Sunday, March 8, 2015

5 Slurp-Worthy Kosher Ramen Hacks

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You might have guessed that I haven’t been a college student for some time now.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still addicted to one of the staples of college-student life.  I don’t feed it to my family, but when I’m looking to treat myself, one of my favourite indulgences is… ramen noodles.

You can find all sorts of articles online about how ramen is the perfect college food because it’s something like 20 cents a packet.  That’s not quite true if you’re cooking kosher.  Kosher ramen has always been a little more of a luxury; I don’t think we ever found it for less than $1.99 in Toronto. 

Here in Israel, it’s about 4nis (about $1), though it’s sometimes on sale for less (like 5 for 10nis).

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These aren’t recipes, more like suggestions.  The key is to not try to do too much at any one time.  Too many flavours will only clash with each other; choose two or three distinctive notes that will work well in harmony.  Here are some flavour notes that might inspire you as much as they have inspired me:

  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Soy sauce (the good stuff)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Miso (I like white)
  • Mirin (Asian cooking wine)
  • frozen mixed Asian vegetables
  • frozen peas / carrots / corn
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Sriracha (asian chili sauce)
  • Eggs
  • Firm tofu (I like to fry it with a little soy sauce before adding to soup to help it keep it shape & texture)

Play around with it yourself and I’m sure you’ll find a combination that works beautifully for you.  Feel free to share your own favourite ramen hacks in the Comments!

1.  Asian ramen pancakes

  • Cook ramen completely according to package directions.
  • Mix in bowl with frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, whatever you like)
  • Slice & add green onions, to taste.
  • When slightly cooled, add 2 eggs and mix well.
  • Cook like pancakes in a skillet until browned on both sides.
  • Serve with soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or mix equal parts soy and lemon juice for a tangy ponzu-type Asian sauce.

2.  Peanut-butter ramen soup

  • Bring cooking water to a boil with a sprinkling of mixed frozen vegetables.
  • Add ramen & cook completely according to package directions, using only half the seasoning packet.
  • Remove half the cooking water and mix with:  peanut butter, sriracha, soy, a little brown sugar (to taste).
  • Mix peanut butter mixture until smooth.
  • Turn off stovetop and add peanut butter mixture, mixing until completely smooth.

3.  Broccoli salad with ramen

  • Do not cook ramen!  Crumble ramen into dry (ungreased) skillet over low-medium heat. (Discard or save seasoning packet; you won’t need it for this.)
  • Stir occasionally until ramen is toasted and remove from skillet.
  • Sprinkle white sesame seeds into dry skillet and brown until toasted, then remove from skillet.
  • In steamer or in microwave, steam broccoli florets just until stems are tender.
  • When ramen & sesame seeds are cool, store in baggie.
  • Toss broccoli florets with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and just a bit of white sugar.
  • Store in fridge until serving.
  • Just before serving, remove from fridge and toss with toasted ramen and sesame seeds.

4.  Spicy coconut ramen soup

  • Bring 1 cup of coconut milk & 1 cup of water to a boil with a sprinkling of mixed frozen vegetables.
  • Add ramen & cook completely according to package directions, using only half the seasoning packet.
  • Add fresh ginger (or frozen cubes of grated ginger), garlic and a little bit of sriracha sauce.
  • Add soy sauce to taste.
  • Garnish with toasted sesame oil before serving.

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5.  Ramen soup with eggs

  • Prepare any of the three soups above according to your preference.
  • Crack an egg or two into it (for kashrus reasons, check each egg in a glass separately first).
  • You have three choices for what to do with the egg(s):
    • Egg drop effect:  gently stir the egg until it’s set into delicate egg-drop “strands”
    • Poached:  leave the egg whole to poach it.  It won’t be as neat as a regular poached egg, but the noodles should keep it from spreading out too much.
    • Soft-boiled:  this is my favourite!  Poach the egg but stop the cooking while the centre is just a little liquidy.  Pop the yolk before you eat it and mix in the beautiful yellow yolk with the noodles to thicken and add flavour to your soup.

I’ll be honest:  ramen is not health food, by any means.  It’s probably very, very unhealthy.  In order to get those noodles to stay perfectly poised in their package, they have to be deep-fried in oil.  So make it an occasional (very occasional) indulgence, not a regular treat.

And if it’s going to be an indulgence, then what better way to spoil yourself than by making it taste just perfect?  In other words… why settle for ordinary out-of-the-package ramen when you could treat yourself with an out-of-this-world, slurp-worthy, lip-smacking noodle delight?

Hope I’ve inspired you.  Let me know what your ramen flavour indulgences are in the comments!

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

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