From The Straits Times    |

Instant noodles really do live up to their namesake – they are ridiculously fast and addictively scrumptious. Granted they might not be the healthiest of food, but beggars can’t be choosers right? Boasting an affordable price tag and a myriad of flavours, instant noodles are pretty much the perfect supper option (also good at any time of the day if you ask me) for all lazy people out there craving for something to fill their tummies while burning the midnight oil. And when you’re in the mood for something a little fancier, here are some quick recipes you can follow to pimp up your usual cup noodles into gourmet version of junk food. Okay, some of these quick hacks are hardly regarded as recipes, but the results are amazing.

Photo: Pakornkrit Khantaprab / 123rf

1. Vegetables

Okay fine. Instant noodles aren’t exactly square meals that provide you with all the nourishment and nutrients you need. How do you turn this junk food into a proper meal? Throw in some vegetables. Not only do they make you feel less guilty about nomming in the middle of the night, they help add texture to your noodles. For best results, throw in quick cooking vegetables that taste great raw like spinach, cabbage and beansprouts.

2. Sliced Cheese

The Americans love their mac & cheese, and the Koreans love their ramen and cheese, which is basically a savoury spicy equivalent. Throwing a slice of sandwich cheese (and even canned minced pork!) on the top and letting the steam melt the cheese will create strands of stringy goodness and a salty rich broth that’s strangely addictive. If you aren’t already acquainted with this then you really should start.

3. Pudding

Yes, you’ve heard us right. Mixing this dessert in your cup noodles was a food craze that swept the Taiwan food scene a while back. The pudding disintegrates into the broth, lending a milky sweetness that makes for a sweet-savoury combination that many swear by. If you are one who is unable to decide between having a main or dessert, why not try combining both?

4. Pre-cooked Meat

Up the protein level in your cup noodles by throwing some pre-cooked meat. And literally, anything goes – deli ham, sausages, shredded rotisserie chicken or canned minced meat. Let the hot water warm the meat through and you’ll have a much more filling meal that’s heartier and much better. Better yet, combine it with some leafy greens and top with a slice of cheese for the ultimate lazy cup noodle meal.

5. Swop The Sauce

If the devil of cup noodles lie in the seasoning pack that comes loaded with harmful MSG and preservatives, then omitting it out should do the trick (as atrocious sounding as it may be you’ve gotta stick with us on this). Cook your noodles and drain the water and stir in your favourite sauce instead. Pesto makes a great and slightly healthier twist with fresh herbaceous notes and a kick of cheese. Other options to consider include sriracha for spice lovers or leftover pasta sauce for a quick and cheap pasta-esque meal. Even peanut butter can be used to replicate a peanut noodle taste.

6. Turn It Into A Salad

This method involves zero cooking. You don’t even need hot water. Start off with a bed of your favorite greens or salad mix. Just throw together some shredded cabbage, scallions and julienned carrot sticks. Set aside your go-to salad dressing or whip up a quick one with olive oil, some cider vinegar, sugar and salt for something tangy. Crush up your uncooked ramen and sprinkle over the salad for a crispy crunch in every bite.

Photo: Yasuhiro Amano / 123rf

7. Make It A Frittata

Who said that frittatas are only for breakfast. Stir in your cooked instant noodles in a mixture of three eggs and whisk them together for the perfect fluffy base to your frittata. Build on the flavours and textures by whisking in your choice of green or meat and some cheese. Throw it in a bowl and bake it for a few minutes till the egg mixture cooks and what you have on hand is a fast and simple frittata that is great for a meal or a snack.

8. Overhaul The Flavours

Sure, the soup base that you have is pretty good. But nothing can come close to beating the authentic flavours of soup bases that’s not made from dissolving powder. Using the hot water as canvas, throw in different soup flavourings such as kimchi, tom yum paste, miso paste or even sesame oil to enhance flavors and make the broth that much more robust.

9. Top A Pie

Swop out the usual lump of mash potato for a unique experience with instant noodles. Throwing on a blanket of instant noodle will create a crispy and slightly burnt top that is crunchy and delectable, while the steam from the meat mixture will keep the bottom layer of the noodles moist and al dente. The result is a easy dish to make, but full of complicated textures and unique flavour combinations.

10. Make It Egg-citing

Throwing in an egg into the instant ramen equation will always give you a resounding ‘YES’ as the solution. And the beauty of it lies in its equally versatile usage. Fans of dry noodles can stir-fry the noodles with their egg for a glossy sheen and added layer of flavour. Others looking for a comforting bowl can do the egg-drop method or continually stirring when pouring in the egg mixture. Or top your ramen with an omelette or poached egg for something more unique.

11. Instant Ramen Pizza

The noodles might not exactly be the star that shine in a regular cup of instant noodles, but the instant ramen pizza subverts this notion, making the humble noodles the main base of the pizza. Just bowl your cooked noodles in a flat iron skillet and press the noodle down firmly to achieve a circle. Top it with some of your favorite pizza topping for the ultimate fusion food.


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