I know I am not the only one who is tired of cooking meals at home in this COVID world. Prior to COVID, I ate lunch out almost every day because I was working from the office. Oftentimes, my team would eat lunch out together and grab a quick meal nearby. Now, in this current work from home environment, I have to remind myself to eat during the work day. I don't know about you, but I feel like working from home is sometimes even more busy than working from the office! Some days are so busy that I forget to eat until 1pm (not even eating a breakfast!). This blog article is for all you work from home folks like me who only have time for a quick lunch fix. I know ramen gets a bad rep for being unhealthy, but hopefully these tips will help you realize that instant ramen can be elevated to a nutrient-filled meal with some added ingredient. When you are in a pinch, this can truly be a life-saver (or at least keep you full until you can really spend time cooking after work).
Add an Egg!
If you have never added eggs to your ramen, whether at a fancy ramen restaurant or at home, you are doing it wrong! Eggs always make the ramen taste better and is a filling, protein-packed ingredient that will keep you full. If you are in a hurry, all you need to do is crack an egg into the boiling ramen when it is midway done. If you have some time to prep before, I would highly recommend making your own ajitama egg (Japanese ramen egg)! I promise you you won't regret the prep work.
Here are quick instructions to make the perfect ajitama egg like the ones you eat at restaurants:
1) Fill a medium pot of water and bring it to a boil.
2) Gently add in your eggs (I used a large spoon). Then, lower the heat to medium heat (not bubbling but simmering). Cook for 7 min for partially runny consistency. This will give you that custard-like consistency that we all know and love.
3) Remove the eggs immediately and spoon them into a ice bath. Leave them in the ice bath for 5 min.
4) Peel the eggs and set aside.
5) In a small Ziploc bag, mix in the following ingredients: 2 tablespoons of mirin, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/4 cup of water.
6) Put in your peeled eggs and seal the ziploc bag. You can tie the top with a rubber band for maximum sauce/egg exposure.
7) Marinate overnight (1-2 days is fine) and enjoy over ramen the next day! They best way to eat this is to cut an egg in half and place the halves facing up in your bowl of ramen.
Add Extra Noodles!
This is an awesome tip that seems self-explanatory but may be new to some - you can actually add more noodles to your ramen! They can be a variety of noodles you find at the supermarket, but I recommend finding packaged ramen noodles (without the seasonings) or other form of thin noodles you can find at an Asian grocery store near you. My mom has always made ramen with added noodles, and this makes the ramen so much more enjoyable because the bowl will feel much more hearty and healthy for you. One tip to adding these extra noodles is to cook them before you add the ramen, because they may take a longer time to cook than the instant ramen. Follow the instructions per the packaging of the noodles you choose.
Add Green Onion!
Green onion is also a key ingredient that you can add to ramen to give it a "umami" flavor. Umami is a Japanese term for an extra sense of taste beyond just sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. Umami is that extra flavor that seals quick dishes like ramen, and spring onions can definitely do the trick. Add chopped spring onions when you are adding in the noodles for their flavor to truly come through. You can also add some to top off you ramen dish. A small difference like this can actually be a game changer - try it and you will see for yourself!
This is a new one for me, but I have seen lots of Korean recipe videos where cheese is added to the ramen, and wow it definitely looks delicious! My recommendation when adding cheese to the ramen is to use easy, meltable cheese like Kraft singles. Another recommendation would be to eat the ramen dry without the soup, and then mix in the cheese with the dry ramen. Dry ramen would require you to pour out the boiled water and add in the ramen seasoning directly to the cooked ramen after you have plated it. Although I have yet to try this myself, adding cheese to ramen sounds like the perfect mix between Asian and Western food - and we all know that fusion food is the best!
Vegetables are also so perfect to add to a ramen dish as they are quick to boil and chop up! The possibilities are really endless here and you can even add frozen vegetables if you are busy. My favorite veggies to add to ramen are broccoli, mushrooms, corn, and cabbage. Adding veggies to my ramen really gives me the fiber that I need while also helps with feeling full and satisfied after a "instant ramen" meal. You will want to add the veggies into the boiling water first before the ramen, as you want the veggies to be soft and thoroughly cooked when the noodles are done.
I hope this gives you a changed perspective and newfound appreciation for the versatility of ramen - such a simple, instant dish can be elevated and made a lot more healthy/satisfying with some additional ingredients. If you like my ideas and want to check out more, feel free to check out my Instagram account @recipeswithrach. Happy feasting!