Top 5 Ramen Hacks

Categories: Recipes, Top Five

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We don't need flavor packets where we're going...
The life of a food critic is often far less glamorous than it may seem. Truly.

For as many fine dining meals as I may eat, I eat far more often in my own kitchen. And most of those meals are leftovers designed to last for at least a few days. But while the majority of my home-cooked meals are dollar-stretching standbys like cassoulet and Hoppin' John (it's not just for New Year's!), I shamefully admit to eating Ramen noodles on a fairly standard basis.

Feel free to judge me now.

However, I learned back in college that Ramen tastes absolutely foul when prepared according to the package's instructions. (Not to mention that little flavoring packet is a vicious sodium bomb.) Instead, I came up with all manner of "hacks" to make the noodles taste better while still staying within a pretty small budget.

Here are five of my favorite Ramen recipes, good for small budgets and large appetites. (And none of them involve breaking off pieces of Ramen blocks and dipping them into salsa. You're welcome.)

Cut-Rate Carbonara

A like to keep a jumbo bag of frozen peas on hand at all times. Aside from soothing the burns I often inflict on myself, they work thrown in nearly any dish to add a quick-cooking vegetable and they're very inexpensive. Not to mention, frozen peas are usually far better, quality-wise, than what you'll get in the produce department.

For this hack, boil your Ramen noodles in a sauce pan until they're starting to soften. Add a handful of frozen peas. Drain the noodles and peas when both are cooked, then transfer immediately back to your hot pan. Crack one egg over the noodles and peas, then whisk quickly until the egg is completely incorporated into the mix. The heat from the noodles and pan will cook the egg and transform it into a sauce. Top with cracked black pepper and salt to taste.

Very minimal cost, plus you'll get protein and vegetables from the egg and peas. (And despite the cholesterol present in both the egg and the noodles, this is still a lot better for you than restaurant-made faux carbonara sauce with heavy cream.)

Super-Fast Shepherd's Pie

Again, break out the frozen peas. If you have a bag that's both peas and carrots, even better, because you'll need them both.

Brown a half-pound of ground beef with salt and pepper to taste and boil your noodles in one pan and your peas and carrots in another while your oven is pre-heating to 350 degrees. Pam-down a baking dish, then make three layers: ground beef on the bottom, peas and carrots in the middle, Ramen noodles on top. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes.

This sounds silly, but it's a very fast and very hearty dish that's great for colder months as well as for leftovers (unless you're cooking for two). And if you want some added flavor, you can always use a bit of the "Beef" flavor packet in your Ramen package in the ground beef, but a little goes a long way.


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21 comments
gcn259@yahoo.com
gcn259@yahoo.com

Sose, turns out none of you people have been poor. Get off the Meat. Put down the Pipe. Grow something you can Eat.

CMN
CMN

Tried to make the Cut-Rate Carbonara. Don't know went wrong but it was really dry. Used one pack of ramen and one egg.

Fryrice
Fryrice

You need to learn what real ramen is. :) Opening this article is like being told to go into a room for lobster. Then going into the room and getting that fake crab crap.

It's a slap in the face.

This is instant noodles. Don't let marketing fool you. Just cuz it says ramen. Don't mean it is.

Blahblahblah
Blahblahblah

Eating raw ramen noodles is supposed to be extremely bad for you and suggested to lead to small bald spots distributed on your noggin.

Mutant
Mutant

I don't get it ... most of these basically use the ramen as nothing more than a source for noodles. Why not just buy noodles? Noodles are cheap.

Atakphoto
Atakphoto

I shot a documentary in a county jail a few years back where the currency of exchange was ramen which the inmates called "soups" - This struck me as particularly odd as these inmates had no way of cooking these packets and usually just soaked the noodles under the "hot" water that came from the taps in their cells - another popular concoction was something they called a jailhouse pizza, which was basically soggy noodles topped with squeeze cheese, pickles and canned tuna -

Rhett
Rhett

As god is my witness, I will never eat ramen again.

Jay
Jay

I dunno about calling Ramen "foul" I mean some of these "hacks" look foul to me. The Salad doesn't seem too bad though.

MonsterMonster
MonsterMonster

It's a food. You can't "hack" it. Set your computer down and stop talking like a fucking douchebag.

Jenmathis
Jenmathis

I used to make Ramen Frittata: Boil the ramen noodles without flavoring, drain, and set aside. Crack one egg into a bowl, whisk the ramen's flavor packet into the egg. Arrange the cooked noodles in a small skillet, pour the egg mixture over, and cook until firm. Add cheddar cheese if desired. It's not too bad for a 20-cent package of noodles.

Laurie
Laurie

There is a lady I know that brings that salad to any and every bring a dish type event. It is actually super delicious. She always uses the Napa Cabbage for more Asian flair.

SirRon
SirRon

I think I read this post twice last month on the internets. I like ramen enough to read it a 3rd time though.

guest
guest

Hack: Slang To cope with successfully; manage

SirRon
SirRon

hashtag hyperbole {/}

Shabalabadingdong
Shabalabadingdong

You seem to forget to the point of ramen...IT'S CHEAP!

Adding all of this other stuff makes it NOT CHEAP.

If I had the money to buy ramen, beef, carrots, cheese, peas, and spices: I'd buy a fucking pizza!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Boo! Where?

Alternately, I guess more people are pinching their pennies these days, so I'm not surprised to see a resurgence of interest in cheapy-cheap meals.

SirRon
SirRon

Serious Eats... and I believe another blog that linked to the Serious Eats post, complained about the slideshow format, and offered up a few other recipes. I tried to Google, but couldn't come up with the 2nd. You can find the SE one by Googling "Ramen Hacks"

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I looked through the Serious Eats slideshow this morning. REALLY good ideas, all of them. And we share a love of the faux Shepherd's Pie! That should confirm the fact that it's actually good. :D

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