I received an unwanted gift for New Years in the form of a cold that, while not debilitating enough to keep me from working, has made some of my more ambitious cooking plans for 2012 less appealing. In addition, apparently New England finally realized it was winter and has bestowed upon us single digit temperatures to match. Yay. It seems like a lot of people are sick and it's frigid everywhere, so maybe some of you are in the same boat as me.
Well I've had ramen on the brain for a while now (more on this theme in later posts: I baked some baking soda last night for those of you who know what that's for)... and soup is of course perfect when you are both cold and sick... but simple package of instant ramen isn't really all that satisfying and certainly isn't blog worthy. Enter Kenji with ramen hacks. A few simple additions can really upgrade those seventy cents of dried noodles into something... if not exactly "gourmet"... that is much better than dorm room fare. Indeed, I wish I had some concept of this when I was rockin' the microfridge in college, as it is really quite easy.
Basically I spiked the water I was going to simmer the noodles in with beef bullion, some dried seaweed, and chili oil. Once that was boiling I threw in a few snap peas and sliced shiitakes with the noodles... and while that was going on I fried up a little sliced bacon in another pan. Three minutes later I stirred in a bit of the seasoning packet (maybe a quarter) and topped with the bacon, some chopped scallions, defrosted frozen peas (just had them sit in hot tap water for a few minutes), and a squirt of sriracha. Pretty good stuff, though in retrospect I like my snap peas a little crunchier and thus should have waited a minute or two to add them into the simmering noodles. I like to avoid using the seasoning packet at all in future ramen hacks, but the broth tasted a little weak without it and I haven't figured out an appropriate spice combination to substitute for it. Suggestions welcome on that front. For my next attempt I will also do an "egg drop" for some more body and maybe scale back the veggies a bit to keep it from being too busy.
Anyway, something to think about when you have some instant ramen in the pantry and some random veggies in the fridge and don't feel like cooking... hard to screw up but tasty. Nobody is going to declare you the next Iron Chef for making it, but there is nothing wrong with simple and satisfying food.