Nine ways to spice up traditional ramen noodles

By Eleine Fang

Andrea Rota/Flickr

Ramen noodles are a staple for college students on a budget, either as a midnight snack or an instant meal. A much cheaper alternative to ordering Wings or DP Dough, these favorite noodles often come in multi-packs and are sold for as little as 45 cents per noodle package.  Ramen appears to be the deal of a lifetime, but rotating between chicken and mushroom flavor every night of the week can get redundant. Here are nine ways to add some excitement to your ramen meals.

Get Saucy

Sauces are a great way to – quite literally – spice up any frequented dish. Depending on taste preference, add condiments such as Miso paste, chili bean sauce or even a squirt of lemon. Combining these extra ingredients requires no extra cooking, which is a great bonus. Just prepare the ramen normally and add any sauce of choice to the finished product. Voilà – a whole new dish.

Go Green

Ramen isn’t the healthiest food out there, sometimes containing over 1000mg of sodium per serving. These sneaky noodle manufacturers often add Monosodium glutamate (MSG) to make the salty specialty even more addicting. In the case of a sodium overload, vegetables can be added even if not to add any health benefits, but to at least give indulgers the illusion of healthy eating. Spinach, scallions and bean sprouts cook quickly and easily for students in a rush. Enoki mushrooms could pair perfectly with the mushroom-flavored variety, although they take a little longer to cook.  Add desired vegetables to the soup right before eating for a fresh and fast variation of the old bore!

Breakfast noodles

If vegetables don’t seem appealing, eggs are also a tasty and healthy supplement to include. Since ramen doesn’t contain much nutritional value, eggs will add protein to the otherwise sodium-overloaded meal. After cooking the noodles halfway, crack an egg into the mixture and let the mixture cook completely. The egg should come out nice and chewy.

Stir-fry

If a pan or an oven is readily available, stir frying the noodles makes for a satisfying meal. After boiling the noodles, add them to an oiled pan on high heat and stir occasionally. Once the noodles are crispy, pour them onto a plate and add the seasoning packet. Try Mi Goreng – an Indonesian ramen brand, as it is commonly used for this recipe.

Ramen McDonald

Sumo Ramen restaurant in Montreal, Canada offers a fried chicken nugget ramen entree. This interesting combination pairs thickened ramen noodles with fried chicken nuggets, scallions, Enoki mushrooms and onions. It’s an essentially simple mix of American and Asian cuisine that can be made in any dorm room, apartment or home. Purchase Tyson’s Breaded Chicken nuggets, ramen noodles, vegetable of choice with a bit of wok oil, Sriracha and black pepper. Mix various ingredients together and enjoy yet another ramen dish!

Add caramel

The website mattfischer.com is an entire domain dedicated to ramen noodle cooking and recipes. Simple Caramel Ramen strides away from excess sodium but requires a bit more preparation. After preheating the oven to 300 degrees, mix butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a pot on medium heat. Stir ingredients until they start to bubble and thicken. Remove from heat and pour crushed, uncooked ramen into the mixture. Spread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for four minutes. Cool in freezer for five minutes, then serve.

Ramen salad

Looking for some Mediterranean flavor? Try a Greek Ramen Salad. Sprinkle feta cheese, red peppers, onions, black and green olives, tomatoes, citrus juice and a pinch of salt and pepper to strained ramen for a salad from the old country. For more thorough guidelines, go to Ramenlicious.com for the full recipe to this meal.

Pesto ramen

For students in need of mom’s homemade pasta, try Pesto Ramen. Simply mix cooked ramen and any store-bought pesto sauce together. Have friends bring more complex and expensive entrees, and then feast while pretending it’s just like any other family get-together.

Jell-o noodles

This recipe is only for ramen fans with an adventuresome palette. Also from ramenlicious.com, Jell-o ramen is an interesting concoction of a well-known dessert and a famous insta-food. After cooking the ramen in a pan, add it to a Jell-o mix and refrigerate. The noodles get a bit soggy after spending time chilling in Jell-o, but hey – this dish is only for the daring!

These untraditional ways to consume ramen may be unorthodox, but they are certainly  a way to spice up the boring noodle dish.

Eleine Fang can be reached at [email protected].