Last year, I was looking for articles to add to The Ramen Rater Noodle News, a monthly post with articles from around the globe pertaining to instant noodles. I found an article about a recent college graduate in California named Chris Johnson that immediately caught my eye. Johnson invented a simple tool called the Rapid Ramen Cooker that cooks instant noodles in the microwave in 3-4 minutes—nearly half the time of most instant ramens, which involve boiling the water and cooking the noodles separately.
Johnson told me how he has always enjoyed instant noodles, but the amount of time it took to cook just wasn't instant enough for him. Unfortunately, options for cooking instant noodles in the microwave were limited. "I wanted to create a bowl that made perfect ramen noodles in the microwave every time," he said. "And that's what I did."
Johnson tested over 200 packs of instant noodles before reaching his goal. "There are lots of square bowls on the market, but none are specifically engineered to cook the ramen perfectly in the microwave," he says. "Many of the bowls are too big and heat excess water, leaving the ramen pasty and unevenly cooked. I went through a lot of testing to achieve the measurements of my 'reservoir' design," he explains.
An added bonus is that the Rapid Ramen Cooker helps cut the sodium in most instant noodles: "The Cooker only requires half the normal amount of water, therefore you only need half the seasoning packet," Johnson explains.
Johnson hasn't tested the cooker with non-domestic varieties, like round South Korean ramyun or perhaps Indonesian Mi Goreng, so I set out to give his invention a try with a number of domestic and foreign instant noodles. Here are the results:
- Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Oriental Flavor: Came out perfect! A little spillage on the handles but nothing too bad. Noodles are great and half the seasoning packet is ample.
- Nissin Top Ramen Chicken Flavor: Another winner. Added some kamaboko at 3 minutes and 30 seconds and microwaved for 30 more seconds. Noodles came out perfect, half pack seasoning was enough, and kamaboko was decently cooked.
- Maruchan Ramen Noodle Soup Shrimp Flavor: Again, perfect output.
- Nissin Demae Ramen Prawn Flavor: This noodle block is a little more dense than Top Ramen. Still, noodles come out nice and tender. My son asked if we could use the cooker for his noodles this way more often; he doesn't like broth all that much and the lack of it here is a plus for him.
- Nongshim Jinjja Jinjja Flamin' Hot & Nutty Noodles: This is a round noodle block. At the outset, it didn't fit in the cooker and needed to be broken up first. The noodles came out very nicely, but they did soak up all of the water as well. Adding half the seasoning, all of the vegetable packet, and the 'nutty' packet went quite well, although one third of seasoning would have been ample here. Better-than-expected results!
- Paldo Namja Ramen: This is another South Korean ramyun. However instead of the round block like Nognshim Jinjja, this is a large square block. Again, the block didn't fit, but with a little force and modification, I managed to get it in there. The noodles came out quite nicely, though again they drank up all of the liquid. As with the Jinjja, half a seasoning packet seems to be too much and a third would suffice.
- Doll Chicken: Perfect noodles. Half of packet was fine and wasn't too hard to disperse half of the oil packet.
- Sapporo Ichiban Japanese Style Noodles Chow Mein: The noodles came out just right. The package says to let all of the water absorb into the noodles. There was a bit of liquid left, but I found just using a fork and tilting the bowl in the sink worked as a drain in a pinch. Also note that since this is a brothless variety, I used the whole seasoning packet. Excellent results.
- Indomie Mi Goreng Satay: I added slightly less water to this one to see if it would soak up all the liquid. To my delight, it did just that. All the liquid was absorbed into the noodles quite happily. This was really great—definitely the fastest Mi Goreng I've ever made, and probably also the least messy!
I was very happy with the results and fully endorse this little invention. It does exactly what it says it will do, every time.