Ramen. We all know it as a college student cuisine, or even the taboo "food of the empty-pocketed." Some chefs might just laugh at the thought of making something with Ramen. Personally I love Ramen, and it's a great base for an endless array of culinary creations. Never limit yourself to only the flavor packets. With a few simple pantry staples, and maybe some leftovers, you can make your own, unique Ramen dish. This is your chance to be creative AND resourceful in a pinch!
I also have a recipe for Pad Thai made out of Ramen in a previous blog you can see here.
Soy Sauce: A major ingredient in Asian cuisine, soy sauce gives a rich and salty flavor to food. Use it in lieu of salt, and go easy on it, it can become overpowering when used in excess.
Crushed Red Chili Flake: Yup, just like the kind you find at pizzerias. Add some spice with this, but remember, a little goes a long way! Although there are many types of heat you can use, I fond that this ingredient offers a clean heat that compliments other flavors well.
Sesame Oil: Another popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, seasame oil offers a very unique flavor that is near impossible to duplicate. Sesame oil gives a richness/thickness to Ramen, with a round toasty flavor that makes the noodles pop.
Ginger: You can use fresh or dried/ground varieties, it offers a more subtle spice and tang to a dish.
Hot Sauce: For you tabasco lovers, you can use it in Ramen too!
Cayanne Pepper: Doesn't provide as clean of a heat as the red pepper flakes, but it much more potent. If you're a spice lover, this might be your medicine.
Lime Juice: For some brightness and tang, squeeze some fresh lime juice in your noodles.
Leftovers: Got some leftover roasted chicken? Or maybe some leftover steak/fajitas/pot roast? You can use it in your Ramen! Be sure to cut the meat into little cubes, or slice it very thinly, you can even shred it - whichever works for you.
Avocado: The creamy and cool tastes of the avocado compliment a hot bowl of Ramen very nicely. Tortilla soup has avocado in it, so think of it as a cross of cultures. Trust me, it works quite nicely, especially if you're making a spicy Ramen.
Garlic: You can use fresh cloves or the powder to pump up your cup of noodles.
Veggies: vegetables are a great addition to Ramen. Carrots, cabbage, tomato, mushrooms, white onion, green onion (my favorite), and squash bring nutritional value and more flavors to your bowl.
I always enjoy opportunities in the kitchen when I can utilize leftovers and my many miscellanous spices and herbs to make a new combination, and it works out very nicely when Ramen is involved. I do love cooking, but this is a great remedy for those days where I don't feel like cooking, or I want something fast, or maybe the kitchen is dirty from one of my baking sprees. Any chance where I can get resourceful in the kitchen always makes me feel accomplished. So take a look in your pantry and in your fridge, and turn a plain bowl of Ramen into a real treat!