It’s “Hell Week” for me, so you know what that means: ramen and Red Bull, the breakfast of champions. Because when I’ve got more assignments than I do hours in the day, cooking like a normal person goes out the window. But that does not mean that I am willing to eat Chicken Flavor Cup Noodles for my next 21 meals.
To solve this dilemma, I’ve come up with my top five ramen recipes to make any 80-cent packet of noodles look like it’s worth…well, at least three bucks. That will guarantee you at least a 371 percent increase in noodle satisfaction.
Though it sounds vile, cheese is a surprisingly authentic ramen addition that tempers the spiciness of the broth while adding a chemical creaminess that will make your lips sing. Try American cheese singles — Kraft or Velveeta.
And if you’re really feeling crazy, you can be like me and throw in some Spam. Though for the love of God, pre-sauté that stuff. No one likes slippery Spam.
The lack of Vietnamese restaurants serving authentic pho in Ithaca — read: none — is a travesty. And while I can’t claim my noodle hack is authentic, I would argue it beats any options we have here.
You’ll need a mild ramen. I’d go with anything labeled “Oriental” flavor.
Add about half the flavoring, unless you enjoy eating salt by the bucketful. Then, amp that bad boy up with some fish sauce.
But the real key is fresh ingredients: fresh bean sprouts by the handful, fresh basil and fresh-squeezed lime juice - though I have been known to bust out the green plastic lime every one in a while.
Throw in some Siracha and Hoisin to taste and tuck in.
I’m not going to tell you about my favorite instant Yakisoba brand because they only supply five at a time at Wegman’s and I have been known to stockpile those noodles like it’s a nuclear apocalypse. But here’s how to make an equivalent product.
This recipe takes a little more cooking — and a little more kitchen — than the others, but if you can spare 3 more minutes, your stomach will thank you.
First, boil your ramen for one minute. While it’s cooking, mix equal parts ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire in a bowl.
The key here is sautéing your ramen until slightly crispy. Then, and only then, add your sauce and heat through in a final stir-fry.
You can eat the dish plain, but I like to fatten it up with Kewpie mayonnaise, furikake, sesame seeds and green onion - if I feel like I need some vegetation.
Step 1: Open ramen.
Step 2: Remove seasoning, open, pour in ramen bag.
Step 3: Fold back, shake.
Step 4: RAMEN CHIPS.
There is nothing more to say on this topic, other than: brilliant.
Collegetown Pad Thai
If you’re ever caught on campus late at night, you know Wilson Farms can be like an overpriced light in a world of darkness. And when you’ve got to have your ramen, that red and white sign can really be your friend.
Pick up any mild bowl noodle to start. Now you need to get a little creative: ingredients cannot require cutting, sautéing or otherwise complex manipulation. And it has to fit in that plastic tub you’re about to call a bowl. So you’ll need peanut butter, lime juice, bean sprouts, green onion and some serious faith.
Either find yourself a microwave or order a large cup of boiling water from Collegetown Bagels or Starbucks.
Cook your noodles well with the seasoning packet, but then pour out half of the broth. Add the lime juice and peanut butter and mix thoroughly until a paste forms.
Throw in the bean sprouts, green onion and maybe a squirt of lime juice for good measure and you’ll have an edible bowl of noodles to sustain you, even if you’re trapped in Olin for the rest of the night.