When I was a kid, I used to think the world of ramen was strictly chicken or beef-flavored noodles. Ramen was one of my favorite meals growing up, and it still is today. The difference is that I've had the experience of eating all the types of ramen available, from instant to homemade, and an array of different flavors. While homemade ramen is certainly amazing, there are also many different ways to spice up that humble instant ramen and take it to the next level.
Step 1: Pick your instant ramen
The most important part of eating ramen is picking the best instant ramen for your taste. There are so many different varieties and brands of instant ramen out there. Different ramen noodles have different flavors and different textures. My favorite is Korean ramen. Korean ramen noodles tend to be thicker and chewier, with seasoning packets that tend to be spicy. Don’t be intimidated by the seasoning that comes with any instant ramen packet. You can change them to fit your taste.
Step 2: Pick your add-ins
Sometimes eating just a pack of crunchy noodles is not enough to satisfy your hunger or craving, so adding in different ingredients can really elevate your meal. Here are different categories of add-ins to consider:
Vegetables add new textures and flavors and turn your ramen into a bigger meal. Remember this is your ramen, so you should add the vegetables that you like or have on hand. I like to add any type of cabbage because it is hearty, crunchy, and stays intact in the broth. Some of my favorite vegetables to add are kimchi and pickled radish. Kimchi is fermented pickled vegetables that can add a spicy, crunchy depth of flavor to your ramen. Pickled radish adds a sweet crunch and a cool freshness. Kimchi and pickled radish can be found at any Asian market and can be a new food to try that may even turn into a staple in your fridge!
Protein adds flavor and helps fill you up. You can add any protein you choose to your ramen. A lot of the time, I use leftover protein from previous meals. Some of my go-to (non-egg) proteins are steak, spam and fish cakes. Fish cakes come in many styles and varieties, and they can be made fresh or bought already cooked and frozen. Both types can add umami to the broth. To absorb the protein flavor, you can also add Korean rice cakes. These rice cakes are glutinous, chewy, and perfect for pairing with stronger, savory flavors.
Eggs pair very well with ramen. No matter how you like your eggs or decide to cook them, they will taste great and you won’t regret adding them. If you want to figure out what kind of egg you like or how you want to cook your egg, we have many other blog posts on this subject such as Put an Egg on It. One of the most common forms of eggs in ramen is boiled. If you like your eggs on the runny side, it can add creaminess and silkiness to the noodles and broth. If you wanted to go above and beyond, add a seasoned egg, which involves boiling the eggs and soaking them in a soy sauce–based marinade. Another delicious choice is to add a runny fried egg, with crunchy edges but a runny yolk. This makes for a creamy, crispy perfect bite.
If you want to make a seasoned egg, try my easy recipe!
Seasoned Boiled Eggs
Yield: 6 each
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 6-8 minutes for eggs
Inactive time: 10 minutes to 1 week
6 boiled eggs, cooked to your liking
For the egg marinade:
5 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons Mirin1
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce2
1/2 cup water
- Have the eggs already cooked, peeled, cooled, and set aside.
- In a small bowl or Ziploc bag, mix the soy sauce, mirin, dark soy sauce, and water.
- Add eggs to the marinade then cover and let sit for at least 10 minutes3.
- Eggs can stay in the marinade in the fridge for up to a week.
- Mirin can be substituted with rice wine vinegar mixed with a pinch or sugar.
- The dark soy sauce is optional for a deeper color.
- The longer you marinate the eggs, the more flavor they take on.
I know it may seem weird, but adding some dairy brings a whole new dimension to your ramen. Dairy products like cream, milk, or cheese add creaminess to any ramen. If you opt for spicy ramen, dairy cools it down. I love to add mozzarella cheese or heavy cream to my ramen. Try it, and it might become your new favorite add-in!
To top off your ramen, add a garnish or two. I use different garnishes like scallions, fried garlic, dry roasted or fresh seaweed, and sesame oil or seeds. Seaweed and scallions add both crunch and flavors. Fried garlic and sesame oil or seeds also bring big flavors and crunchy elements. In ramen, garnish is not just decoration but adds even more depth and texture.
Step 3: Enjoy your ramen creations
All of these add-in choices give you so many different variations to try. Once you try them, your instant ramen becomes a whole new experience to enjoy, and you might not even remember that it came out of a packet. Once you become comfortable with elevating instant ramen, you can venture out into making homemade ramen dishes. For that, our Ramen 101 post is here just for you!
Here are some variations of the instant ramen that I love to make.
In this bowl, I added green cabbage and Korean fish cakes to the ramen. I topped it with kimchi, a seasoned egg, fresh seaweed, fried garlic, chopped scallions, and a drizzle of sesame oil.
In this bowl, I added Korean fish cakes and rice cakes along with some shredded cheese and heavy cream to the ramen. I topped this off with a seasoned egg, fried garlic, kimchi, extra cheese, scallions, and a drizzle of sesame oil.
With all of these add-in choices, go and jazz up your humble instant ramen like a pro!
Here at The Chopping Block, we offer cooking classes for any type of cuisine you may be craving. Our ramen classes are done for the season but don't miss our upcoming Pasta Workshop classes which also feature homemade noodles. Our May calendar will be released this Friday so check it early and often!