I know I give ramen noodles a hard time, but I secretly love them. Like many people, they helped get me through college, and since then I've learned to put them to use as the secret ingredient behind many a quick and easy meal.
She doesn't know it, but I first learned the secret of "pumping up" ramen back when we were 18 and I watched one of my very best friends crack an egg in her instant noodles, sprinkle it with nutmeg and call it a meal. There's no rule that says you have to eat your ramen or cup noodles pure and out-of-the-package. Add some meat, or vegetables or even just an egg and suddenly you've nearly got yourself through dinner- or at least a quite decent lunch.
Of course, the best thing about ramen is the speed. Next to heat-and-eat udon, I don't think there's any other noodles out there that are ready to eat after only 3 minutes of boiling. So next time you're unsure what to throw together for dinner and you're reaching for that ramen packet, think about what quick and easy ingredients you have around that you can throw in to pump it up. You might be surprised what you come up with...
[Prep: 10min / Cook: 10min]
- 1/2 lb (250 grams) beef steak, any cut
- 2 packets beef ramen instant noodles (with seasoning packets)
- handful of baby carrots (about a cup)
- handful of snow or snap peas (about a cup)
- 1/2 can (about 4 oz) of water chestnuts
- dash pepper
- dash chili powder
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Put a couple cups of water in a pot and set to boil.
- Meanwhile, slice the beef into thin-ish strips.
- Heat a large saucepan or wok. Once heated, add the oil, followed by the beef.
- Add the ramen noodles to the water which should be boiling. Put the seasoning packets aside. If your ramen comes with chili powder, sprinkle it on the beef. Otherwise, add your own pepper and chili powder to the beef.
- While the beef browns, rinse the baby carrots and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them in half lengthwise again. Rinse the peas and throw them in with the beef whole, along with the sliced carrots.
- Slice the water chestnuts however you please and add to the pan as well. Stir fry the meat and veggies for a few minutes until the veggies become crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
- Strain the water from the noodles and add them to the stir-fry. Drizzle the soy sauce and the seasonings from the ramen packet on top. Give it a good stir to mix everything up, then turn off the heat.
- Ready to eat!
Recipe adapted from Simple One Dish,
Easy Asian Skillet and Quick 'n' Tangy Beef Stir-Fry
- Obviously, you can make this with an assortment of meats. Though if you decide to use pork or chicken instead, I recommend using the pork or chicken ramen packets.
- Part of what makes this recipe so quick and easy is the careful selection of easy-to-handle veggies. When using other veggies (particularly the popular broccoli), keep in mind that it will probably add to the prep time. Using a frozen variety will certainly help, but you may want to nuke the frozen veggies shortly in the microwave first, 'less you will need to stir-fry a bit longer. Alternatively, the original recipe says to use frozen veggies, but to boil them with the ramen before adding it all to the meat. Quite efficient, but boiled vegetables are icky.
- As mentioned, probably the only thing faster than ramen noodles are udon noodles- yummy, thick [also] Japanese noodles that are easy to find pre-cooked. Udon is most often eaten in soup, but I've used them in a similar manner in stir-frys with great results.