Mar 31, 2010

Better Than Ramen Almost-Instant Noodles

Don't tell anyone, but I like ramen. I like ramen a lot. The same stuff college kids are supposed to subsist on, except with tofu and bok choy and chilis (and I don't drain the broth — that's the good stuff!). That said, I know there are better ways to make the same thing — and to make it better.

Sooo ... This isn't strictly crafty, but I did make it, and I did NOM it:

Better Than Ramen

And it IS much better than cheap flavoring-packet-type ramen. Om nom nom nom. Why did I wait so long to finally make my own Asian noodle soup? It takes the same amount of time as "normal" ramen and it's uber-better. Want some? Here's how to make your own. It's darn easy. :D The hardest part might be finding the ingredients — if you have a local Asian market, you should be able to find all of them there.

You need:
  • Asian noodles — Whatever kind you want should work; I used Vietnamese wheat noodles, but at some point I'll try it with soba. However much you'd like to eat is the correct amount. ;) I used about 4 oz of noodles, but I'm a bit of a noodle pig.
  • A soup base — Chicken, beef, fish or vegetable bouillon would all work, or you can use something fancier, like miso paste (though actually, you'd have to add the miso paste later in the recipe than I say to below, after the boiling is over, because boiling it kills the flavor quite a bit). I used tom yum (Thai hot and sour soup) paste, because I am obsessed with tom yum. You could also use pre-made stock or broth of whatever kind you favor.
  • Vegetables — I like to use leafy greens, particularly bok choy/joi choi. You could probably use spinach or kale or even watercress. I used joi choi for the noodles in the photo.
  • Tofu (cubed) — or you could use pre-cooked meat or a meaty thing that cooks quickly, like shrimp.
  • A smallish cooking pot with a lid (mine probably holds about four cups of water at best), a bowl, an eating utensil (fork or chop sticks), a stove, and maybe a hot pad to rest the burning hot bowl on. ;)
Make it so:

  1. Put water (or stock/broth) in pot. I use two cups or a little less, which is what fits comfortably in the type of bowl I use; your mileage probably varies. If you're not going to keep the broth, you just need enough to cook the noodles.
  2. Put noodles in pot, and pot on stove. Turn burner on high setting; you want the contents of the pot to reach a boil quickly.
  3. If using a bouillon or soup paste, stir the desired amount into the water. (Yes, before it boils.) If you care to know, I used two big spoonfuls of tom yum paste. Your chosen additive should have directions on the container. Any other seasonings you want to add (salt, pepper, herbs) should go in now.
  4. Put cubed tofu into pot. Cover pot and leave to reach a boil.
  5. In the meantime, prep your veggies. Wash and chop your greens.
  6. If your stove is like mine, the pot will boil probably before you're done washing and chopping. When you can pause in what you're doing, open the lid and stir the pot a bit, making sure everything is evenly distributed in the water so it cooks and seasons evenly. Turn the heat setting down to medium and put the lid back on.
  7. When veggies are ready, throw them into the pot and put the lid back on.
  8. When the veggies are cooked to your liking, your noodle bowl is done. I usually limit the vegetable cooking time to 2-3 minutes so they and the noodles don't get soggy/mushy.
  9. If you're draining the broth off (Noooooo! Well, okay, if you must ... but that is the good stuff...), do it now, and serve. If you're not draining the broth, carefully pour the contents of the pot into your bowl. I usually use the "put the bowl in the (clean) sink and pour quickly while guiding food with fork" method, then move the bowl to the hot pad. You could probably use a spaghetti ladle for the noodles and then a soup ladle for the rest, too.
  10. Eat, enjoy, live, be happy. NOM.
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