Five Quick Hacks: Improving Instant Ramen
I enjoy instant ramen. For as long as I can remember, I have been making instant noodles. My parents always kept cans of Maruchan instant ramen in the pantry, and I learned to make it at a very young age.
Without any changes, the traditional package of fried noodles with a dusting of flavor is incredibly affordable and very good. But over time, I’ve discovered a few tricks that have improved my noodle-slurping experience, like what to put in instant ramen.
1. Experiment with various instant ramen products.
Today, various types of instant ramen can be seen lining the shelves in the soup section of any supermarket. In the past year alone, my local grocery store has added a number of additional options.
Although these packs can cost a little more than basic instant noodle blocks, they are still very affordable and usually cost less than a few dollars.
For more choices in instant noodles, I also suggest visiting your nearest Asian grocery store. For the past year, I have been visiting my local H-Mart regularly. I’ve found many types of instant ramen there that I like, and I haven’t even begun to sample the entire selection.
The noodles in these deluxe instant ramen noodles have a better texture, and each dish usually contains several flavor packets. Packs of extra flavor give your standard bowl of instant noodles a rich, complex flavor.
Instant ramen packs with fresh noodles that up my instant soup game can be found at H-mart. At about $3 per serving, those are undoubtedly the most expensive, but well worth it for the best noodle taste.
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Start with Stock
One of the quickest ramen hacks is to use stock instead of water. You can’t highlight the rich mouthfeel of the handmade stock that provides soups of all kinds, even instant ramen. I’ve been making Instant Pot stock every year for the past year and even filmed a video about it.
Use a high-quality box of store-bought stock or bone broth if this is a big step for you. Use the kind with reduced or no sodium content, as the flavor packets provided in instant ramen include all the salt you need. I’ve found that with the best broth, I can only use half of the high-sodium spice packets, and my heart appreciates them!
What can be added to instant ramen? Very Sweet Stuff!
The only ingredients in an instant ramen package are noodles and broth. Ramen can be made heartier, however, by adding various ingredients. What can I put in ramen? To make a quick soup feel like a meal, I prefer to add protein-rich mix-ins.
I also love frozen fish balls, which I always have on hand and can be found at my local Asian grocery store. Wontons are another freezer treasure that I enjoy adding to my ramen. When I get these, I always buy a bag to put in my ramen.
We smoke a lot of meat in our Big Green Egg in the summer, and freeze the leftovers in small zip-top containers. These leftovers are delicious additions to ramen. I love that the smokiness of BBQed meat gives the broth character.
Add the remaining chicken if there is nothing else. Alternatively, you can cut raw bacon into 2-3 inch long pieces and add them to your broth at the end of the boil; they won’t need much time to cook.
Scallions are a non-meat ingredient that I like to add when my broth starts to boil. In particular, I like to season the broth using the heartier scallion pieces at the end while saving the green ends for garnish—oh wait, this is symbolic!
Things to Add to Instant Ramen: Addition Ideas for Hearty Ramen
- Frozen meatballs
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Leftover BBQ meat
- Fish balls/fish cakes
- Thinly sliced bacon
- Thinly sliced beef or pork belly
- You are spam
- Sliced mushrooms
- Dehydrated wakame seaweed
- Chopped Bok choy
Add to The Seasoning Pack
The flavor doesn’t have to stop with the stock and your spice packet. With a few condiments that I always have on hand, I like to expand my flavor pack. Give one of these additions a shot.
For a nutty flavor and rich mouthfeel in your instant ramen broth, add sesame paste or peanut butter. Alternatively, you can add miso to your broth to create miso ramen soup. Add gochujang to give the dish a Korean flavor.
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Additionally, I enjoy my mom adding dashi powder to the dish. Just remember to wait to add the seasoning packet until you taste the soup if you decide to add more sodium-heavy alternatives. Spices 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 ways to do this.
Things to Add to Instant Ramen: Ideas for Seasonal Ramen Additions
- miso unama
- Sesame dough
- peanut butter
- Instant dashi granules
- Chinese hot oil
Add Tasty Garnishes On Top.
The tasty ingredients are the last step in a soup-filled instant ramen dish. I used to crack an egg when I was a kid and sprinkle it into the boiling broth to make it like egg drop soup. I prefer a jammy egg on top these days.
I cook my eggs in a pressure cooker with a cup of water on high pressure for 5 minutes to achieve a perfect egg.
I also enjoy eating chopped cilantro, nori squares, and green pieces of my scallions.
Things to Add to Instant Ramen: Ideas for Ramen Garnish Add-Ins
Bonus Tip: Buy a Container
Get yourself a good ramen dish with sticks as a last resort. Even if your noodles cost just a few cents, having the right serving ware helps you feel like you’re at a real ramen restaurant.
At H-Mart, I picked up some inexpensive, attractive, and deep bowls. And today I offer various noodle-based recipes for these dishes!
I hope my quick hacks will inspire you to improve the flavor of your inexpensive ramen bricks. Making your soup more nutritious can be done by adding a few extra ingredients.
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