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.
Recipe 1: Chinese instant noodles with egg and mixed vegetables
One of my most common additions is an egg and one cup of frozen mixed vegetables.
1 packet of instant noodles
1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables
Boil 300ml water in a pot, add the frozen mixed vegetables, and boil for a minutes or 2
Add the instant noodles and boil till the noodles strands come apart
Open the soup mixture pack included in the instant noodle pack and pour it into the pot.
Crack and add the egg. Break the egg yolk and stir it around. Or beat the egg first before adding to the pot
Let the noodles, egg and vegetables cook for a while longer
Remove and serve with some sesame seed oil
Another of my favourite combination is bok choy with meatballs.
Recipe 2: Chinese instant noodles with bok choy and meatballs
1 pack of instant noodles
100g ground pork
2-3 stalks bok choy
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp cornstarch
Wash the bok choy and slice them in half
Marinate the ground pork with the soy sauce and pepper
Add the cornstarch and mix well
Shape the ground pork into small balls. If you are using your hands, wet it before touching the pork. Or you can use a spoon
Boil 300ml water in a pot and cook the meat balls
When the meat balls float to the top, add the instant noodles and bok choy
Cook till the noodles and bok choy are done
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.
Recipe 3: Deep fried chicken and noodle rolls
100g instant noodles
500g chicken nuggets
1 egg yolk
1 tsp salt
Bring water to a boil and cook instant noodles until medium well and drain
Take a bit of the noodles and spread out a little in your hand and wrap a piece of nugget with the noodle
Coat with a bit of egg yolk and cornstarch
Heat a wok of oil and deep fry the chicken pieces over low heat or for about 7 minutes
Serve with salad dressing
A Little History
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.
Many Different Brands
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.
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