Instant ramen is a staple when it comes to classic college dorm room food. The problem is one serving of instant ramen isn’t always filling enough to satisfy you as a meal. Plus, eating the same packaged ramen daily can get boring and monotonous. But the good news is there are a bunch of upgrades you can make to your instant ramen to liven it up and make it more filling.
Here are ten easy ways to enhance your instant ramen.
One of the good things about garlic is a little bit goes a long way. If you mince garlic and sauté it in some oil before adding it to your ramen, it can really add a lot of flavor to the broth and make it more exciting than just powdered seasoning and water.
If you’re somewhere where you don’t have access to a kitchen with a stove to sauté your garlic, don’t worry. I’ve found a good way to work around this it by using garlic salt. It keeps the garlic flavor without the hassle of having to sauté garlic on the stove (just be careful not to overdo it if you use the garlic salt method. Instant ramen tends to be salty already).
Instant ramen can be a little bland, which isn’t the worst thing in the world when you’re just looking something to eat that’s quick and easy. But you don’t have to settle for bland ramen, even when you’re making it in your dorm room. Sriracha is one of the best ways to add a little bit of a kick to your instant ramen if you like spicy food. You can get a 17-ounce bottle for around $5 and it’ll probably last you a while. Sriracha is strong, so a little bit goes a long way and you don’t need to use a ton of it to add a whole lot of flavor to your instant ramen.
There are so many ways to cook an egg that you’re bound to find one that you’re able to do and that you love in your ramen. If you have access to a stove and a pot, a soft-boiled egg might be a good way to go. Just put an egg into boiling water, turn down the heat, let the egg cook for five minutes, remove and place into an ice water bath, let it sit, then peel. From there, your soft-boiled egg can be cut in half and placed into your ramen. An easier method is to find pre-made hard boiled eggs, which can be cut and added to your ramen to add more flavor with even less work.
4. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a really simple and often overlooked way to enhance instant ramen. It’s easy to find in just about any grocery store and it adds another level of flavor to your ramen to make it feel more like something you’d get at a restaurant, rather than something you just whipped up in your dorm room. But same as with the garlic salt from earlier, be careful not to overdo it. Soy sauce is pretty salty and so is instant ramen.
5. Peanut Butter
I know this may sound weird at first, but just hear me out. Adding a spoonful or so peanut butter to your ramen after cooking it can add a whole new level of flavor to your noodles and too your broth, plus it adds a little bit of extra protein.
While it might not be the most conventional upgrade to make to your instant ramen, it’s really not that far of a stretch from noodles with peanut sauce, so it’s definitely worth a shot. If you already have peanut butter in the house and are looking for a way to enhance your instant ramen, this might be the way to go.
6. Green Onions
Green onions are another aromatic that can take your instant ramen to the next level. There aren’t any special skills required to add it into your ramen either. Just chop the green onions (or you can buy them from the store pre-chopped to make your life even easier) and sprinkle them on top of your finished ramen. It’s an ingredient that you’ll find on many ramen bowls from restaurants, so adding green onion will enhance your instant ramen both in terms of taste and appearance.
Incorporating leftovers from previous dinners is a great way to breathe new life into these old meals while also enhancing your instant ramen. For example, my family tends to eat chicken for dinner a few times a week and there are always leftovers.
What I’ve been doing is taking a portion of this leftover chicken, slicing it and adding it to my instant ramen after it’s done cooking. It’s been a great way for me to add some extra protein to my ramen while also giving me a way to get excited about eating leftovers.
Let’s be honest: nutritional value isn’t exactly what comes to mind when you think of instant ramen. But adding your own vegetables to instant ramen is a great way to add some more nutritional value to it. Some common add-ons include leafy vegetables like spinach or bok choy, and you can also add some defrosted frozen vegetables like peas or corn. Adding vegetables to your ramen ups its nutritional value while also adding some different texture.
Not exactly the first thing to come to mind when you’re thinking of things to add to your ramen, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. The canned pork product is actually pretty popular in Asia, so it’s another great way to add some protein to your instant ramen. Spam also comes in a variety of flavors, so there’s room for you to experiment with different tastes to see what works best with your preferences.
10. Dried seaweed
Sheets of dried seaweed are pretty commonly found in ramen bowls served at restaurants. You can try to imitate this practice at home by using packages of tried seaweed snacks (typically found in the Asian section of grocery stores) and including pieces of dried seaweed in your instant ramen by crumbling it in or cutting it into strips.