Ramen Hacks: 9 More Ways To Upgrade Your Instant Noodles
We like to think that we take our ramen seriously here at Serious Eats. We like to think that, but the fact of the matter is, our past performance has painted a decidedly more nuanced picture. Sure, we've written about everything from where to find the best ramen in New York to how to make a vegan ramen broth worthy of slurping, but we've also showed you how to transform your ramen into a shepherd's pie, along with over 30 other quick upgrades to your instant noodles.
Today we're dusting off our membership cards to the newly expanded Ramen Transmogrification Society of the Greater Universe (any other members of the RTSGU out there?), and embracing the ridiculous, the silly, the downright stupid. The following recipes are completely, entirely, and utterly bereft of any significant cultural, culinary, or intellectual value, and, well, I'm sort of OK with that. Never in his wildest imagination did the younger me think he'd one day be making a living out of stuffing tortillas with noodles and photographing them, but, well, here we are, thanks to the fickle whims of the internet.
But for now, let's just have some fun, ok?
(P.S. Click on any image for a closer look!)
The Ramen Burger
We didn't invent it, we didn't perfect it, heck, we don't even necessarily approve of it, but if Ramen Burgers are here to stay (at least temporarily) we might as well make 'em at home so that we can at least trick ourselves into believing that we have some remnants of self-respect and control, right?
Our noodle "buns" are made with no egg or other binder to get in the way of their intense rameniness, and while we generally prefer nothing but salt and pepper on our burger patties, in this case we've gone full ramen and used the soup base packet to season our patty.
A wiser man than I once said, "Never go full ramen." Perhaps I should have listened.
The first law of pizzadynamics states that "any comestible enrobed in the pulverized fruiting body of the Solanum lycopersicum and the coagulated proteins and fat excreted by the mammary glands of Bos primigenius and thusly exposed to a thermal energy system powerful enough to instigate the early stages of the Maillard reaction shall be declared as delicious."
In layman's terms, it basically states that "pizza, in all its forms, is good s%&t."
We're testing the upper bounds of that theorem with this cast iron skillet-baked monstrosity, the Ramen Crust Pizza. Ramen noodles get laid down in a bed of olive oil in a hot skillet before being topped with cheese, sauce, more cheese, and toppings. 20 minutes in the oven and you end up with a browned, crisp crust, and a middle layer of noodles that have soaked up sauce and cheese.
It looks like pizza, it tastes like pizza, but it's got all the caloric benefits of instant ramen. Win win!
Who doesn't think that American cheese can't help but not make everything taste better? I see some of you raising your hands. The rest of you must have just been confused by my poor choice of wording, but I'm glad you're coming along with me on this one, because, well, you and the noodles are about all I've got.
Here we've got the infamous Kim-Cheese Ramen bowl, made by stirring chopped kimchi (with its juices, please!) into a bowl of noodles along with a slice of American cheese and a little knob of butter. The three-way lovechild of a bowl of ramen, a bowl of kimchi jjigae, and some mac and cheese, it's got all the best qualities of each.
It's hot proof-in-a-bowl that mixed races are always the best looking.
Want to make it even easier? Just start with hot and spicy Korean-style Shin Cup and just add cheese.
Ramen Snack Mix
Everybody knows the classic ramen snack mix, right? The one where you crunch up the noodles, pour on the dry seasoning packet, shake, and consume? Well here's a bit of an upgrade to the same concept.
We're taking those same noodles, breaking them into bite-sized chunks, then tossing them with bagel bites, shrimp chips, and mixed nuts. To flavor? I cook up the seasoning packet in a tablespoon of butter and a couple teaspoons of Worcestershire before tossing everything together, placing it on a tray, and throwing it in a low oven to dry out.
The resulting Ramen Snack Mix is elegant enough to take with you on your next black tie hiking trip, or casual enough to fuel your next Mario Kart rampage.
As if our pants weren't already fancy enough, now we're getting into true white linen territory, the kind of ramen meal where you'll find out that your all-purpose, all-situation flip-flops are not quite as all-purpose or all-situation as you initially thought.
As with many good things, this Ramen Carbonara (Carbonaramen?) starts with bacon cooked crisp. To that pan we add our cooked ramen noodles, a bit of their cooking water, half of a seasoning packet, an egg beaten with Parmesan cheese, and plenty of black pepper. The trick here is to stir, stir, stir as fast as you can so that the egg forms a creamy, emulsified sauce. Plate it all up with some chopped herbs, and if you want to go extra high-end, throw a raw egg yolk on top of there to mix in as you eat.
This one is so obvious and so obviously delicious that I'm shocked that the internet and the social media boards aren't packed with Ramen Latkes. Instead of shredding up potatoes for your latkes, why not use ramen noodles instead? They're just as starchy, a little fattier, and as an added bonus, have almost none of the nutrients that potatoes do!
They're exceedingly simple to make: just cook up a packet of ramen noodles, roughly tear or chop them, then stir them together with half of a finely sliced or grated onion, a tablespoon of flour, and an egg. Season it all well (with the soup packet, if you'd like), then fry up the mixture in a hot skillet. Oil is the most common and culturally significant fat for frying latkes, but as a gentile, I prefer to go with a bit (ok, a lot) of butter instead.
Want to get extra fancy? Break out the caviar and the crème fraîche; there's no better vehicle for them out there.
Ramen. The other white starch.
Remember those Ramen Tacos we threw at you a couple years ago? Well these Ramenchiladas are their saucier, classier, cheesier cousin. Also, I really wanted to use that particular portmanteau.
We start with a basic Salsa Verde, which we thin out with a bit of chicken stock, then use that to moisten up some cooked ramen noodles, tossing it all together with some grated Jack cheese. The mixture gets stuffed into softened corn tortillas, which are then piled into a sauced cast iron skillet with more sauce and cheese on top.
Bake it all off until crisp and bubbly and you've got yourself one heck of a fusion party in the making.
Ramen Spanish Tortilla
If you can make it out of salt and vinegar potato chips, you can make it out of ramen.
One of the surprise winners in this recipes testing, a Ramen Spanish Tortilla is not only surprisingly delicious, it's also surprisingly easy to make—far easier than its potatoey cousin.
Start—as expected—by cooking off a packet of ramen noodles about 3/4 of the way done, then transferring them to a large bowl along with a half dozen beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper (or use the soup mix packet). While those noodles cook, fry up a thinly sliced onion in extra-virgin olive oil until soft, then stir it (and the oil) into the egg/noodle mixture.
Next, heat up some more extra virgin olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick or cast iron skillet (about a quarter cup—be generous!) over medium heat until shimmering, then slide in the egg/ramen mixture, spread it into an even layer, and let it fry until browned on the bottom. Place an inverted plate over the top, carefully flip the whole thing (do NOT do this over your nice carpet or when small creatures are under foot), and slide it back into the skillet to cook the second side.
Slide it out, cut it up, and consume. You will feel like your meal must have been consecrated by the noodly appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster himself.
Ramen-Crusted Fried Chicken
This divine piece of fried noodliness comes from the half-baked noodle of Luke Davin, our Serious Eats kitchen intern and ramen-fiend extraordinaire.
The concept for Ramen-Crusted Fried Chicken is simple: brine chicken in a solution of buttermilk and ramen seasoning, bread it with crunched up ramen noodles, then deep fry it until crisp and juicy. The execution is a bit more complex an it took us more than a few tries to get it right, but the end results are worth it.
Hungry for more?
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.