The first thing that I can remember cooking for myself was a packet of ramen noodles. It was easy, quick, and hard to beat for an after school snack. However, as I grew up so too did my taste buds and my appreciation for eating healthy. During this time my once favorite snack became the epitome of what I tried to avoid in my diet; a meal consisting primarily of refined carbohydrates, high sodium, and completely lacking in vegetables. As such I avoided ramen for a long time, that is until I found out that you can make your own ramen that is both nutritious and delicious and is only slightly less convenient then a packet of ramen.
True to my style of cooking I never follow a recipe to make this dish. I just eyeball ingredients and throw them into a small pot of simmering water. The beauty of this dish is that no bowl of ramen is ever the same. Even if you order ramen in a restaurant each chef will prepare the soup differently using different ingredients. Use what you have on hand, have fun, and experiment!
How I Make It
When making this dish quickly at work I simply get a pot of simmering water going and then throw in a pinch or two of dried seaweed (any kind will do), and whatever mushrooms we have around. Shiitake mushrooms are traditionally used and for good reason; they rehydrate well, retain a nice consistency when simmered, and add a rich flavor to your soup. Since working at FFP I have also gotten to experiment with a variety of other mushrooms and my personal favorite so far is the Italian Oyster. In a soup this mushroom seems to take on an almost seafood character which works very well with the other ingredients and is particularly appealing to my New England taste buds. Once the seaweed and mushrooms are simmering along for a few minutes I then mix in a small spoonful of red miso, a dash of fish sauce, and a dash of soy sauce. All of these ingredients add great flavor to the soup, but you have to be careful not to overdo it as they are high in sodium and strong flavored. At this point I put in any vegetables that I have handy (I have used anything from Cabbage to Burdock Root, really just throw in anything that you have lying around). At the same time you can also throw in your carbohydrate. I often use soba and/or udon noodles but have also used leftover brown rice in a pinch. If using dry noodles you have to cook these until tender. A few minutes before the noodles are done I often throw in a few cubes of tofu and crack an egg in the pot. The tofu just needs to be in long enough to warm up and I try and cook the egg so that the white is cooked through but the yolk is still runny. Previously cooked and shelled hard boiled eggs also work well.