10 Ways to Dress Up Your Ramen

March 23, 2020

Isn’t it wonderful how ramen never lets you down? You’re a poor college student with the midnight munchies? Ramen. You’re a hungry backpacker needing to make a quick, hot meal in the pouring rain? Ramen. You’re quarantined during a pandemic and the cupboard is almost bare? Ramen. Here are a few suggestions for elevating this faithful standby from survival food to whole new levels of deliciousness. 

First, it’s time to select your brand of ramen. Not all ramen are created equal, so if you have options, choose wisely. You can do better than the 50-cent ramen packets that you may have eaten dry with Skippy on top late at night during freshman year of college (guilty). My current favorite brand of ramen is Lotus Foods, which offers a variety of noodle flavors, including black rice, brown rice, millet, and jade pearl rice. This is a truly stylish ramen. Thai Kitchen also makes a nice rice noodle ramen that cooks in an aromatic lemongrass and chili broth. Yum!

Even if all you have is the standard version of ramen, there’s still hope for your dinner. Here are some options for dressing up your pack o’ noodles.

  • Instead of using the flavor packet that comes with the ramen, try adding a bit of miso paste to the broth. You’ll want to add the miso paste at the very end, after you’ve cooked the noodles and turned off the heat, since miso loses some of its nutritional benefits if boiled. 
  • Slice up some onions and carrots and cook them in the water before adding the noodles. 
  • When I lived in China, where ramen is affectionately known as fangbian mian, or “convenient noodles,” it was possible to buy sheets of dried curd known as “tofu skin” to add to the miso-flavored ramen for a good dose of plant-based protein. If can’t find tofu skin, you can substitute soy curls, which can be ordered online if you’re stuck at home. 
  • If you have regular tofu on hand, cut it into small cubes and cook it with whatever veggies are available before adding the noodles.
  • Add some seaweed (I like to use kombu) to the broth in order to perk up the flavor and get a good dose of trace minerals. Top with a bit of toasted sesame oil to taste and enjoy!
  • Cook the ramen noodles in broth (veggie or bone broth) instead of water, along with your favorite leafy greens or other veggies.
  • Season the broth with turmeric in addition to the flavor packet. 
  • Sauté a bit of onion and garlic and add that to the broth as well. 
  • Top your bowl with a sliced hard-boiled egg.
  • Make a Thai-style ramen using Thai curry paste, coconut milk, a little brown sugar and salt, or fish sauce to taste. This tends to work best with rice noodle ramen. 

If you’d like to practice eating ramen like a true connoisseur, try eating it like they do in China. First hold the bowl up close to your face—you don’t want to lose a single drop of this goodness! Then, use chopsticks to coax the ramen into your mouth, slurping with gusto. The slurping is not considered rude—it’s a way to cool the ramen off so that you don’t get burned. Anyway, you probably won’t be having anyone over for dinner this week, so why not forget about table manners and enjoy! 

For more inspiration, visit our YouTube channel to browse yoga classes, guided meditations, wisdom from our faculty and presenters, cooking demos, and more.

Katie Hagel, RYT-500, is a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and Kripalu Yoga teacher.

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