Did you know… Vietnam is among top countries that consumes instant noodles (or instant ramen) the most? It’s not surprising, and in my humble guessing, my dad and I contributes a lot to that. My dad is a big fan of noodles. He loves all types of noodles: pho, rice noodles, udon noodles, mung bean vermicelli, rice vermicelli noodles, instant noodles… I guess I inherited that, haha!
During the super busy period in the last two weeks of March, I did not have time to cook, and instant noodles temporarily became some of my meals. In order to make it less unhealthy and less boring, I “followed” my dad’s cooking style and here is how he upgrades his instant noodle game!
Normally, we will just follow the instruction on the package, namely add noodle and seasoning pack to a bowl, pour boiling water in, cover and wait for about 3 minutes. My dad… he didn’t like doing it that way! He would make his own “broth” from whatever leftover soup we had for dinner and the seasoning pack (usually in a Vietnamese meal, we have a vegetable soup as one of the side dishes). He would parboil the noodles twice to remove additives or artificial food coloring. He would also add several toppings (from leftover food) and vegetables to his noodle. Quite… complicated for instant ramen… but at the end, his bowl of noodles is visually attractive, flavorful and way more delicious!
So.. what side soup could be used for the “broth”?
Any side soup dishes in your daily Vietnamese-style meals could be used as the broth. Remember the vegetable broth and other broths from my old posts? Yes, you can definitely apply that for the base “broth” of your instant ramen.
Alternatively, you can create your own: some meat or mushrooms, some vegetables, and some basic seasoning. For example, I made some simple broth/soup from pork strips, broccoli and carrots to upgrade my own instant ramen game. And not just that, this soup goes well with rice noodles or vermicelli, mung bean vermicelli. It really reminds me of “Bun moc” made by my grandma that I once mentioned in the post about my vacation in Vietnam.
Literally any kinds of protein can be the toppings: from thin-sliced beef, beef balls, meatballs, grilled chicken, char siu pork for meat lovers to mushroom, tofu, vegetables and eggs for vegetarian/vegan friends. For a meat version, my favorite go-to is either thin-sliced beef or beef balls with an egg cracked directly into the ramen. For a vegetarian version, I love to have shiitake mushrooms in my noodles. My dad’s usual topping is the grilled chicken as he could easily get some leftover chicken from our family’s diner. Nevertheless, having some kinds of protein in the ramen has already upgraded the game.
What’s about vegetables? Green cabbage, carrots, broccoli, bok choy, napa cabbage,… are great options. Except broccoli and carrots, no need to pre-cook or parboil other leafy vegetables, just add them in right before taking the noodles pot off the heat. The vegetables will be cooked perfectly. Among these vegetables options, I love bok choy the most as they are so versatile in most recipes.
And finally, don’t forget to sprinkle some ground black pepper and chop up some cilantro, spring onion as garnish for your noodles!
That was how I upgraded my instant noodles/ramen game following my dad’s style! It really hits the spot and makes me miss my dad, too!
How do you like to enjoy the instant ramen? Let me know, pleaseeee!
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