Quick, picture a bowl of ramen! What did you see? A bowl of plain noodles and broth? A dish that’s chock full of veggies? Or maybe there were chunks of meat or beef in the bowl?
Point being, there are many different ways to prepare a ramen bowl. It can be anything you want, from a snack to a full, robust meal.
But one of Ramen’s biggest attractions is how easy it is to prepare. Strictly speaking, all you need is five minutes and some boiling water. What do you do if you want to dress up your ramen without taking the time to prepare an elaborate meal?
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By choosing the right ingredients, you can add flavor and texture to your noodle bowl in mere seconds or minutes. Here are the top five things you can use to upgrade your next bowl of ramen!
1. Fish Sauce
Fish sauce is a great way to add umami flavor to your ramen bowl. It’s a popular ingredient in many recipes, and it’s easy to understand why. You just splash some into your broth and mix it up. The key here is to start with relatively small quantities. Depending on the exact sauce, the flavor can be pretty intense, and you don’t want to overdo it. Remember: you can always add more sauce later if you want to kick things up another notch.
You can use this sauce on standalone noodles for instantaneous improvement. But fish sauce is also found in all kinds of ramen recipes. For example, we use fish sauce in our Rabokki Ramen, along with spicy gochujang sauce for heat and Korean rice cakes for texture. Whether you’re looking for a one-step upgrade or a versatile ingredient for recipes, fish sauce definitely deserves to have a place in your pantry.
2. Fried Garlic Chips
Garlic is one of the most popular ramen ingredients. More broadly, it’s one of the most popular ingredients for any recipe. From Chinese food to Italian food, you’ll find garlic in a wide variety of recipes. But garlic cloves themselves aren’t exactly quick and easy to work with. You have to skin them, which gets messy, and you have to press them or mince them, which not only makes more of a mess, but also creates more dirty dishes for you to deal with later.
Different types of recipes have different solutions to this problem. For example, garlic powder is often used for seasoning meats. But garlic powder isn’t ideal for most ramen recipes, either. It can be tough to mix into a broth, and once you’ve mixed it in, it doesn’t contribute any texture.
Fried garlic chips, on the other hand, are the best of both worlds. Like actual garlic cloves, they add some tangible texture to your ramen. And like garlic powder, they’re easy to use. You can also use them in different ways. Blend them into your ramen, and they’ll soften up a bit, and leech some flavor into the broth. Alternatively, you can sprinkle them over the top so they remain crunchy.
3. Green Onions
Green onions are a milder alternative to garlic. If you want to add some zing to your ramen but garlic makes you curl your nose up, green onions are a great option. Like fried garlic chips, they can be used two different ways. When they’re mixed into the broth, they’ll quickly become soft, and the onion flavor will become steeped into the broth. When you sprinkle them on top, they’ll retain their fibrous texture, and biting down on one will release an explosion of flavor.
To properly use green onions, you want to cut them up into short lengths – ideally less than half an inch. Because they’re hollow, they should actually look like little rings. We should also note that unlike the other ingredients on today’s list, green onions don’t keep for very long. They take just seconds to cut up and prepare, but they’ll last for a week or less in your fridge.
When it comes to improving your ramen, few ingredients can be as powerful as butter. This might sound like an odd choice, at first. Butter goes on bread. Butter is used for frying. Since when does butter go into a broth or a bowl of noodles? In fact, it can be absolutely delicious.
When you blend butter into your ramen, take the time to mix it thoroughly into the broth, until it melts completely and blends to a consistent color. This will ensure that it’s evenly distributed throughout the dish, and provides a rich, creamy consistency. Not only that, but butter naturally has a slightly sweet flavor, which will further enhance your dish. It’s not necessary to use salted butter, though. Mike’s Mighty Good ramen already has all of the flavor you need, with a rich blend of spices, and significantly less sodium than similar brands. Why mess that up by using butter that’s chock full of salt?
If you want to add some protein and vitamins as well as flavor, an egg is one of the easiest ingredients to use. Compared to preparing meat or even tofu, eggs can be cooked in just a couple of minutes while you’re waiting for your ramen water to boil. By the time your noodles are done, your eggs will be ready to add.
Like the rest of these ingredients, eggs are also highly versatile. A lot of recipes call for hard-boiled eggs, but you can also use a soft-boiled egg if you still want to have some yolky goodness. Poached is another popular choice, particularly if the yolk is still runny. There’s nothing quite like popping a gooey yolk and dipping your noodles in it. Scrambled eggs are also fair game, and can make your ramen feel a little bit like a stir-fry. And if you want to mix things up, you can scramble your eggs and dribble them into the boiling water. That’s what we do in our Creamy Spicy Miso Ramen.
Looking for more ridiculously good ramen recipes? Try these: