Eats

Upgrade Your Comfort Foods: Spice Up Your Ramen

I’ll be the first to admit it: the super-cheap, bottom-shelf ramen noodles are pretty much the most broke food at your local grocery store. At least at my usual place I can still get the noodle + MSG packet for the low price of $0.10 or 10 for $1. But food that cheap should only be consumed on two occasions: 1. Times of the most extreme broke-ass-itude or 2. Hangovers. The former occasion makes sense, given the low low price, but I like to justify the second because somewhere along the line I got it in my head that the salty soupiness will help hydrate me after a big bender. (Actually, this probably isn’t true at all, consult with a real doctor or your friend in Med School.)

In the meantime, there are a few ways you can literally and figuratively spice up your bowl of salt soup so it actually tastes like something you’re not ashamed to eat.

Pick your starter flavor: As I’m sure you’re aware, these things come with a little “flavor packet” available in a wide variety of salt flavors like “Beef” or “Oriental”. I have no idea if these actually contain any sort of beef stock or real pieces of oriental (whatever that’s supposed to be), so I usually pass on all those and go straight for the Spicy Chili because everyone knows when something isn’t very good, just make it spicier.

Now adding a lot of fixins to your ramen obviously drives the price up slightly, but given the bargain basement starting point I don’t think anyone will protest when the payoff is a much more palatable experience. So here are a few crucial ingredients:

Use broth instead of plain water: I like chicken broth, but veggie broth will do if you shy away from animal flesh. (Although, veggie broth is a made up thing. You know that right?) I usually go 50-50 water to broth ratio.

Because if it doesnt taste good, just make it spicier.

Because if it doesn't taste good, just make it spicier.

Sesame oil and Rooster Sauce: A few drops of sesame oil in the broth makes all the difference and your house will start to smell like a real noodle shop. The sriracha (a.k.a. Rooster sauce) goes right in the broth. I add a ton of the stuff because I really don’t like tasting anything for the rest of the day.

An egg: This might be the best part. Once the broth starts to boil and you throw the noodles in, crack an egg in there and stir it around. It’ll be cooked by the time the noodles are ready and is essential to making this taste like a real meal.

Leftovers: No really, if you’ve got some left over szechuan chicken or something, it’ll actually go pretty nicely in there. Also, the packaging on these things always shows a bunch of veggies and mushrooms thrown in. Has anybody out there actually tried to add asparagus to their ramen noodles with any success?

As with all these weekly broke-ass recipes, the key is basically to find what you’ve got hanging around your kitchen cabinets and turn it into something your mother wouldn’t be too ashamed of. So if you’ve got any more tips, why not go ahead and share with the class?

(images via: A Student Diaries and BlogCritics.org in that order.)

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Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at SFAppeal.com and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at AggressivePanhandler.com. His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.

  • jgodsey

    buy the biggest super cheap box of ramen. and toss the flavor packets..no one needs the salt. make your own broth using shoyu, memmi, pad tai sauce or any bottled soup flavoring. you can adjust the strength and add things like lime juice and sesame oil.

  • c.e.p.

    chopping up scallions and throwing them in there makes such a difference.

  • http://www.aggressivepanhandler.com/ Andrew Dalton – Aggressive Panhandler

    Good call, now I actually have a use for this huge bag of scallions my girlfriend bought.

  • http://frugalzeitgeist.com Forest

    Ha ha,

    Awesome posts…. You know glass noodles are pretty much the same cost as ramen just without the msg pack and a few added spices replace the msg pack pretty well.

    I LOVE the rooster sauce….

  • http://aggressivepanhandler.com/ Andrew

    Yeah! I just discovered glass noodles. Sometimes they’re pricey if you pick them up in a white people store. But I got a big pack for $0.99 in Chinatown that could probably do for a couple good sized bowls of soup.

  • http://www.bamboobabe.com Yvonne

    LOL @Andrew “white people store” LOL made my day!

  • bria

    try adding celery if you dont want it as salty celery absorbs salt msg and lots of the other crap they put in those packets

  • Talea

    Make a burrito. Soften the noodles, chicken, yellow rice, white rice is cool too, broccoli, a potato and some Ranch dressing. Keeps you full for hours. Make a huge one for finals week.