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3 Recipes To Doctor Up A Packet of Instant Ramen

The $1 lunch just got a whole lot better.
ramen noodles

A packet of ramen is a blank slate that presents endless opportunities for dinner. If you're eating your instant ramen flavored only by that sad little packet of powder that comes with it, you are doing it wrong. There's a whole sub-culture of instant ramen recipes and hacks out there, and some of them are truly inspired ways to make your ramen go from sad to satisfying.

You can take after high-end ramen joints, and use things like miso paste and pork belly to try and get as close to real Japanese ramen as you can. Or you can use other dollar-store ingredients that preserve ramen's instant nature to hack up a soupy lunch for under $5 (hello Spam!). Whatever you decide to do, here's an easy template of things to add to ramen, to help inspire your instant ramen upgrades.

To flavor the ramen broth:

  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Sriracha
  • Minced garlic
  • Grated ginger
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Tomato sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Fish sauce
  • Coconut milk
  • Miso paste
  • Chili paste
  • Vinegar

To make instant ramen feel like lunch:

  • Shredded or ground chicken
  • Cubed or ground beef
  • Ground pork or sliced pork belly (bacon if you must)
  • Cubed tofu
  • Chunks of canned salmon or tuna
  • Boiled or fried egg
  • Sliced Spam

To add a fresh and healthy crunch:

  • Shiitake or other mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Sprouts
  • Corn
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapeño peppers

To add the final touches:

  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Caramelized onions
  • Crushed peanuts
  • Sesame oil
  • Chili flakes

Three simple doctored-up ramen recipes

In their unique book of ramen hacks, Prison Ramen, authors Clifton Collins Jr. and Gustavo "Goose" Alvarez, gather ingenious recipes from people who spend a good amount of creative energy coming up with ways to make their ramen taste as delicious as possible—inmates. We bring you three of our favorite instant ramen recipes from their book.

Rotisserie Chicken Ramen (Keep It Fresh Ramen)

Ingredients

1 pack chicken flavor Ramen
1 cup of boiling water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken
2 tablespoons salsa
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Salt and Pepper

How to Make It

1. Crush the Ramen in the wrapper and empty into a bowl.
2. Add the water, cover, and let sit for 8 minutes.
3. Drain the water, add the seasoning, mix well, and set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, add the lime juice, chicken, salsa, and cilantro. Mix well.
5. Add to the bowl of Ramen, mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Sriracha Pork Ramen (Slash's Jaywalking Ramen)

Ingredients

1 pack chicken flavor Ramen
1 cup boiling water
3 scallions, chopped
1⁄2 cup cooked minced pork
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce, or to taste
Note: This recipe is still a favorite snack on the tour bus.

How to Make It

1. Crush the Ramen in the wrapper and empty into a bowl. Add the seasoning.
2. Add the water, stir, cover and let sit for 8 minutes.
3. Mix in the scallions and pork.
4. Add the sriracha to taste.

Ramen Goulash

Ingredients

2 packs beef flavor Ramen
1 1⁄2 cups boiling water
1 1⁄2 cups or 3⁄4 pound beef chunks (about 11 ounces)
1⁄2 cup chopped cooked potatoes
1⁄2 cup chopped celery
1⁄2 cup chopped onion
2 jalapeño chiles, chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Note: I've been known to double the mayonnaise if I have it handy.

How to Make It

1. Crush the Ramen in the wrappers and empty into a bowl. Set aside the seasoning packets.
2. Add the water, cover, and let sit for 8 minutes.
3. Drain off excess water.
4. Mix the roast beef, potatoes, celery, onion, and jalapeños in a large microwavable bowl. Add a little water to moisten—about 2 tablespoons.
5. Cover and microwave for about 5 minutes, until hot.
6. Add the Ramen and mayonnaise. Mix well.

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Mura Dominko
Mura Dominko is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!. Read more
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