Give your dehydrated noodles some much-deserved jazziness.

By Betty Gold
April 23, 2020

Quarantine cooking has a handful of characteristics in common with college cooking. If you’ve been subsiding off grilled cheese sandwiches, just learned how to make coffee for the first time, and/or have FaceTimed your mother more than once this week to inquire about the proper temperature to cook salmon, you’re not alone. Happy hour starts promptly at 5 p.m., slippers and sweatpants required, Netflix to follow. Feeling personally attacked by the number of people perfecting homemade sourdough, superstar birthday cakes, and from-scratch pizza dough in the pandemic? We get it. Scrappiness is a virtue right now; everyone is making do with what they have. And if what you have is ramen, we’re here for it. Here are five easy tips that will kick your next bowl of homemade noodles up a notch (yes, even better than the dorm room ramen you so gracefully refined in college).

Make miso broth.

Flavor packet? Fine. But miso paste = perfection. Next time you make ramen, skip the sodium-filled spice packet and use a spoonful of miso paste to flavor your broth instead. Miso will add a heavy hit of (salty, savory, seriously addictive) umami flavor to your ramen, plus it’s a natural source of gut-healthy probiotics. Look for miso paste at Japanese grocery stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and most mainstream supermarkets.

Stir fry the noodles.

So simple; so effective. Once your noodles have finished cooking, toss them into a wok or oiled pan and sauté them for a few minutes—add your veggies and protein too—before returning them to the broth.

Add extra sauce—and spice.

If you’re a fellow condiment hoarder, now is your time to shine. A swirl of soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and/or lime juice will all work wonders. For even more spice, add chili flakes. You can also add peanut butter (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it), fish sauce, ponzu, harissa, bacon fat, or any type of curry. Just keep in mind that if you’re adding something salty like soy sauce, consider cutting back on the spice packet to avoid over-seasoning your dish.

Put an egg on it.

You really can’t go wrong here. Drop a hard- or soft-boiled egg into the broth, stir in scrambled eggs, or finish your noodle bowl by topping it with a fried egg. If you plan ahead, you can cook your eggs in the same pot as your ramen. For hard-boiled, place raw eggs in a pot with cold water, bring them to a boil, then add your noodles. The eggs should be cooked perfectly by the time your noodles have softened (fish them out sooner for soft-boiled). You can also poach eggs in your ramen as it cooks, or beat an egg in a separate bowl before swirling it into the broth for egg drop ramen soup.

Pack it with protein and veggies.

The easiest way to make ramen more filling and nutritious is to add extra vegetables to the broth. Baby spinach, snap peas, shitake mushrooms, sautéed shallots, a handful of cabbage, your leftover frozen peas and carrots—it’s all fair game. Same goes for lean protein: shredded pork or chicken, ground turkey, and stir-fried tofu are all great options.