Five Instant Ramen Hacks: Improving Instant Ramen
I enjoy instant ramen. Since I can remember, I’ve been making instant noodles. My parents always kept cans of Maruchan instant ramen in the pantry, and I learned how to make it when I was very little.
Without any modifications, the traditional packet of crispy fried noodles with flavor dust is incredibly affordable and quite excellent. But over time, I’ve discovered a few tricks that have improved my noodle-slurping experience, such as what to put to instant ramen.
1. Experiment with various instant ramen brands.
Today, a variety of instant ramen brands can be seen lining the shelves in the soup area of any supermarket. In the past year alone, my neighborhood grocery store has added dozens of additional alternatives.
Although these packs can cost a little more than the most basic blocks of instant noodles, they are still quite inexpensive and typically cost less than a couple of dollars.
For even more choices in instant noodles, I also suggest visiting your neighborhood Asian grocery store. Over the past year, I’ve been visiting my neighborhood H-Mart on a regular basis. I’ve discovered numerous new instant ramen brands there that I adore, and I haven’t even begun to sample their entire selection.
The noodles in these deluxe instant ramen noodles have a better texture, and each dish frequently contains several flavor packs. The additional flavor packets give your standard bowl of instant noodles a richer, more complex flavor.
Packs of instant ramen with fresh noodles that raise my instant soup game even further may be obtained at H-mart. At almost $3 per serving, those are undoubtedly the most expensive, but they are well worth it for the far better noodle taste.
Begin with Stock
One of the best instant ramen hacks is to use stock rather than water. You can’t top the rich mouthfeel that handmade stock provides to soups of all kinds, even instant ramen. I’ve been making Instant Pot stock regularly for the past year and even recorded a video about it.
Use a high-quality box of store-bought stock or bone broth if this is too much of a step for you. Use a brand with reduced sodium content or none at all, as the flavor packets provided with instant ramen include all the salt you require. I’ve discovered that with a very nice broth, I can get away with using only half of the seasoning packs that are high in sodium, and my heart appreciates it!
What can be added to Instant ramen? So Many Delicious Things!
The only ingredients in a plain instant ramen packet are noodles and broth. Ramen can be made heartier, though, by adding a variety of ingredients. What could I put in ramen? To make instant soup feel more like a meal, I prefer to add some protein-rich mix-ins.
I also enjoy frozen fish balls, which I frequently keep on hand and can be found at my neighborhood Asian grocery store. Wontons are another freezer treasure that I enjoy including in my ramen. When I discover these, I always buy a bag to put in my ramen.
We smoke a lot of meat on our Big Green Egg over the summer, and we freeze leftovers in little zip-top containers. These leftovers are delicious additions to ramen. I adore how the BBQed meat’s smokiness gives the broth character.
Include some leftover chicken if nothing else. Alternatively, you may cut some raw bacon into pieces that are about 2-3 inches long and add them to your broth toward the end of simmering; they won’t require much time to cook through.
Scallions are a non-meat ingredient that I like to add when my broth is starting to boil. In particular, I like to season the broth using slices of the heartier scallion ends while reserving the green ends for garnish—oh wait, this is foreshadowing!
Things to Add to Instant Ramen: Ideas for Hearty Ramen Add-Ins
- Frozen meatballs
- Rotisserie chicken
- Leftover BBQ meat
- Fish balls/fish cakes
- Thin-cut bacon
- Thinly sliced beef or pork belly
- Sliced mushrooms
- Dehydrated wakame seaweed
- Chopped Bok choy
Add to The Seasoning Pack
It’s not necessary for flavor to end with the stock and your seasoning pack. With a few condiments I always have on hand, I like to boost my flavor pack. Give one of these add-ons a shot.
For a nutty flavor and a richer mouthfeel in your instant ramen broth, whisk in sesame paste or peanut butter. Alternately, you may add some miso to your broth to create a miso ramen soup. Add some gochujang to give the dish some Korean flavor.
Additionally, I enjoy the umami that some quick dashi powder adds to the dish. Just keep in mind to wait to add the seasoning pack until you’ve tasted the soup if you decide to add some of the more sodium-heavy alternatives. Seasoning can always be increased but not decreased.
And when ramen is served, I like to add a little heat to my bowl: sambal, Sriracha, or Chinese hot oil are some of my favorite methods to do this.
Things to Add to Instant Ramen: Ideas for Ramen Seasoning Add-Ins
- Miso paste
- Sesame paste
- Peanut butter
- Instant dashi granules
- Chinese hot oil
Add Tasty Garnishes on Top.
Tasty toppings are the last step to a souped-up bowl of instant ramen. I used to whisk an egg when I was a child and sprinkle it into the boiling broth to resemble egg drop soup. I prefer a jammy egg on top these days.
I cook my eggs in the Instant Pot with a cup of water on high pressure for 5 minutes to achieve a flawless egg.
I also enjoy eating chopped cilantro, nori squares, and the green bits of my scallions.
Things to Add to Instant Ramen: Ideas for Ramen Garnish Add-Ins
Bonus Tip: Purchase a Bowl
Get yourself a good ramen dish and some chopsticks as a final trick. Even if your noodles just cost a few cents, having the appropriate serving ware helps you feel like you’re in a good ramen restaurant.
At H-Mart, I picked up some inexpensive, attractive, and more crucially, deep bowls. And today I serve a variety of noodle-based recipes in these bowls!
I’m hoping that my instant ramen hacks will motivate you to upgrade the flavor of your low-cost bricks of ramen. Making your soup more slurp-worthy can be accomplished by just adding a few extra ingredients.
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