Ramen noodles are ubiquitous in dorm rooms, break rooms and lots of other places where boiling water is all the cooking a person can do.
The noodles are a brick of deep-fried pasta in a bag with a pouch of soup mix. Tear open the packet, add hot water and wait, and you get a salty, vague approximation of the traditional Japanese noodle soup that gave the product its name.
The original Japanese ramen’s fame rests on hearty custom-made stocks and handmade pasta. The cheap factory knockoff has noodles, but similarities essentially end there. Noodle dough is formed, steamed, deep-fried and packaged.
For most eaters, packet ramen’s market penetration has more to do with cost – under 20 cents – than taste, or nutrient value, unless you are talking about sodium.
The package mix is easy to add to, though. Toss in fresh or frozen vegetables, leftover meats or other protein, or even stir in an egg while it’s simmering.
Its omnipresence even has people using the unboiled noodles – which are fine to eat, if bland – as crunchy elements in other dishes.
Nicer noodles: There are dozens of Asian brands from Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and elsewhere that add much more character, like kimchi or miso broth, with better quality noodles. Look for them in your supermarket’s Asian foods section, or in Asian grocery stores.
Here, broken uncooked ramen noodles and their flavor packet are used to add crunch and flavor to a classed-up coleslaw that takes about 90 seconds to make. Swap out the cherries for raisins or other dried fruit like cranberries or chopped apricots, and add your nut of choice – dry-roasted peanuts work well, too. There are a million versions out there, but this recipe is courtesy of Pat Rosinski.
Asian Coleslaw Salad
1 16-ounce bag coleslaw mix
½ cup sunflower seeds or almonds
½ cup dried fruit, like cherries or raisins
1 package ramen noodles, coarsely crushed, preferably chicken flavor
3 to 4 chopped scallions
½ cup canola or vegetable oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 envelope ramen seasoning
Toss coleslaw mix, seeds or nuts, dried fruit, crushed ramen and scallions in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, sugar and ramen seasoning until well combined.
Pour over salad ingredients and toss. Serve quickly, or noodles will start to get soggy.