Monday, January 19, 2009

Ramen - it's not just for starving college students

It's also for starving adults living like college students! I just cleaned out our bathroom today. Unlike my college days, I have a little Roomba helping to pick up all the dust and hairballs on the floor. Like my college days, the bathroom was disgusting. I won't get into the particulars of what was crusted around the sink, how hard I had to scrub the toilet, and just what was that on the mirror? This is a food blog; I want to inspire hunger and creativity! So even though I'm trying to live my life like an adult, I do still occasionally eat like I'm in college. I love ramen noodles - both the OG Japanese miso or shoyu variety and the fake stuff that comes in cellophane packages. I don't love them the same (come on, give me some credit) but each has their place in my life. Also, ramen houses are hard enough to find in the US. I'm not ready for the disappointment of not finding it in Oslo; I'm still holding onto hope. In lieu of having fresh ramen noodles in steamy, fragrant broth, I make the instant noodles I find here.

Sometimes on a weeknight when we're too busy for a real, 100% homemade meal, I cheat. I make instant noodles. Now before you chide me, or disregard the merit of this blog, let me reassure you that I cannot just serve us a bowl of noodles in MSG broth. I do like my mom does - I add stuff (Happy birthday, Mom!) It's ramen for grown-ups! In this instance, I added sliced chicken breasts and boiled some bok choy to make it a bit more well-rounded. It's all in the and learn.

Ramen for grown-ups
(this recipe serves one, but can easily be scaled up to serve many more - just use more ramen)
1 package of your favorite ramen (if you want more "authentic" skip the Maruchan or the Cup o'Noodles and go for something with an Asian writing on it)
A generous handful of bok choy - cleaned, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces.
1 cooked chicken breast cut into bite sized slices. I used a rotisserie I bought at the store.
1 1/2 cups of water (Use more water if you want the broth more mild, use less water if you want a stronger taste)

Place the water into a small pot and add the flavor packets included with the ramen. Bring the water to a boil. Now listen to me: follow my directions just as I say it. This is not a time to use your brain - really, borrow mine. Boil first the noodles. Cook the noodles to your preferred doneness - like my pasta, I prefer my ramen noodles to be al dente, or slightly chewy and underdone. Once the noodles are done, use tongs or chop sticks to lift the noodles out of the water and place it into your bowl. To the pot of boiling, flavored water add the vegetables and cook the vegetables to your preferred doneness. I also like my vegetables al dente. When the vegetables are done, lift those out of the flavored water and arrange it on top of the noodles. Arrange your meat on top of the noodles. If you are using raw meat, you can also boil the meat in the noodle broth and then arrange it on top of the noodles. Ladle the hot broth over the noodles, vegetables and meat. Add a squirt of Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce for a little bit more heat. When you're eating your ramen, it's only polite to slurp up the noodles as loudly as you can. No joke.


Protein - I have personally tried this with ham, beef slices, chicken slices, scallops, and shrimp. All very good. Just remember to cook the raw stuff.

Vegetables - You can use any vegetable you find on hand. Sprouts, spinach, broccoli, gai-lan, carrots, turnips, peas (though they might be hard with chopsticks), snow peas, and rucola. Really - ANY vegetable.

Don't want to use the MSG-laden flavor packets? Sub out the water with chicken, beef, seafood, or vegetable broth.

Don't want to use the deep fried noodle pellets from the package? Use fresh egg noodles or dried egg or rice noodles.

You have no excuse not to try this for quick dinner.

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