by Ian DeHaven and Tyler St.Clair
Ramen noodles. They cook in 2 minutes, can be bought for cheap money, and most importantly, taste good. This “holy trinity” has cemented ramen as a staple for all college students and millenials living on their own.
Everyone basically knows how to make ramen: boil some water, toss in the noodle halves, cook them and then put in the flavoring, simple. What isn’t universal knowledge are these 10 tips to improve the “default” ramen into something just a little bit better for all the aching young souls out there.
Ramen can come to life before the noodles even leave the packet. Instead of opening the bag and simply putting two noodle blocks into your boiling water, take the closed packet under the palms of your hands and mash until the noodle pieces are as a fine as you would like. Crushing the noodles like this will make the finished noodles ultimately shorter, and reduce time spent painstakingly slurping and getting broth everywhere.
Limiting the amount of water in the noodles
Another way to improve ramen is to consciously limit the amount of water you use. Basically, the less water you use, the stronger the flavors will be at the end. More water, weaker flavors. Controlling the amount of water will also change the consistency of the noodles, especially if you opt to reduce water. In that case, the noodles will absorb more flavor and be stickier.
Boiling the water
This step in the ramen-making process is easy enough to do by stove, just cut an eye on and let it boil. If you are perhaps home alone and looking to save as much time as possible, you could microwave your whole dish or use a tea kettle to raise your water to a boil.
Sauces while the noodles are cooking
Flavoring your noodles is not a step that has to be reserved for the end. While they are in the pot boiling, feel free to throw in any variety of sauces such as soy sauce, sriracha, Frank’s Red Hot, or whatever condiment your taste buds could crave. Depending on what you throw in during this step, you can add different notes or levels of complexity to your humble meal.
Adding frozen or fresh cut vegetables in boiling noodles
Ramen flavoring packets typically have some dried green onion pieces included, which is not enough of a vegetable serving to call it a “round meal.” This can be easily countered by putting in frozen or fresh cut vegetables in the mix at any point, but preferably during the boiling stage, especially if frozen. Putting in a little bit of greens such as broccoli, celery, carrots, or whatever else can make this ramen feast a little less guilty when you count the calories.
Simple ramen into an egg-drop soup
This alternate step is an easy way to add addition flavor and body to your soup. Take an egg, crack it into the pot, and begin to stir. At this point, if you want your egg to be “in one place” instead of scrambled, then continue to stir the broth around the yolk as it cooks in the pot. Otherwise, break it, and just mix and go to town.
Control saltiness with the flavor packet
Instead of subtracting/adding water to control the saltiness, you could opt to portion the flavor packet instead. If you don’t want to get a daily serving of sodium in one place, then use only half the packet. If you want it as salty as possible, then you could even cook two packs at once and combine both pouches.
Put in chopped meat to match your flavor
Making a beef flavored ramen? Put in some cooked beef strips. Chicken? You could put white chicken in water in the pot, adding the meat and the extra volume of chicken flavored water into the ramen.
Cheese on top
Cheese is an easy way to add even more “soupiness” to an otherwise watery ramen broth, if that is your taste. It also has the benefit of adding a dairy component to a carb-dominated meal. You can either stir this in during cooking, but this cheese component is best added on top of all the cooked noodles, no stove eye on. Stir in to taste.
Hopefully after following these tips, you have an upgraded bowl of ramen!
This has been “A Bachelor’s Guide,” a new periodic column about how to painlessly save money, time, and effort in a range of things you may have to do as an adult. Thanks for reading.