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Ramen Hacks 101

How to Spice Up One of the Simplest College Foods

These hacks can change to help needs of different types of diets. These include gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

Time: Will vary depending on your ingredients, but at the very least it will take about five to 10 minutes.

For only a soup base and noodles, you will need:

  • A package of ramen noodles. Throw away the seasoning pack or save it to use with something else. Buy in bulk if your don't want to go to the store every time you want noodles.
    • Gluten-free? Get rice noodles or other gluten-free option.
  • Miso Paste: Costs about $3 and it lasts for a long time in the fridge.
    • Pro-tip: It is cheaper at an Asian grocery store/market if you have access to one.
  • Stock cube/paste. Around $2 at some grocery stores.
  • Water: About 2 to 3 cups for one portion depending on how big your bowl is. Remember, if you're adding in extras, the liquid level will rise.

If you want extras, some good options to mix and match at your preference/budget/convenience are:

Vegetables

  • Bean Sprouts: Super cheap at the grocery store. Throw in a handful and call it a day. To have it be a little crunchy throw it in the last two minutes of cooking
  • Snow Peas: Same as Bean Sprouts, extras can be frozen.
  • Onion: To have it be more tender, use half or a quarter of a white onion cut into thin slices, and tossed in right away. Freeze the rest if you're not going to be using it within the next few days.
  • Green Onion/Scallions: 1 to 2 will be good for one portion. Slice into thin disks. You can also use both the tops (green) and the the bottoms (white), but that is to your preference.
  • Bok/Pak Choi: Much cheaper in Asian markets. Cut off the very bottom part and then cut the pieces in half length-wise. Throw them in at the beginning if you like them softer, or in the last three minutes if you still want them a bit crunchy.
  • Spinach: Put in a handful whenever. Spinach can also be used frozen and if often cheaper to either buy it already frozen or buy fresh in bulk. You can store it fresh and it'll last for a long time.
  • Shredded Carrot: Can shred yourself or buy pre-shredded and freeze whatever is left over.
  • Corn: Use frozen.
  • Mushrooms: slice thinly or buy pre-sliced. Add to broth toward the beginning.

Protein

  • Tofu: Silken tofu is usually the best option for this. You can use whatever it is you have/can afford. Cut into small cubes and add whenever you'd like.
  • Soft-Boiled Egg
  • Chicken: Use leftover cooked chicken to add to your soup or slice a raw chicken breast thinly and poach it at a gentle simmer in the broth for seven to 10 minutes or until it is white and opaque. It does take a little extra time, but you don't have to do anything while it cooks and this will add extra flavor. Pre-marinated chicken is good for this as well (look for "Asian" flavors like soy, sesame, ginger, garlic, chili, etc.) It is more expensive/time-consuming if you're marinating it yourself.
  • Shrimp: Use pre-cooked frozen shrimp to save time and dump in a handful. Buy the frozen stuff in bulk. Or with like with the chicken, poach raw shrimp in the broth until they are pink and opaque.

Additional Flavorings

  • Garlic: Either use a garlic crusher or toss in thin slices into the pan. Put it in with a little bit of vegetable or sesame oil for about 2 minutes before you add your liquid. You can also buy pre-crushed frozen garlic that comes in small cubes and pop them straight into whatever you're making. The pre-prepared stuff is more expensive than buying bulbs of garlic, but it will last you a while. It also saves a lot of time and energy.
  • Ginger: Same as garlic.
  • Chilis: Chopped into thin disks. Take out the seeds and white part inside the chili if you do not like too much spice. Add as a garnish or into the broth if you want it to be spicier overall.
  • Hot Sauce: Use your favorite brand. Anything works.
  • Chili Oil: Can get for about $1.50. Can drizzle in a couple teaspoons on top when my soup is all done.
  • Soy Sauce: Light or dark is fine. Add as much or as little as you like
  • Sesame Oil: This is quite strong, so a little goes a long way. Use about a teaspoon
  • Fish sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine/mirin/sake: These are great flavors but may be harder to find and tend to be more expensive. Use about 1 to 2 teaspoons if you have it.
  • Cilantro: Throw the stalks into your broth and strain them out afterward or use the leaves as a garnish.
  • Lemon/Lime: Squeeze to taste.
  • Sesame Seeds: Sprinkle on top.

Method

  1. Prep whatever ingredients you're using. If you are not using any, skip to step two.
  2. Bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil. If you have an electric kettle, this will make the process much quicker.
  3. Add in your stock cube and miso paste and cook for about two minutes until they dissolve. You may want to stir a couple times to help it along.
  4. Add in whatever vegetables/protein/additional flavorings listed above and cook to your liking.
  5. Add noodles and cook for three minutes.
  6. Put food in bowl. Garnish as you like.

And you're finished! Put any leftover soup you may have into a Tupperware or thermos and take it to work/school the next day. You can also save it for up to three to four days in the fridge and heat it up when you're hungry.

Another pro-tip: You can make the soup base in bulk and freeze whatever you don't use. When you want soup but don't want to go through the whole process again, stick the frozen soup in the microwave/melt in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, add in your noodles/extras and you're good to go.

Enjoy!

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