If you are a college student, living off of a fixed income, or just trying to make ends meet (which means pretty much every non-independently wealthy person living and working in 2015), you are likely no stranger to ramen. Living off of ramen is practically a rite of passage for college students. There is almost a secret shame associated with eating ramen, due to its associations with poverty and malnutrition.
There’s no need to be ashamed! We’ve all been there. 95 billion servings of ramen were consumed in 2011, and Nissin, the producer of convenience store favorite Top Ramen sells over $3.2 billion a year. At 12.5 cents a piece, you do the math!
The stigma against ramen isn’t necessarily that it’s bad, it’s just that the way most people eat it isn’t that good for you. Yes, ramen will fill your belly, sending warm shivers of comforting joy into your abdomen as you drink down its nourishing broth, but an entire meal of dehydrated noodles and a flavor packet is going to be missing some vital nutrients.
Ramen can be as simple or as elaborate as you make it. Japan and China have always had ramen restaurants, and the U.S. is starting to follow suit. Starting with the barebones framework of noodles and broth, it is possible to make healthy, delicious meals for ridiculously cheap. You just have to get a little creative.
We’ve assembled some tips on how to make your ramen more deluxe!
7 Tips For Exceptional Ramen
- Egg Drop Soup(ish): Probably the easiest, most basic, and cheapest way to doctor up and flesh out your ramen is by simply adding an egg. Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs can be diced up into little pieces, or an egg can be cracked into the boiling water to poach an egg.
- Use Miso Instead Of Broth: Adding one teaspoon of miso in the boiling water instead of the flavor packet is another simple way to make ramen more nutritious, as well as making it more authentic.
- Faux Pho: This is a sort of fusion of ramen and the popular Vietnamese dish. As with Pho, you can add pretty much whatever you want to the broth, but for the carnivores, try getting a thin cut of decent steak, slicing it into thin slivers, and adding the uncooked meat to the boiling broth. The water cooks the meat while catching all of the juices, making it both nutritious and utterly, utterly delicious!
- Eat Your Vegetables: For the non-carnivorous, or people who just want to have a balanced diet, add some vegetables to your ramen! Add tougher vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, or mixed vegetables to the brother 2 – 3 minutes before the noodles are done, and softer, more delicate veggies like baby spinach or thinly sliced cabbage a few seconds before serving, to give a bit of crunch (and some much needed nutrition) to your ramen dish.
- Ramen Casserole: Did you know you can broil ramen? For those who’ve been living off of slimy, plain noodles for too long, here’s your chance to switch things up. Simply take the noodles off two or three minutes before the noodles are done, drain the broth, and place them in an oven-safe dish in the broiler for a minute. This creates a crispy top layer, with softer noodles underneath.
- Stir Fry: This is similar to broiling the ramen, except you flash fry the noodles in a hot skillet (or a wok, if you’ve got it) with sizzling oil. Consider adding some spices to the hot oil, for even more flavor!
- Make It Authentic: For the true ramen aficionado, you can incorporate a number of traditional Japanese and Chinese ingredients for the ultimate experience! Sesame seeds; seaweed; furikake, a seasoning that contains seaweed and sesame seeds; and kamabako, or cured fish slices, can be had from most Asian supermarkets, and for relatively cheap.
Living off of ramen doesn’t have to be a hardship (although we do recommend you get your fruits and vegetables as often as possible). There’s much that can be done with noodles, broth, sauces, and ingredients. Try out these suggestions, use your imagination, and your creativity!
How do you like to doctor up your ramen? Let us know in the comments!