Make Instant Noodles Into Instant Magic with These Upgrades
Mini recipes! Tips and tricks! Instantly!
From one-pot pastas to homemade hand pulled Chinese noodles, this month is dedicated to exploring all ends of the pasta and noodle spectrum. To stay up to date with Slurp! The Everything Pasta and Noodles Issue, check back here for the latest recipes and articles, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for exclusive content.
Instant noodles equal endless possibilities wrapped up in a shiny package. They’ve always promised a little everyday magic to me: In my early memories, I thought everything shown on the outside of the packet—think a fried egg, fresh vegetables throughout, some slices of bbq pork—was what I would find inside. Although I soon realized that wasn’t actually the case (though the sachets of dehydrated veg have never lost their appeal to me), it doesn’t mean that you, like everyone else since the dawn of instant noodles, can’t jazz things up a bit yourself with a plethora of add-ins and have yourself food in minutes.
Before we start: Which instant noodles are the best noodles to upgrade?
There are choices upon choices of instant noodles, but to be a fan is to have your go-tos. The best ones, I find, are your favorites! For me, a firm favorite is Indomie, which was the brand of choice in my family; growing up there was always a jumbo box of the classic in the cupboard ready for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. Their Mi Goreng flavor is based on stir-fried noodles and is something that was always easy to add an egg and scallions to for little extra mileage. While they’re my nostalgic flavor, I love love love the broad selection of Korean instant ramen, which have super bouncy noodles that keep their bite. From Nongshim’s sauce Chapaghetti to Samyang’s selection including their cult hot chicken (and they mean hot chicken) buldak flavor to their delightfully chewy potato noodles. Xueci meanwhile, is a longtime fan of Shin-Ramyun’s noodles. She claims to have eaten at least 100 packets since moving to Germany, which I don’t think is an overstatement: Back in the old days at the office, she had a giant box of them under her desk which was a savior on the “I forgot my lunch” days. But, she also recommends looking out for Tang Da Ren’s noodles at your local Asian supermarket, which she says are famous for their super flavorful broths—like their pork bone broth.
Of course, not all instant noodles are equal: I’ve often found that cheaper varieties tend to have smaller portions of thinner noodles that either overcook easily or never quite seem to fully hydrate. If you’re feeling luxe I can recommend spending that little bit more (I’m talking around €3 (about $3.50) on Singaporean brand Prima Taste’s Instant Laksa. It comes with a spice paste made with fresh ingredients, a sachet of coconut cream powder, and bouncy noodles. Honestly, its depth of flavor rivals store-bought laksa paste, so it’s a nifty weeknight go-to that I add typical laksa ingredients to: tofu puffs, a soft boiled egg, bean sprouts, and Southeast Asian herbs.Or, try my new weeknight laksa recipe here.
Here are our favorite ways to upgrade a humble bowl of instant noodles, plus 4 “mini-recipes” to get you started.
1. Poach your eggs in the soup or make an instant egg drop and tomato soup!
Mengting, Founder and CEO: I always cook them in a pot with tomatoes and silken tofu. Must have is dropping an egg into it at the end (sitting in the soup like a poached egg). Love to eat it with kimchi or fermented tofu on the side.
Sidenote: If you love tomato and egg noodle soup, see this new recipe!
Mini recipe: Tomato and Egg-Drop Instant Noodles
2. Follow a “luxurious” instant ramen formula for a full, well-rounded meal
Xueci, Food Editor: I normally cook my instant ramen in a small saucepan or pot, and add veggies (shredded Napa cabbage, quartered bok choy, frozen spinach, or whatever greens); a poached egg (add it when the ramen is almost done so you get runny egg yolk); and then some luxurious toppings like fish balls and crab stick, rice cake, kimchi, pre-sliced frozen beef, tofu. If I’m feeling very fancy on a weekend, I do a single version of Budae-jjigae (Korean army stew) using instant noodles.
Eric, Photographer: I always add fish balls, fish tofu, and other general hot pot ingredients, or kimchi, tofu, spring onions, bok choy…
Side note: If you’re looking for something very new, Eric also shared what the kids are doing to instant ramen on TikTok…
Egg with a Kewpie mayo-enriched broth
Creamy kimchi ramen
Mini recipe: The souped-up instant noodle soup
3. Raid your fridge to use up veg and leftovers
Lisa, Lead Food Editor: I almost always add crispy shiitake or other mushrooms, soft boiled egg and gomasio or simply toasted sesame seeds. If I have veggie leftovers of some kind, I would add those, too.
Mini recipe: Stir-fried instant noodles
4. Add flavorful finishing touches
Sebastian, Head of Arts: Almost always, I’ll spoon in some chili oil (homemade or Lao Gan Ma), a soft-boiled egg is always nice. Perhaps I’ll throw in some scallions or dried seaweed (the kind you have in miso soup).
Mini recipe: Buttery Kimchi Instant Noodles
And: you can even use crunchy instant noodles in recipes...Have you seen Xueci’s Napa cabbage salad with ramen noodles? Click here to see it.
What’s your favorite way to make instant noodles? Let us know in the comments!
Published on September 25, 2021