College Life

Pasta La Vista: Goodbye Traditional Ramen, Hello to These Ramen Upgrades

While it’s stereotypical to associate those famous wavy blocks of noodles with college students, the truth remains that the majority of us have, at one time or another, cooked up a bowl of Ramen.

As an artist, I appreciate Ramen for this reason: it’s a blank canvas. It has so much potential for different flavor combinations.

If you’ve recently found yourself eyeing your bowl of Ramen with jadedness, try spicing things up a little—literally. Here are some tasty ingredients to inspire your next study snack, Ramen date, or Ramen party.

1.) Spices

I highly recommend miso paste, if you have a cooler to keep it in. But if you can’t keep miso, opt for some spices.

Onion and garlic powder are two great staples. For a Thai blend, mix together some basil leaves, cumin, garlic powder, ground ginger, turmeric powder, ground cardamom, and curry powder, and add a sprinkle of the blend to your noodles.

Or try turning your Ramen into an Indian curry by mixing together crushed bay leaves, ground cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ground ginger, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, garam masala, and curry powder.

Add a sprinkle of the blend to your Ramen and pour a few tablespoons of coconut milk into your broth (culinary coconut milk can be bought in small cartons and doesn’t need refrigeration). Then enjoy your curry noodles!

2.) Bacon

A resealable bag of bacon bits (both real and imitation) doesn’t need to be refrigerated as long as you keep it in a cool, dry place, and consume them within a reasonable time.

But if you’re planning a Saturday-night Ramen party, skip the bacon bits, take the shuttle to Wal-Mart, and get a box of microwaveable bacon! Bacon adds salty-sweet depth to both brothy and saucy noodles.

Try adding bacon, scallions, and your favorite sauce to a bowl of Ramen.

3.) Fish and chicken

I actually enjoy canned fish and chicken, with other flavors. Drain a can of your favorite protein and toss it into your Ramen with some sweet chili sauce, cilantro, and peanuts.

You could even try “chicken noodle” Ramen by not draining all the water when you prepare your noodles and adding canned chicken, scallions, carrots, and celery to your bowl.

4.) Vegetables

Your best options are canned corn, peas, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. But even most cans have at least two servings, so plan your consumption accordingly.

Try a bowl of noodles with peas, bacon, chicken, scallions, and a touch of Korean BBQ sauce. Or try bacon, mushrooms, a hard-boiled egg, and miso paste.

5.) Crunchies

The best part about “crunchies” is that they don’t need refrigeration. Try adding anything and everything to your Ramen: salted peanuts, slivered almonds, tortilla strips, quinoa puffs, and crispy dried onions.

6.) Scallions

Scallions can last for a little while out of the fridge if you wrap them in paper towels and keep them in a dry, dark place. These add plenty of amazing flavor to any bowl of Ramen.

Warning: don’t eat these before meeting with friends, lest you scare them away with onion breath.

7.) Aromatics

Fresh cilantro and basil are not only cute garnishes for your upscale Ramen but also complementary to many other ingredients. Basil is gentle and sweet, and cilantro is refreshing and slightly bitter.

Experiment with both—or try something else, like parsley or tarragon. And if you like a particular herb, keep a plant of it in your dorm room.

8.) Oils and sauces

Sesame oil and soy sauce are staples for those who want to upgrade their Ramen. But you may also want to venture into the international foods aisle at the grocery store and pick up some other sauces, like sweet chili, Korean BBQ, Szechuan, etc.

Remember that a little sauce goes a long way! Too much sauce will overpower any other ingredients you choose to add to your noodles.

9.) Lime juice

Limes can be cut with a Grab-n’-Go knife and squeezed to release a delightful citrus note to your Ramen.

Have you been inspired? Then go ahead and create! Your instant noodles are a blank canvas, just waiting to become a masterpiece!

The thoughts and opinions expressed in Life in the Nest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pensacola Christian College.
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