Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ramen Soup

One of my new fascinations is ramen.  I know I'm like 10 years late on this since I'm so far removed from college but I never really needed to eat ramen as an undergrad.  Between my meal plan, sandwiches and salads-to-go and the mountain of snacks I hoarded under my bed, eating ramen seemed silly.  Why even bother? I'm talking things imported from Japan and Korea and Indonesia.  I've paid $3 for one packet of ramen and I'll tell you right now...I'd do it again.  It was so good. Normally I don't eat ramen.  Like...at all because it's obviously not health food, but my husband is not much for cooking and if I get sick I have to make my own sick-people-soup.  I clearly cannot be trusted to cook a good meal if I'm dribbling germs all over so ramen is usually my first choice followed by crock pot cooking and chinese take out.  But ramen is nice and soupy and hot and fast.

My current case (and yes, I buy it by the case because it's cheaper and easier to transport than a dozen loose square bricks) is Nongshim brand.  It's a number one best seller on amazon and is becoming a lot easier to find in the ethnic aisle of a very large diverse mega mart and warehouse store like BJs. I know a lot of friends enjoy the MaMa brand but I feel like it's kind of greasy if you add all of the packets they provide. I like fat, but even I have to draw the line at that kind of mouthfeel to a soup plus a Nongshim square is huge. It's the HungryMan frozen meal of ramen and easily fills me to the brim. 

I really do enjoy fat, which is sort of an unpopular opinion. I like the skin on my chicken. I like the skin on my fish.  I like the fat to stay ON my pork chops and steaks as they grill.  You'd think I'd be 500lbs but everyone needs fat. Good fats are fine.  I don't sit around eating sacks of potato chips and I hate Pringles. I have a soft spot for weird flavored things but after the novelty wears off I usually forgo junk food.  I hate frying food if I can possibly avoid it because cleaning oil is nasty. I can't stand ranch dressing anywhere near a salad. I don't like plain sour cream. My choice of fats are not typical.  I like cheese but I don't think a single slice of cheese adds anything significant to my sandwiches 80% of the time so I just leave it off. I'm Asian so...we don't have many creamy foods or dairy laden entrees. It's just not part of my normal.

I'm healthy but not at all healthy.  I think it's just moderation.  You have to live, right? So I think having a ramen once a month is fine. I'm kind of happier about ramen since you still have to cook it and it therefore feels a little "fresh" by comparison to...I dunno, a can of Chef Boyardee which has taken on a kind of gelatinous feeling no matter how much you heat it. 

In case you didn't know, ramen goes bad so don't try hoarding it.  The process of making it quick to rehydrate involves deep frying the noodles and the oil will go rancid with time.  If they dehydrated the noodles it would be more like typical Italian pasta and would take a good amount more time to cook. I had a ramen a month ago that had a total of five different seasoning packets in it. It was amazing.  You can always add more stuff to your bland ramen but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a quick lazy meal.  If I wanted to doctor it up with garlic and ginger and sauces then I would have just made a true normal meal with normal fresh ingredients.

True real fresh ramen is a labor of love that takes hours of broth simmering. I've attempted it, trust me. It's really good of course and if you like Pho it's kind of a different take on that.  I've had Pho since I can recall eating food so soupy noodley things are normal which is kind of odd since it's 120 degrees with 99% humidity in SouthEast Asia and you'd think the last thing they'd want to eat is a big heaping bowl of hot soup but I think it's a pretty economical way of consuming beef (which typical pho is made of) since you get a lot of flavor out of what little you can get.