For many of us, our first introduction to ramen was back in college. Maybe you’d whip up a packet of ramen noodles in your dorm room hot pot. But who wants a plain bowl of noodles and broth when you can change things up with other ingredients? Now that you’re all grown up, the noodles can form the base for a better recipe.
Many people use milk in their ramen instead of water. It’s something you already have in your kitchen, and it’s an easy hack to make your ramen bowl extra special. But did you know you can use soy milk instead of dairy milk? This isn’t just a straightforward one-for-one substitution, though. Here’s why soy milk in ramen is awesome, and how to use it in your next recipe.
Check out our Vegan Soy Milk Ramen recipe, pictured below.
Why Use Soy Milk?
Like we said, substituting soy milk for milk isn’t just a hack for vegans. Dairy milk and soy milk have a fundamentally different character. If you use soy milk in a recipe that was meant for dairy, it’s going to taste different. So if you’ve tried milk in the past and it hasn’t been to your liking, soy milk might be just what you were looking for.
Dairy milk gives your ramen a milky, creamy character. It takes the heat out of spicy ramen and adds a thick, rich texture.
Soy milk, on the other hand, is sweet and nutty. It’s not as thick and creamy. But the sweetness will compliment almost any other flavor, and the nuttiness is fantastic with meat or tofu.
How to Use Soy Milk
Using soy milk in ramen is simple. Instead of water, you boil your noodles in an equivalent amount of soy milk. It’s a snap! A packet of chicken ramen works best, but you can use any variety you like.
The result is incredible. Even with just the noodles and soy milk, the result is incredible. It’s the perfect mix of sweet, creamy, toasty, and nutty. You might need to start buying more soy milk, because you’ll want to do this again.
But why stop there? Add your favorite ramen toppings to create any flavor combination you like! Toss in some veggies to give your recipe some crunch and add some vitamins. Or add some meat or tofu to get much-needed protein. It’s your bowl – get creative with it!
How to Prepare Mike’s Mighty Good Noodles
Soy milk will only get you so far if you’re not cooking your noodles properly. No matter what instant ramen recipe you’re using, good noodle technique is key. Here’s how to get the perfect texture and bounce every time.
Bring the Water to a Boil
To begin with, you need to bring your water – or soy milk – to a full boil. It’s easy to get impatient and add your noodles the moment the first tiny bubbles start to form in the pot. Don’t. Even steaming-hot water won’t cook your noodle correctly; it needs to be at a full boil.
Near sea level, where most people live, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But bubbles will begin to appear at only 176 degrees. That’s a difference of 36 degrees! But won’t your noodles at least get a head start, even if they’re not cooking as quickly?
Unfortunately, that’s part of the problem. Noodles cook from the outside in. When you start them at a lower temperature, it takes longer for the centers of the noodles to warm up. While they’re taking their sweet time, the outsides of the noodles are getting soggy. If you pull the noodles out as soon as the outsides are cooked, the insides will still be tough and chewy. You can’t win!
When you bring your water to a full boil, the noodles cook more quickly. Instead of a stark difference between different parts of the noodle, the whole thing is soft, chewy, and bouncy.
This can be trickier with noodle cups, since you’re taking the water off the heat and pouring it into the cup. Make sure to cover your noodle cup while it’s cooking, so steam and heat stay as contained as possible.
Some people add their noodles early on purpose, since they don’t want to fully cook their noodles. But you still end up with an inconsistent texture. Instead, try waiting for the water to boil and cooking the noodles for less time than the package calls for. You’ll still get your undercooked noodle, but the texture will be consistent.
Now that your water is boiling, you’re ready to cook your noodles. That said, you’ll need to do things differently depending on whether you’re cooking a pillow pack or a noodle cup. Along the same lines, you’ll us a different method for microwaves as opposed to stovetops. Let’s take a closer look.
Preparing a Noodle Packet
To prepare a Mike’s Mighty Good noodle packet, pour 1 ¾ cups of water into your pot. Some of this will boil off, and leave you with enough to create the perfect broth. Boil your water, add your noodles, and wait for three minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in your flavor packet, and transfer everything to a bowl. Add any toppings and you’re all set!
If you’re preparing your noodles in the microwave, you’ll have to cook them in the bowl. Break the noodle brick in half so it’s more manageable, and put them in the bowl along with 1 ½ cups of water. Position the noodles so the water covers them, and bring the water to a boil. You’ll have to keep your eyes on it, since different microwaves cook at different speeds. When the water is about to boil over, turn off the microwave. Wait a few minutes for it to cool, and your ramen will be ready.
Preparing a Cup of Noodles
Ramen cups are a bit different. First, bring 1 ¼ cup of water to a boil in whatever way you like. You can do this on the stove, with a teapot or electric kettle, or even boil it in your microwave.
Open the top of your noodle cup halfway, pour in the water, and cover it back up. It’s best to put a saucer or something similar over the top to keep the heat contained. After six minutes, your ramen will be ready to eat.
Don’t Let Them Clump
Ramen noodles contain starch, which can cause them to stick together when they’re cooking. When they clump up, the noodles on the inside cook slower and the noodles on the outside cook faster. Furthermore, the noodles can become completely stuck, creating a knot instead of easy-to-manage individual noodles.
While you’re cooking, stir your noodles every minute or so. Not only will this keep them from clumping, but stirring the water will keep them evenly distributed.
Note that this doesn’t apply to noodle cups. Since the water in the cup isn’t boiling or turbulent, the noodles won’t form a clump to begin with.
Use Mike’s Mighty Good Noodles
If you want a delicious bowl of healthy ramen, you need to start with the right noodles. Your typical supermarket noodles are usually sub-par. They’re cooked in oil instead of being steamed, which ruins the flavor and texture. They’re also chock full of salt.
Mike’s Mighty Good craft ramen is a cut above most of the competition. Our noodles are steamed, not fried, so they have the bouncy texture and simple flavor you’d find at a real ramen bar. We also create complex blends of spices and herbs instead of jamming our flavor packets with salt.
When you use the right noodles and the right technique, you’re sure to get a delicious bowl. And with soy milk, you can put a unique twist on any ramen recipe.