How a bowl of spicy ramen became my comfort food
I was introduced to Korean spicy noodles or ramen / ramyeon / ramyun during my university studies by my South Korean roommate in UK. Her name is Hyosun Kim, but she likes to be known as – Sun.
She often made ramen, her bowl filled with vegetables and eggs most of the time. She used a burnished metal pot to cook her noodles and ate it straight away.
This is called a Naembi, which translates to “casserole”. It is interesting how culturally important ramen is in Korea, that there is a special utensil to prepare it. In any case, I digress….
Back at Sun, whenever we passed each other in the shared kitchen in our apartment, she generously offered me a taste of her ramen. It was love at first sight because they were spicy and delicious. Not the kind of cold green sharpness I knew in Indian cooking, but a much stronger sweet but piercing flavor. She often paired her ramen with homemade kimchi. It was the sip of noodles and the crunch of nappa cabbage that made the whole meal so tempting, just to watch.
A shared love for ramen has brought us together, across cultures and geography. That was in 2017. Even today, every time I take the first bite of ramen, those happy memories come back.
How to make instant ramen?
Sun had said, “Just follow the instructions on the package and you will learn. I soon cooked egg ramen, veggie ramen, or just a bowl of soup ramen. Soon, ramen became my go-to meal, especially as the essay and thesis deadlines approached.
It’s simple – bring water to a boil, empty the two pouches – powdered soup and flakes, add the noodles and cook for two minutes. Remember not to break the noodle.
Do you want some eggs in it? Crack an egg (at room temperature) directly into the ramen pot when the noodles are almost done. Now leave it covered for 2 minutes. If you are adding meat and vegetables, sauté them in butter in a separate pan and add them to the ramen.
For a bowl of ramen without soup, cook the noodles and drain off excess water. Add the seasoning only after cooking and cover it with a lid for a minute. It turns out that there is no right or wrong way to make ramen; it’s about how you like it. For this you will need to read the instructions on the package first – just like what Sun said.
Two years passed and we were nearing the end of our studies. It was 2019. As we packed our bags, Sun looked forward to his home country, as I was to mine. We said goodbye to each other, promising to visit soon, not realizing that COVID-19 would be upon our doorstep soon.
However, before I left, I made sure that my bag had a super pack of Nongshim Instant Five Ramyeon with me. What if I can’t find it at home in India? What if I could never find an instant noodle as good as this ever again? I didn’t want to take the risk! It was sort of a food crisis.
Ramen in Dubai
Two years later, I moved to Dubai for an exciting new job, and I’m writing here about my first ramen experience because I found myself in the same place as my college days – looking for exciting new ways to prepare quick meals.
This time, I found myself surrounded by fellow fans of BTS (Korean group) and K-drama (Korean Television Drama). My editor once bought us jars of homemade kimchi, which I devoured for days, and another day she baked Korean vegetable pancakes with sweet potatoes and onions or Yachaejeon and we had it. bought. She also ordered the metal pot – Naembi, and I have now started eating ramyeon straight from it, just like Sun used to do.
After all of this, I just couldn’t resist the K-drama craze and started my binge-watching journey with the Netflix show – Start-up. And, of course, nothing better than a bowl of piping hot ramen to sip while looking at it, especially since today marks the start of World Noodle Week!
Here are some types of noodles you can try:
1. Soba: These noodles are made with buckwheat (soba) which gives it a special flavor. Some popular soba dishes are zaru soba, kake soba, and kitsune soba to name a few. Soba noodles have a soft brown color and dense texture.
2. Yakisoba: These noodles are made with wheat flour and just like ramen, are a recent creation that first appeared in Japan. Traditionally, they are served as fried noodles. There is the Yakisoba-pan in which they are served lengthwise on a hot dog bun, topped with pickled ginger and mayonnaise.
3. Somen: This is again a wheat based noodle and similar to udon noodles but much thinner. Somen is often served as a cold dish, especially in summer. Besides wheat flour and wheat, they are made from vegetable oil. Traditionally, they are served with a dip called tsuyu.
4. Udon noodles: These noodles are thick and chewy and the most popular noodles. Udon is made from wheat flour and is served cold in summer and hot in winter. It has a neutral flavor, which makes it ideal to accompany broths with various vegetables. They are versatile.
Ramen: A ramen is a noodle if it is made with wheat flour, salt, and alkaline water. Alkaline water gives it a unique taste, which makes it different from plain noodles. This water is called – kansui originally found in the lakes of Mongoli
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