When it comes to enhancing a bowl of noodles, spice is your best friend. There are countless forms of spicy condiments, from hot sauce to chili to marinated dishes like kimchi. While any of these can add a new flavor to a dish, some work better than others.
In this article, we’re sharing our top 3 favorite ways to add heat to your instant ramen and what kinds of recipes they work best in. Check out the recipes in each section for ways to try out each spicy ingredient.
1. Chili Paste
Chili paste has SO much flavor and comes in a variety of forms. Basic chili paste is made by grinding chili peppers down to form a paste. Then, more flavors can be added, like gochujang, which adds fermented soybeans, glutinous rice powder, and salt to the mix.
Other forms of chili paste include sriracha and sambal. Jumping off from a base layer of spice, different types of chili paste can also be sweet, tangy, aromatic, earthy, and more. This spicy condiment can be used as a dipping sauce, marinade, glaze, topping, and flavoring agent.
Chili paste goes the best with a dry noodle. Here’s one of our favorite dry noodle recipes to try it out yourself.
And here are a few ramen recipes that use chili paste:
Here, we use chili paste in a sauce with sesame oil, honey, and soy sauce to flavor salmon and shiitake mushrooms. This is broiled in the oven and served with Savory Miso Ramen, bok choy, a soft-boiled egg, and fried shallots.
Chili paste goes excellent in a stir-fry. We combined chili paste with sweet chili sauce for a sweet and spicy kick in a savory sauce. Add baby bok choy, green onions, and whatever vegetables you have on hand, plus a protein of your choice to make it a balanced meal.
This recipe is a bit more complex than the others, but when we tell you it’s worth it…it’s worth it. Juicy chicken marinated in spicy gochujang and fried until perfectly crispy is an ELITE ramen topping. The extra effort is definitely worth it.
Kimchi adds flavor and it’s an extra vegetable to add a little gut-healthy spin to your ramen bowl. This fermented vegetable is spicy and adds a nice tang to your ramen. This one goes best with soupy ramen.
Kimchi can vary in spiciness from super mild to pretty hot, so if you can’t handle too much heat look for white kimchi, which has no pepper added but still adds a ton of flavor.
We created a vegetarian kimchi ramen pillow pack that has just the right amount of spice.
Here are a few different kimchi recipes to get the creative juices flowing:
Tangy kimchi meets creamy cheese in this lightly spicy ramen bowl filled with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, and of course lots of kimchi. And if it sounds strange to put American cheese in your ramen, don’t knock it until you try it! Here’s why American cheese is so awesome on instant ramen.
This comforting noodle dish features golden brown tofu, enoki and shiitake mushrooms, and fresh kimchi in a bowl of Mike's Mighty Good Vegetarian Kimchi Ramen. It’s fresh, flavorful, and easy to put together.
This kimchi ramen bowl is packed full of vegetables and kimchi flavor. This one is really for kimchi lovers. Kimchi flavor comes from three sources: both traditional and white varieties of kimchi, plus the kimchi ramen pillow pack hit that spicy tanginess home.
3. Chili Oil
This is the easiest way to spice up your ramen! It’s not too spicy but adds a little kick at the back of your throat. The roasted chili pepper taste adds such a depth of flavor, and all you need to do is drizzle it on top of any noodle bowl. Plus, it goes well with so many different types of food, so it’s a great staple to keep in your kitchen.
Here’s how to make your own chili oil from scratch. It’s easier than you might expect, and it only takes 5 minutes!
Check out these recipes featuring chili oil:
This combination of chili oil, peanut butter, sesame and soy sauce is an explosion of rich flavor. We love this sauce on our Fried Garlic Chicken ramen, but it would go well with any type of ramen.
Chili oil and wontons are a match made in heaven. Homemade shrimp wontons in a bowl of Mike's Mighty Good Savory Miso Ramen paired with a soft-boiled egg drizzled in chili oil…I’m dreaming just thinking of it.
This might be your new go-to lazy ramen recipe. Simply mix together garlic, soy sauce, Chinese vinegar, white pepper, black bean sauce, chili flakes, chili oil, and green onions. Then, stir into a cup of instant Vegetarian Vegetable Ramen, which just requires hot water poured into the cup and then drained when the noodles are cooked. Dig your chopsticks into this flavorful cup of noodles and enjoy!
We hope you’ve been inspired by our favorite ways to add spice to instant ramen. The versatility of chili paste, the complexity of kimchi, and the richness of chili oil all bring incredible flavors to the table.
Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen strives to bring you the highest-quality ramen noodles and rich broths made with simple ingredients. The noodles are organic and steamed instead of fried, plus they’re made in a facility powered by solar panels and packaged in paper cups made from certified sustainably-managed forests.