Instant ramen is many things. It’s a classic comfort food that’s affordable, satisfying, and easy to prepare. At the same time, most people don’t associate it with a complete, well-rounded meal. At best, it’s a snack that you enjoy sometimes as a guilty pleasure.
So, how do you make instant ramen into a high-quality, grown-up meal? We’re about to talk about several ways to make instant ramen better, including several tasty recipes. Hint: it all starts with choosing the right pack of noodles.
A Rich Blend of Broth and Spices
Instant ramen has a reputation for being bland and unhealthy. A lot of that starts with the ingredients in the packet. At best, you’re getting a bunch of artificial flavoring. At worst, you’re just getting a bunch of salt. This is alright in an emergency, but surely your taste buds deserve better.
This is a real shame, because restaurant ramen is delicious. It has a balanced, nuanced flavor, and it’s made with rich broth. It’s also topped with delicious meats and veggies, and the noodles themselves are made with simple, wholesome ingredients.
Thankfully, you don’t need to go to a ramen bar to find high-quality noodles with tasty broth. Mike’s Mighty Good is designed to be as rich, delicious, and gourmet as possible, without all the weird ingredients and added salt, so you enjoy a bowl that tastes as rich as anything you’ll buy from a ramen chef.
The first thing that sets good noodles apart is the ingredients. If you look at most commercial ramens, the ingredients list looks like a list of words for the national spelling bee. Sure, there are things like flour and oil. But there are also preservatives, emulsifiers, and other weird ingredients.
Mike’s noodles are made only with simple ingredients with names you can recognize. The main ingredients are organic wheat flour, salt, and water. These are the same ingredients used by ramen shops that prepare their own fresh noodles.
Steamed Noodles, Not Fried
Another thing most commercial ramen manufacturers do is flash-fry their noodles in oil. This process is very fast, and it allows ramen factories to churn out noodles at an incredible rate. Unfortunately, the oil doesn’t stay in the factory. It seeps into your noodles, and comes out when the noodles are cooked. This changes the flavor of the broth, which can throw off your entire recipe.
Oil-fried noodles also have a softer texture than traditional noodles. They don’t have any bounce, and they’re only slightly chewy. Authentic ramen noodles should be bouncy and chewy, and you won’t get that from most instant packs.
At Mike’s, we cook our noodles the right way: by steaming them instead of frying them. This gives them the taste and texture you expect from an authentic bowl of noodles. Yes, steaming our noodles takes longer, and our factories can’t work as quickly as the big commercial brands. But we think it’s worth it to bring you the best ramen possible.
Instant ramen oftentimes contains a lot of salt – and we do mean a lot. Commercial brands do this in order to add a lot of flavor as cheaply as possible. Adding more salt takes more time, effort, and expense than taking the time to develop a quality blend of spices. Unfortunately, this leads to a flavor that’s intense, but not terribly complex. Eating too much sodium can also be bad for your health.
To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at how much salt is in some of the leading brands. Here’s a comparison of three popular chicken ramen cups:
- Nongshim: 1,310 milligrams per serving (55% daily value)
- Maruchan: 1,180 milligrams per serving (51% daily value)
- Nissin: 1,160 milligrams per serving (51% daily value)
That’s a ton of salt!
Mike’s Mighty Good uses as little salt as possible, and instead focuses on creating a complex, textured flavor. Our chicken ramen cup contains only 780mg of sodium per serving, or 34% of your daily value. All things considered, our ramen contains 40% less sodium per ounce than major corporate brands.
Build a Complete Ramen Bowl
Even the best quality broth and noodles make for a light meal at best. If you want a proper square meal with plenty of nutrients and texture, you’ll want to add some more ingredients. Here are some popular additions for a bowl of ramen.
Soy sauce: Soy sauce is an ingredient in many ramen recipes, and delivers a salty and umami flavor. It’s particularly tasty in recipes that include chicken, fish, or tofu.
Pepper and red pepper: These are both great ways to add some heat to your meal. Add a whole lot if you want a blazing hot dish, or just a dash if you only want a little burn.
Sriracha or gochujang sauce: Both of these sauces are spicy, but they also contribute additional flavors. Sriracha has a truly unique taste that’s a bit sour as well as spicy.
Cheese or vegan cheese: If you like cheese, you probably like to put it on everything. Depending on your recipe, you can use anything from a rich cheddar to a creamier, milder provolone. You can melt it into your noodles if you want a cozier dish. Or, on a hot day, put a cold slice of deli cheese right over the top.
Onions, garlic, and shallots: At least one of these things is going to go well in just about any recipe. Take the time to choose a breed of onion that works well for your recipe. Use garlic if you want more bite. Or, if you want something a little bit less pungent, consider adding some diced or sliced shallots instead.
Cabbage: Not everything has to be about flavor, although cabbage certainly contributes a pleasant, mild taste. But the main advantage of cabbage is the added texture and bulk. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get more fiber into your diet.
Chicken, beef, or pork: If you want a more filling meal with longer-lasting energy, you need to add some protein. Chicken, beef, and pork are all excellent choices. Chicken is generally the most versatile, because of its mild flavor. Beef and pork go better in bolder recipes, due to their more potent umami flavor.
Tofu: Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can forego protein. Wash some tofu, fry it up in oil with some salt and pepper, and add it to your ramen.
Eggs: Eggs also provide protein, and can play all kinds of roles in your ramen dish. You can use hard boiled eggs the same way you’d use a meat. You can soft boil or poach your eggs, and dip your noodles into the runny yolk. You can even scramble the eggs and drip them into the boiling broth, and make an egg drop soup base. The options are endless!
Peanuts: Peanuts are an excellent choice for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they add a satisfying crunch. But they also compliment most types of broth, as well as spicy recipes.
Ramen Recipe Ideas
Before we wrap up, let’s talk about a few of our favorite ramen recipes. These are just a few examples. You can find many more on our recipes page. Or, you can wing it and create your own recipe!
Spicy… Cheesy… Ramen. Do we have to say anything else? We start by putting milk in the broth, which makes it uniquely creamy. We add sriracha, garlic, and hot sauce for heat, and top it off with American cheese. If you’re vegan, just substitute soy milk and vegan cheese, and you’re ready to go.
Rabokki Ramen is served over a pair of Korean rice cakes. We use gochujang paste, a poached egg, and Mike’s Mighty Good vegetarian kimchi ramen, and pour the broth over the top so it soaks into the rice cakes. Yum!
Coconut curry ramen represents a fusion of sweet and spicy. It’s based on a garlic chicken ramen pillow pack, with curry paste for heat as well as flavor. Meanwhile, there’s coconut milk mixed into the broth, which mitigates the spicy flavor and sounds some sweet notes. Meanwhile, a bit of ground chicken absorbs both flavors, and fills out the noodles nicely.
Who says ramen is just a dinnertime food? With a little creativity, you can savor your ramen bowl at any time of day. In this recipe, we combine bacon, eggs, green onions, and cherry tomatoes with a pack of pork ramen. It’s like having a traditional American breakfast in your ramen noodles.
Enjoy Better Instant Ramen With Mike’s Mighty Good
As you can see, instant ramen doesn’t have to be junk food. With the right ingredients and preparation, a bowl of ramen can be as delicious and wholesome as anything you prepare from scratch. It all starts with using steamed noodles that are made with simple ingredients. Build upon that with other healthy ingredients, and you’ll have a complete meal in no time.
Check out our blog for more information, follow us on Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the fabulous world of ramen noodles, and watch our TikTok videos for recipe inspiration and visual walkthroughs.