noodle soup if you like them.
 
r ranson
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Yesterday I went a different direction with my ramen.  I slow cooked it in a pottery dish (takes about 20 min) with some dumplings on top.  While that was cooking, I stir fried some broccoli with garlic.  Added a small drizzle  of oyster sauce, then put a lid on that and left it to cook on low until the ramen was ready.

When everything was cooked through, I grabbed some snow peas from the freezer that I had blanched last spring and combined it all in the pottery dish.  So yummy!  
 
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My favorite analogy for the sushi confusion: raw fish is to sushi what pepperoni is to pizza. Yes, it is by far the most iconic topping, but pizza without pepperoni is still pizza, right? And conversely, pepperoni served with other foods or by itself does not constitute pizza, because pizza's most basic identity is a flatbread. So likewise, sushi's basic identity is the vinegared rice, as Kimi explained. One can put almost anything in or on it, but without the proper rice, it's not sushi. Does that make sense?

Getting back to ramen, I used to only do the typical things like adding an egg or frozen vegetables. I'm trying to cook a lot more with dried vegetables, though, so I usually add some dried mushrooms and onions while the water boils - maybe boil a bit longer before the noodles, and put the more delicate freeze-dried veg like spinach and peas in my bowl, along with wakame on top. I'd love to see us here in the West come around to using more dried foods!
 
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I eat ramen noodle sparingly and When I do I add a dozen things in the soup: seaweeds, mushrooms, okra, egg, cauliflower, napa cabbage, meat balls, shrimps etc. I prefer udon noodle but the local grocery stores no longer carry that so ramen is a quick and economic substitute.

One concern I have with ramen is the glycemic index. According to online info, it's considered to be low at 52. However, if I eat the whole pack of 54g of carb, I have the blood glucose surge so bad it knocks me out for the next several hours. I have no problem with carb in potatoes, sweet potato or squashes. So when I cook ramen, I only use half or 1/3 of the pack and minimal amount of the spices . Then I eat veggies or meats first, I usually feel full before I finish up the noodles.
 
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May Lotito wrote: So when I cook ramen, I only use half or 1/3 of the pack and minimal amount of the spices . Then I eat veggies or meats first, I usually feel full before I finish up the noodles.

Absolutely! I only eat the equivalent of about 1/3 also, as it fits in what I consider a "simple carbohydrate" category, but the way I prepare them, they reheat quite well, so I often make enough for "planned overs".
 
John Weiland
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Not long ago I bought some bean thread noodles thinking "Hey, these will be high in protein and low in carbs!....".  Was stunned to find out that they have less protein than the equivalent wheat, rice, or similar noodle.   They still are quite tasty and a good noodle variant in a diet already pretty overloaded with wheat and potato starch.
 
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I toss the internal packages into garbage after I read what they put into those packages.  Use my own spices.
 
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Michael Moreken wrote:I toss the internal packages into garbage after I read what they put into those packages.  Use my own spices.



Can you share your spices?   How do you give the noodles an upgrade?
 
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My mom makes a salad with the uncooked noodles, that I used to really enjoy. She crumbles them up, then adds scallions, shredded napa cabbage, and a couple other things (sorry, I can't remember what, because I've not been able to eat it, in years), and a vinaigrette - I think made with sesame seed oil and white wine vinegar, or something? The noodles hold their crunch for a good while, and it's pretty tasty.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:My mom makes a salad with the uncooked noodles, that I used to really enjoy. She crumbles them up, then adds scallions, shredded napa cabbage, and a couple other things (sorry, I can't remember what, because I've not been able to eat it, in years), and a vinaigrette - I think made with sesame seed oil and white wine vinegar, or something? The noodles hold their crunch for a good while, and it's pretty tasty.


I have a recipe for a ramen noodle salad which is really tasty: Ramen noodle salad
Only downside is that it is very filling as the noodles get fried in butter upfront. You could try alternative ways but I guess this is what makes the salad so good.
 
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