Week 16: Ramen. The most versatile of soups.

More choices than you may have realized.

We are all familiar with the ubiquitous little packets of Ramen Soup. The staple food of students and insomniacs the world over. Not the greatest meal and a horrible source of nutrition, but inexpensive and readily available. Worse yet are the styrofoam cups of Ramen known as Pot Noodles. Not exactly a culinary delight but have heart, there is a lot that canoe done with the lowly Ramen noodle.

First just toss out the Pot Noodles. they are in all senses disgusting and little can be done to improve them. I know they are convenient in the workplace microwave world we live in but they are just too bad to bother with. Take a few minutes and make something a bit more edible and bring it with you.

Now add the other ingredients back into the pot and you have a passible meal cooked in only one pot for easy cleanup. And ditch the little packet of flavoring you can. Use a good broth or stock if possible.

Now onto the title packets of noodles. They can be the basis of a fair meal. Cook the noodles in plain water and set aside. Using the hot water, boil a couple of eggs and set aside. Empty the pan and fry (yes you can fry in s saucepan) some meat. Chicken, pork or beef work great to you can just poach a little fish if you want and set aside. Using fresh water or stock, boil some thinly sliced vegetables. Don’t overcook the veggies.

But wait! There are even better choices for Ramen Noodles. Most Japanese markets and many better grocery stores sell much higher quality noodles in dried, as in the box on the right, or frozen forms. these noodles are in a totally different class than the little packets we all know so well. They are seriously worth the effort to go and look for.

The best way to prepare soup with these higher quality noodles is to pre cook your protein. Either meats, eggs or seafood and set aside. Then cook the noodles in one pot and the veggies and sauce in another. When the veggies and noodles are done combine in a bowl with the meat and cover with the flavored stock. top with fresh veggies and herbs or other add ins.

Go for the good stuff

If you don’t want to make your own stock for the soup base, just go buy the pre made Ramen stocks available at Japanese markets. They are expensive but they go a long way. this bottle was about $45 but it makes 5 gallons of stock as directed. To me that is a little strong so I dilute it a bit further and get about 7 gallons out of a bottle. When you see how many bowls of soup come out of 7 gallons of stock after adding in the noodles, meat and veggies, this bottle goes a long long way.

The soup we make with the better noodles, good stock, fresh veggies and some fresh herbs is a fantastic and very nutritious meal. A far cry from the snack made from the little packets. Ramen is all the rage in the western world today. Don’t miss out on this great soup.

Besides Ramen this week we cooked big Pizzas leaving enough for some leftover meals. Pancakes for dinner one night. Fresh made veggie juice. Chili over corn chips with cheese and onions. Pork Chops with stuffing, gravy and veggies. And finally sandwiches. We keep meat, cheese, bread and other sandwiches toppings at hand at all times now. It is less expensive, faster, easier and more healthy to make sandwiches on busy nights that we previously would have just run out for burgers.

That’s all for this week. John

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