When I say 'Ramen Noodles", what do you think of?
Did you think of this?
Ramen noodles is the 'national food' of Japan. It's healthy, and delicious.
Ramen noodles is THE fast food of Asia. If you ever visit Tokyo, you will see very busy noodle shops and stalls. On some busy streets, you might see markets where people sit down on a chair at a sushi-bar like table, put down money, then someone takes the money and puts a noodle bowl in front of them. There's no hostess to seat you, and no ordering. Just sit down, pay and eat.
So what if you want a chicken noodle bowl instead of a beef bowl? You go to a different vendor, but it's the same deal. Sit down, pay, and a bowl is handed to you.
There's no spoon! Pick up the bowl and drink it. This might seems weird for westerner because it's usually considered rude. It's acceptable in Asia. You can even slurp. (Mom doesn't need to know.) The only thing that is considered rude is not eating/drinking the entire bowl. It's probably a throwback to wartime when food was scarce, but it persists in modern Asian manners.
When I was in the Tokyo airport, I stopped at one of the noodle bars for lunch. They had plastic replicas of the food they served in a glass counter next to the register. I didn't speak any Japanese, and the cashier didn't speak any English. I just pointed at the bowl of eerily realistic replica of udon noodles with an egg in it. She nodded her head, punched it into the register and I handed her my money. In 2 minutes, I had my udon with egg noodle lunch.
If the only ramen noodle you've ever had is the one pictured above, you're really missing out. It's the broth that makes or breaks a bowl of ramen/udon noodle soup. The competition is so fierce among noodle restaurants, that their broth recipes are jealously guarded, handed down only to family members. Many of these broth recipes are generations of years old.
While I can't give you an authentic ramen noodle soup recipe, (because no one will give me a recipe either - sniff) I can say you can make way tastier noodle soups than a package of Top Ramen and the 'flavoring packet' (which is really just a ton of salt).
Here's how to make a tasty lunch with a regular package of ramen noodles. In my case, I'm starting with an udon noodle soup bowl.
1) Open up the package of noodles. Immediately throw away any 'flavoring packets' or 'soup base'. They are just full of sodium and mystery powders that sound like chemistry experiments.
2) Cut up some veggies you like. I like onions, zucchini, and carrots. I sauted them inside my saucepan.
3) Use chicken or beef broth instead of water. Once veggies are heated and slightly softened, I added 3 cups of chicken broth. Liquid mixture is brought to a full boil.
4) Once water is boiling, I crack an egg and drop it in. The egg is now poaching inside the broth mixture.
5) I poured boiling water from my tea kettle over the noodles inside the bowl. It is soaked for about 2 minutes, then water is drained.
6) After the egg is poached to desired doneness, the whole mixture is poured over the noodles in the bowl. I let it soak for about 1 minute more. I squeeze a lemon wedge over the soup - it gives it a wonderful lemon zesty 'brightness' to the soup. Just don't use too much.
7) Noodles are topped with Korean kimchee. Boiling water from the kettle makes a cup of green tea.
Here's my healthy, delicious lunch.
Yes, that really did come out of the prepackaged noodle soup bowls!
I finish it off with just a little splash of soy sauce.
This works great with a package of Top Ramen too. It doesn't have to just be for poor college students. It can be a wonderful base to a healthy asian style lunch.