Friday, April 16, 2010

Ramen noodles: From cheap to chic

Grilled Ramen Photo

I've had phases of living super-frugally; to the point where ramen becomes the main staple in my diet.

As a nutrition student, I advise against that. Not only do you consume massive amounts of white flour (almost empty calories - no fiber, little vitamins, etc) but that packet is loaded with about two days' worth of salt!

But, that being said, we can't just give up on all of our treats. So I still enjoy a ramen on occasion. And now that I am not depending on it to sustain me, I can experiment all I want. I've been looking at unique ramen recipes, and this is my favorite: Grilled Ramen.

Anyone who's been barbecuing with me lately will have at least heard of the joys of this odd companion to standard burgers and hotdogs. And for vegetarians, it can make an excellent entree!

I try to give credit where it is due, so here's the link to the recipe I based mine on:
Crazy Ramen Recipes - Click here to see the original

Now, on to Grilled Ramen:

Recipe for two servings (two servings per "cake" of ramen)

1 package Ramen, your preferred flavor/brand
1 T. Sugar or Sugar Substitute
2 T. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1 T. Lime Juice
1 T. Peanut Butter (crunchy or creamy)
1/4 c. Cold Water (I use tap water... it's fine)

Optional Garnishes: Chopped Scallions, Sesame Seeds, Steamed Vegetables, Grilled Meat, Poached Egg, Omelet Slices, Pickled Ginger, Kimchi... use your imagination.

Combine the water, ramen packet, sweetener, soy sauce, red pepper, juice, and peanut butter. Whisk it well.

Start the grill - once it's heated, you should be ready to go!

Put the ramen cake in a container that is just barely big enough to hold it - a square sandwich sized storage container works for me - and pour over the liquid mixture. After ten minutes, flip it over so both sides get soaked well. Remove it from the marinade once it's moist, but still holds together. Lift it with a fork every 10 minutes to check.

I prefer to leave mine in for about 10 minutes per side for Maruchen or the other small rectangular ramen, and about 30 minutes total for the big round ramen cakes.

Once the ramen is soaked, the grill should be good and hot. Don't put the ramen on the hottest part of the grill - you want to char it a bit, not incinerate it.

You can make them restaurant style, and mark it on the hot portion, then move it to the edges to finish, but few have the patience for that.

Watch them carefully. If you are going to shut the lid, check every 5-7 minutes, so the charring doesn't get out of hand. Turn it over when it's cooked enough to start to meld together, and is a little blackened on the bottom.

Once you've flipped to the second side, decide what to do with the marinade. You can put it in a pan and heat it up to make a sauce, or you can add boiling water and serve the noodles "au jus".

Garnish and dig in!