Writing about what feeds me.
This usage of ramen – yes, the overly processed, packaged kind – is ridiculous for many reasons.
It’s ridiculously easy. It’s ridiculously without rhyme or reason; I almost never do it the same way twice.
I do it way too often. And honestly, I should probably just stop wasting instant ramen packages and grab some actual dry rice noodles from 99 Ranch. Problem is I never remember to and the instant stuff is almost always on hand at my/everyone’s house!
Here’s what you need, or don’t need. Depends on how you look at it.
But this is how I’ve been doing it lately…
– vegetable oil
– sesame oil (optional, but then again, almost everything is optional – ha!)
– 1-2 packages of ramen (or dried rice or egg noodle)
– approx. 1 cup onion, chopped
– 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
– ginger, minced or thinly slivered
– any leftover vegetables; my ideal staples or ones I tend to find forgotten and abandoned in my fridge: carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, bean sprouts, chinese greens, etc.
– any leftover herbs for garnish and added flavor: green onion, cilantro, mint, etc.
– any leftover, cooked meat; if I don’t have any I usually just omit
– soy sauce
– chili paste or anything of that nature for spice factor (optional)
Here’s what I do. But, you can do this in almost any order you like.
Or you can ignore almost every step.
– Boil some water (enough to submerge the noodles)
– While the water is on the stove, clean and chop your veggies, starting with the onion, garlic and ginger. For faster cooking, keep some ginger-garlic paste on hand and use about a teaspoon or more, depending on how you like it.
The rule of thumb for the vegetables, for me, is cut them bite-size or how you like to eat it. Cut them too small and it may be harder to mix together and will cook very fast. Cut too big and you’ll have the opposite effect. I like my carrots shredded and everything else on the thinner side.
– When the water comes to a boil, add the packaged ramen.
** Discard the season packet, or don’t. If you’re lazy or don’t want to bother with the soy sauce and other seasons, the best shortcut – albeit not the healthiest in terms of sodium and MSG – is to just mix in about half to 3/4 of the season packet. Use it all and it might be way too salty. Remember, less is more and you can always add, but never take away.
– Using a chopstick or something made of wood, loosen up the ramen as it softens. As soon as the noodles begin to fully separate, take off the heat, strain, but keep a little of the remaining stock, just in case.
– Put the empty pot back on the stove, add about a tablespoon each of vegetable and sesame oil (if using), and heat on med-high.
– Lightly brown the onions in the oil, about 3-5 minutes.
– Toss in and stir the garlic and ginger, about a minute or two, but be sure not to let it burn. Turn down the heat a little whenever necessary.
– At the point you may also want to add the chili sauce or any other random spice mixture you find hidden and neglected in the side door of your fridge.
– Begin adding the vegetables, starting with the tougher ones that take longer to cook. Keep in mind the size of your pieces.
– Splash in some soy sauce to your liking or sprinkle in the seasoning packet like the lazy bum that you are. =)
– Add the pre-cooked leftover meat to heat it up.
– Throw in the noodles and mix. Add some of the leftover broth if it approaches burn status.
Haha – actually, add the broth way before that happens, i.e. if you think it’s too dry.
– Season more as needed. A little bit of sugar often helps here if none of the seasonings you’ve used thus far have any already.
– Just before you turn off the heat, toss in the cilantro and/or green onions.
– Drizzle a little more sesame oil all over, if you like.
– Serve it hot in a bowl with a bottle of Sriracha on the side!
This “recipe” is all about FREESTYLE, but also understanding that it doesn’t take much to make plain noodles pretty un-plain. Basically, it’s 1) Blanche noodles 2) Cook onions, garlic, and ginger 3) Soften veggies/heat pre-cooked protein 4) Add noodles 5) Season & garnish. Can’t get much easier than that. Salt, sugar and spice – experiment and learn how the flavors balance. How do you like it? Make some for someone else (use up to 3 bags of ramen) and get their approval or suggestions.
Learn to use leftover EVERYTHING. Feelin’ Korean and got some kimchi hangin’ out in the back of the fridge? Throw it in! If you’re Filipino or Thai or you just like things tart, squeeze some lemon or lime on top. When I lived in LA and couldn’t eat all of my BBQ mix combo from L&L’s, I would save whatever meat I had leftover AND the bed of cabbage that filled the bottom of the styrofoam. Once I got home… you guessed it – STYROFOAM RAMEN!
hahahah… no, really.
Oh, yeah. I pretty much use this same method to do leftover stir-fried RICE, too. BAM!!!