Recently, several videos have popped up on YouTube of people completing the Fire Noodle Challenge. What is the Fire Noodle Challenge, you ask? South Korean company Samyang Food released an instant ramen called Buldak Bokkeum Myun, which translates to “fire chicken stir-fried noodles.” They’re reputed to be insanely spicy, so we decided to try the challenge for ourselves.
Meet the Challengers:
Tabitha is a baking enthusiast who loves her spicy food—to a degree—and her ramen. Favorite spicy treat? Definitely Shin Ramyun.
Ariel loves to bake and decorate cakes almost as much as she loves to eat them. She can’t live without spicy food—especially her family’s homemade salsa. She hopes to try a ghost pepper one day (or maybe just a nibble of one so she doesn’t die).
Before the Challenge:
First, we gave ourselves a pre-challenge spice tolerance rating.
Tabitha: “It’s probably around a 5/10, but it’s probably gone down since moving to Davis (California).”
Ariel: “I would say a 7/10; Mexicans know spice, after all.”
Once we finished making our ramen, it was time to take the challenge. The Fire Noodle Challenge is technically supposed to be eating one package as fast as possible, but since we paused in-between bites to take photos, we didn’t actually follow the rules of the challenge. We’re rebels.
Tabitha: Just look at that orange color! Okay, so the first bite really isn’t that bad. It’s definitely spicy, but I don’t think the burn really hits until at least bite number three. After a few bites, there’s a raging fire in your mouth. So. Much. Spice. The ramen has flavor, but the burning takes away from the “chicken” flavoring. It’s also so spicy that you stop paying attention to how the ramen actually tastes.
Ariel: Tabitha kept warning me about how spicy it was going to be, but I knew, or I thought I knew, that I could handle spice pretty dang well. When the moment of truth had arrived there was no backing out. I took a bite and stopped to fully take in the spice. Then nothing. Still nothing…OH MY GOD THIS IS SO SPICY.
I did my best to play cool, which totally worked because Tabitha was quite impressed by how well I was handling myself. That is, until I started choking. Anyway, the ramen actually tasted really good, although I completely forgot that it was supposed to taste like chicken.
Tabitha: That, ladies and gentlemen, was a true first reaction.
By the end of the challenge my mouth was definitely numb, even after the burning subsided. My lips were a vibrant shade of red, my eyes were tearing up, and my hairline was starting to shed small beads of sweat. This ramen does not mess around.
Honestly, I think it would be easier to try and eat it as fast as possible. Taking breaks between bites was not the greatest idea; the breaks allowed the spiciness to settle in our mouths in the worst possible way. Water also makes the burning so much worse. The temporary cooling of the water vanishes instantly upon swallowing and the burning returns ten times stronger. Trust me, do not drink water.
Ariel: Toward the end of the bowl, I had to start taking this challenge seriously. That’s right, the beanie came off and the hair went up. I’m proud to say that I sacrificed fashion for food, as should always be the case.
My eyes watered and my nose ran, but I came nowhere near Tabitha’s reaction as I watched her practically keel over from the heat. I told her not to drink water. Did she listen? No. Maybe next time she’ll take my advice. Dairy products kill spice, water definitely enhances it.
I can easily see why the real challenge involves eating the ramen as fast as you can because taking breaks in between bites made the spice 1000 times worse. So technically, our challenge was harder. What overachievers we are.
In the end, we survived. Were we a little worse for wear? Our watery eyes and orange, flaming mouths can answer that question. If you want to try this at home, beware: only the strong survive.