What’s not to love about instant ramen? It’s cheap, convenient, and comforting. As a penniless college student, I lived on a regular diet of instant ramen for a good part of those years. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t upgrade the flavor, right?
And no, just plopping in an egg doesn’t count as upgraded ramen. We’re talking about upgrading it to the best instant ramen it can be. We’ll give you 9 ramen recipes to help you on what to add to ramen and how to make ramen better. Some of these recipes push it to be almost unrecognizable as a bowl of the instant stuff but a legit meal.
Upgrade Your Ramen Beyond “Instant”
1. Instant Ramen or Instant Yakisoba?
Rather than add to ramen why not transform it? Cook up your instant ramen noodles, drain out the liquid and fry them up. Yup, you heard us right.
Add in vegetables, meat, sauce them up, and you’ve got yourself some instant yakisoba. We love adding in fresh shrimp, chopped cabbage, and bean sprouts to round it all out into a full-on meal but feel free to experiment!
It’s also a great money hack too since yakisoba noodles tend to be more expensive than instant ramen noodles.
2. Chashu It Up!
One of the best things to put in ramen, instant, or not is chashu. We love this chashu recipe from Just One Cookbook and it goes well with rice dishes, noodles, and you can even make some wicked chashu sandwiches!
Also, most of the ingredients in this recipe are fairly common in most kitchens. It may take a bit of effort and time but it’s totally worth it! And if you have some leftover marinade you can use it to make ramen eggs.
3. Faux Pho
Another favorite noodle dish of ours: Pho. But making pho out of instant ramen, is that even possible? With a little bit of prep and the right ingredients on hand, you bet. Serious Eats shows us just how to do so with this hack of an instant ramen recipe.
- You’ll need the usual pho accompaniments such as lime, bean sprouts, basil, mint, and of course, some thinly sliced flank steak.
- Cook your noodles as you normally would but use about half of the flavoring packet.
- Add in your lime, sugar, and a couple teaspoons of fish sauce to round out the flavor of your soup.
- Lastly, add in your flank steak and top with the aforementioned toppings and you’ve got yourself some instant pho.
4. Pad Thai
Authentic pad thai is delicious but a handful to make homemade. Not only that, but overcooking rice noodles is very easy to do if you’re not an expert at working with the stuff. That’s why take out a lot of the work by just using instant ramen noodles instead.
- Cook the ramen noodles and before they’re done, add some shrimp to the pot so everything finishes cooking at the same time.
- Take the pot off the stove and add in 1 beaten egg.
- Drain and move everything to a bowl.
- Mix in half of the flavor packet, fish sauce, lime juice, chopped scallions, and top it all off with some crushed peanuts.
You can also add in a bit of tamarind paste if you like your pad thai on the tangy side. However, the lime juice usually does the trick just fine if you don’t have any at home.
5. Okay, Add an Egg
Yeah, we did say just adding an egg isn’t a way to upgrade ramen but this is no ordinary egg. We’re talking about ramen eggs, also known as ajitsuke tamago. These are delicious toppings to most noodles dishes, especially ramen, so you’d do yourself a favor to learn this easy recipe.
The best part is you only need 4 ingredients: eggs, soy sauce, mirin, and water. The cooking process is just as simple.
- You’ll need to boil your eggs, cool them, and let them sit in the marinade overnight.
- If you like your ramen eggs on the soft side, you can boil them for 6-7 minutes.
- But if you like them a little more firm with a custard-like texture, you can let them boil for 8-9 minutes.
6. Routine (Ramen Poutine)
Yeah, you read that correctly. This is definitely one of the more creative instant ramen recipes we’ve come across but still a good one. There’s an irresistible crunch the toasted ramen noodles give this dish.
And don’t worry if you don’t have cheese curd as traditional poutine calls for, you can just use shredded cheese. What you’ll need to do is get your ramen crisped up by crunching them up and toasting them in some oil until they get golden brown. Top everything off with gravy and cheese and if you’re feeling extra, get that toasted effect by running it in your broiler or toaster oven.
7. Ramepherd’s Pie
Another creative ramen recipe, but don’t knock it until you try it we always say. The use of ramen noodles in place of mashed potatoes creates this unique texture. The top half of the noodles get extremely crispy after being broiled yet the noodles underneath still are tender.
If you want to try this one out, do this:
- Cook your pack of noodles and set aside.
- Next, cook 1/2 pound of ground beef alongside with 1/2 cup of chopped onion.
- Saute it and add a little water and the seasoning packet from your ramen.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes or until it reaches a saucy consistency then add in frozen peas and season with salt and pepper.
- Next, transfer to an oven-safe dish or a cast iron pan and top your beef filling with your ramen noodles.
- Broil in the oven for a few minutes until your ramen noodles get golden brown and crispy.
8. Ramen Salad
Yeah, we thought the same thing, ramen salad? But trust us, the ramen noodles are a welcome crunch to this delicious salad recipe. Tangy, crunchy, sweet is all the flavors this salad embodies.
Pro-tip: If you want to add a little spicy kick to the dressing, add in about a teaspoon of red chili flakes.
9. Ramen Snack-Mix
Why buy snack mix at the store when you can easily make this at home? Especially if you have extra instant ramen lying around. A cinch to make and takes just about 15 minutes to bake, feel free to customize it further with extra ingredients like popcorn or roasted chickpeas.
And there you have it, hopefully, we’ve inspired you on how to make instant ramen better. With a little creativity and some quirky ramen additions, you can turn plain ol’ instant ramen into something extraordinary.
What are some of your favorite instant ramen hack recipes? We’re dying to know! Tell us in the comment section below!
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