Chinese instant noodles played a fairly important role when I was growing up. When I was in high school, both my parents worked. When I came home from school I usually have to prepare my own lunch. Most of the time, it involves one packet of instant noodles.
Most people associate instant noodles as college student's food because it is so easy to cook, or poor people's food because it is so cheap. However, with some creativity and extra ingredients, you can create a great variety of yummy Chinese soups using instant noodles. Experiment to create your own unique noodle soups.
Most instant noodles are actually instant ramen noodles. Instant ramen noodles is one of the most convenient Asian food ever invented. It is also the quickest way to learn the basics of cooking Chinese noodle soup. Everything you need is in a single packet. The noodles, the soup base packet, and the instructions on the packaging. All you need is a growling stomach.
I don't really like instant ramen noodles on its own. I like to add additional ingredients. Things like eggs, peas, carrots, bok choy, lettuce, cabbage, fish balls, minced meat, fish and etc. Most of the time, I just throw everything in, but sometimes, I use a little bit more time and imagination.
Another of my favourite combination is bok choy with meatballs.
Instant noodles can also be fried. Boil the noodles in some hot water for about 1 minutes or till the strands loosen. Duck into some cold water to stop the cooking and drain. Toss with a little oil to prevent sticking. It can now be used for chow mein.
It can also be used as a wrapper, like this next recipe.
Instant ramen noodles was invented by Momofuku Ando in Japan in 1958. They are actually precooked ramen noodles deep-fried and dried.
Deep frying and drying noodles is not a new technique.Noodles have been deep-fried and dried for preservation and storage purposes since the Qing dynasty (mid 19th century) in China. You can still find traditional dried noodles in the supermarkets' Asian dried goods section although they are not sold as instant food. If you are in a Western country, you can find traditional dried noodles in an Asian convenience or grocery store.
There have been health concerns over instant noodles. The soup base has always been accused of being too salty and filled with sodium monoglutamate (MSG). Nobody says you got to empty the entire sachet, I almost always use only half.
Some people claimed that instant noodles is coated with wax. This is not true but cooking the noodles separately can still be a good practice.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the noodle square and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove and dunk into cold water if you want a springier texture. Drain. Open the seasoning packs and place them into a soup bowl. Pour boiling water over them and stir to mix. Add the cooked noodles.
There are many brands and variety of instant ramen noodles. See this blog for loads of reviews.
Different countries seem to have different big brands. The top names in Asia are Maggi, Nissin, Nong Sim, Koka, Myojo and Maruchan.
I grew up with Myojo and Maggi but recently found Nissin and Nong Sim to be quite good. The variety of instant ramen noodles in Singapore is growing steadily. Each country has also infused its own national flavour into the instant noodles. From simple chicken soup and sesame seed oil to tom yum, curry, laksa, kimchi and many more.
Besides instant ramen noodle soups, there are also instant udon noodle soup on the market. Instead of dried ramen noodle in the packet, you get udon noodle. Not dried but vacuum-packed. Comes with the soup base mix too.