Cooking with CoCo: Spice up your bland, tasteless instant noodles with veggies
CoCo Courtois, The Oklahoma Daily
We all have had Ramen. It’s cheap, easy to cook and tastes OK ... sort of. But after a while, a meal of watery, tasteless noodles and powdered seasoning might bore you. It bored me.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to bore you. Those noodles can be used for so much more.
With a few vegetables, ramen can turn into a delicious, homemade Chinese noodle dish that will make you question the dishes you eat in your local Asian restaurants.
To revamp your ramen into a fresh dish for two, here’s what you need:
• A pack of instant noodles per person
• An onion
• A green bell pepper
• Salt and pepper
Now, here’s what you do with those ingredients:
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in your noodles for 2-3 minutes. Once the noodles are tender, remove them and drain.
- Chop up your onion and brown it in a frying pan with butter or oil. I recommend sesame oil. You don’t want to turn the heat on too high when you start to brown the onions. Browning should be a slower process so the onions have time to sweat and increase their flavor. Make sure you’re browning for a few minutes.
- Once the onions start to color, chop up the green pepper and add it to the pan.
- When they begin to get caramelized, add the powdered seasoning that comes with the noodles — beef or pork flavors work well for this recipe — and salt and pepper to your taste.
- Now you can add the noodles into the frying pan, give it a good stir, and let the noodles simmer at a low heat for 10-15 minutes. You even can add some soy sauce if you have any on hand. The noodles will soak up the sauce and seasoning while they simmer, giving them a stronger flavor.
Now you’re done. Take out your chopsticks — give it a try, even if you aren’t that skilled — and enjoy your own version of Chinese noodles.
After you’ve mastered that, you can change it up a bit and try different takes on this recipe.
For a meaty variant, throw in some chicken. Exchange the green bell pepper for a red or yellow pepper. Do you like your dishes with a little spice? Try adding some curry to give your noodles that extra kick.
This is just one example of the many ways you can shake up your typical noodle meals without breaking the bank.
Another cheap and easy meal can be made with pasta. It’s useful to cook a bunch at the beginning of the week and keep it in a plastic storage container. When you get hungry, throw it in a skillet with a few slices of bacon. The bacon grease will revive the cold pasta and add some flavor.
After that, you can pour a sauce of your choice over the pasta and bacon. Then you can add some meat — I recommend ground beef or sausage for the flavor, and they can be bought frozen in bulk. If meat isn’t in the budget, add a shredded cheese of your choice and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer for five to 10 minutes. Like the previous recipe, this will allow the pasta to soak up the flavors.
Whether you change it up and branch out to other pastas or stick to the basics, the important thing to remember is this recipe makes an affordable and delicious meal from an average package of instant noodles. It’s perfect for a student budget and more importantly it’s delicious.
CoCo Courtois is an exchange student from France studying journalism.