Let’s be real. If you don’t have some brand of dehydrated noodles packed with MSG in your cupboard, stuffed in a drawer, or under your bed, you are clearly not a college student. To the youngins who may be reading Spoon and still applying to colleges, just know that when you find yourself in a daze after multiple consecutive all-nighters eating only Maruchan ramen, you made it.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the sweet, salty goodness of those silky noodles straight from the packet to the bowl — but there are definitely ways to make it better. I’m sure all of you have your secrets to a better bowl of the bottom of the college food pyramid. Any Tabasco for those cup ramen? Heck yeah.
I am here to help those who are in need of a better bowl of ramen, but just don’t know how.
Vegetables like baby spinach, watercress, bean sprouts, thinly sliced cabbage, and scallions (the list goes on) are great additions. Drop them in and they will wilt in seconds. A pretty bowl of veggies will make you feel proud about eating ramen. Tell your mom you ate some veggies and she will be, too.
2. Thinly-Sliced Meats
So easy, but so good. Just slice up the meat of your choosing and cook it in the broth while the noodles simmer and soften up. This way you have some muscle food.
Bacon and ramen, need I say more? Fry up some bacon bits or strips and use the fat to enrich the broth. I will let the bacon do the talking here.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein, and the fact that they are delicious makes it even better. You can soft-boil, hard-boil, or poach, and it will always be great. Add some bacon and you have breakfast ramen.
Sriracha has become a craze, and for good reason. Put it on your bagel. Put it on your pizza. Put it on your barbecue. Literally everything. The spicy garlickiness will tantalize those taste buds and clear your sinuses, too.
6. Sesame and Chili Oil
Splash a bit of sesame or chili oil (or both) and you have a shimmering bowl of ramen with an aroma that will make you feel so professional. Look at how this bowl shines!
7. American Cheese
This last one is a bit of a new obsession of mine ever since Roy Choi came out with his definition of a perfect ramen. Gooey and delicious noodles never hurt anyone, especially your wallet.
Take this guide and run with it. Even the most ramen-knowledge-deprived college kid can transform into a less ramen-knowledge-deprived college adult who can at least make ramen taste and look great. Use any of these ingredients, and your ramen will shine amongst the crowd.
Finally, do take a chance on the cheese. It will change everything you know. Everything.