Adapting Instant Ramen into a Better Lunch

Adapting Instant Ramen into a Better Lunch

I dislike the need to call every clever (or not-so-clever) trick or idea a “hack” as a tired cliché. But I did have an idea for how to spice up my lunch with something fun.

It starts with instant ramen, but not just any cheap 50¢ ramen package. I prefer the Nongshim Shin Ramyun spicy noodle soup even when I’m just making regular instant soup, because the texture of the noodles when cooked are firmer and the spices are much less salty.

My dish starts by cooking the noodles with water (follow the instructions or just fill the bowl to cover the dry noodles; the exact amount isn’t important) in the microwave on high for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, I put the contents of the spice packet in a bowl and add in a tablespoon or so of taberu rayu (a Japanese chili oil with crunchy roasted garlic in it1), some sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Amounts aren’t vital, but a thick paste is the goal.

In a sauté pan, I stir fried some mushrooms, celery, bell pepper, onion and tofu. When the noodles were cooked, I drained them and added them to the vegetables in the pan and then added the sauce, mixing it all together. I plated it and added some green onion on top and it was delicious! It was spicy, but also a tiny bit sweet and packed full of umami. I tried to see if I could do anything with the leftover noodle water by adding some hot sauce to it, but it was just flat and not good. I didn’t expect it to be anything, but nothing ventured…

In any case, I like my little “hack” and while it’s not quite as quick as just making instant ramen, it’s a nice break for a hot lunch and because it’s vegetarian, it will be perfect for meat-free Fridays.


  1. It’s pretty awesome and goes great on everything. I like to put it on white rice.
Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
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