Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Joys of Ramen

Ah, ramen noodles. The bane of every college student, everywhere. In fact, it's almost like a bonding thing, that point in life where you're so poor you're subsisting mainly on ramen noodles three times a day. It brings us all closer together.

Yet, somehow I missed that experience. I mean, we had ramen as a kid around the house because I know from experience my favorite flavor is chicken. When I grew up and went to college, I never had that point of ramenness that all others seemed to talk about. Mostly because I went to a University where someone had the bright idea to install convenience stores attached to the dining halls and what's more, they had the absolutely brilliant idea of allowing students to use meal plan money in them. As a result, I spent a good chunk of my college experience eating things from Amy's Kitchen, Nature's Nectar and other amazing super natural and organic and more or less good for you brands. All for the low, low price of free. (ok, not free exactly, I did pay for the meal plan money after all.) In fact, I probably ate better in college than I do now, seeing as how once you graduate and realize what all that amazing food costs in real money, it suddenly doesn't seem quite as worth it.

The point of this all is that only recently have I learned the joys of eating ramen, and I'm not talking about boiling it up and throwing it in a cup. When I was a young lass, you see, I was never much interested in household chores. I preferred the outdoor work. My mother despaired that I would ever learn certain all important skills, but I must have absorbed something through osmosis because I definitely cook in her style. I call it Doctor cooking.

It all started with a couple of Youtube videos I stumbled upon. My husband laughs at me for spending time watching people play video games, but unbeknownst to him, I watch a lot more than that. Anyway, the first one showed a couple making "Crispy Noodles" with ramen and the second showed a guy frying ramen with eggs. And I mentally kicked myself and thought "Why didn't I think of that," because I'd fried rice before to make a dish affectionately known in our house as "Hot Dog Fried Rice." But never in all my days did I think of frying the noodles. My favorite food at the Chinese restaurant is Lo Mein.

So the wheels in my head began turning and that's where doctor cooking comes in. Following a recipe is great, but sometimes you don't have exactly what you need. So when I'm trying to figure out what to feed us poor college young adult adults, my brain works something like this:

What do I have in the kitchen? Tuna. Ok, well, what can I use the tuna for? Tuna salad. Great. What goes in tuna salad? celery, mayo. I don't have celery but I have corn and mayo and garlic and onion... and on it goes until I've figured out what we're having for dinner that day or the next. I might add that I generally don't do this while I'm standing in front of the cupboards either. It's while I'm showering, doing laundry and watching those Youtube videos my husband likes to tease me about.

So I saw these videos and I thought to myself. This is great! But I know how to make it better. We have leftover chicken and soy sauce. I'll go ahead and add the eggs. I can sautee some onions and...OH! we have frozen veggies. By the time I got out of the shower, I knew exactly what I was going to make. And let me tell you what, I was pretty happy with the results. Because I was so pleased with this dressed up Ramen, I wanted to share it with you, though it's not a recipe really because it's meant to be played with.

Put the ramen in water on the stove. You're not going to boil them, you just want them to get hot enough that they break apart. In the meantime I chopped half an onion and put it in a pan with some olive oil. While that was cooking, I began picking cooked chicken off the carcass (whole chickens were on sale at Aldi for 95 cents a pound last week.) When the noodles were broken up, I drained and rinsed them in cool water before adding them to the onions. I added a little more olive oil and then two eggs. I let the eggs cook a bit while I added soy sauce, about half of the spice packet that comes with the ramen and garlic powder. Next, I added the frozen veggies (we don't like them soggy so didn't want them to cook as long) and the chicken. Then I basically tasted and tweaked until it was hot through and I liked the flavor. It was amazing! I sent the leftovers with my husband for lunch today so am waiting for his verdict. Hopefully it's as popular as hot dog fried rice.

If you're curious, here are the original videos I watched. As you can see, I kind of combined them a bit.

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