Dried Ramen-My Secret "Naughty Food"

Happy Friday, my fellow foodies!

Every Chef that I know has a secret "naughty food". This is a prepackaged/instant type food that you would think that we shun, and very likely will never admit to enjoying. As a Chef, though, I know we all have at least one food that we will never admit to the public that we love. I have heard chef friends say they love everything from Campbell's Chunky Beef Stew, to Progresso Tomato Soup. Pop rocks, pork rinds, pickled eggs, Kraft mac and cheese, hot pockets, moon pies, DAK (enter the cube) canned Ham...just to name a few. Mine is dried ramen noodles.

Please keep an open mind here. I know lots of people who lived countless months eating nothing but the ubiquitous noodle in college, and have sworn upon entering their first job in the adult world to never ever again slurp up another strand of ramen as long as they live. I get that this is a tough sell for you people in particular, but hear me out...Momofoku Ando was the inventor of the Instant ramen noodle. He is considered a Hero in Japan.

In 1958, Mr. Ando — virtually penniless after a credit association he served as chairman went bankrupt — began experimenting with ways to prepare flavored noodles by simply adding hot water.
The idea stemmed from an experience a decade earlier, when Japan was still ravaged by postwar poverty. In “The Story of the Invention of Instant Ramen,” an autobiography published in 2002, Mr. Ando told of walking through the rubble-strewn streets of Osaka.
“I happened to pass this area and saw a line 20, 30 meters long in front of a dimly lit stall from which clouds of steam were steadily rising,” he wrote. “People dressed in shabby clothes shivered in the cold while waiting for their turn. The person who was with me said they were lined up for a bowl of ramen.”
“I realized that people were willing to wait patiently just for a bowl of ramen,” he said.
Ordinary unflavored noodles were not the solution; Mr. Ando insisted that his noodles be tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare. The problem was flavoring them without making them mushy. Using a secondhand noodle-making machine and a large wok, Mr. Ando sprinkled soup on the noodles with a watering can, then kneaded and loosened them by hand after letting them partly dry. “This allowed the noodles to soak up the soup on the outer layer,” he wrote. “I then dried the noodles so they would keep longer and could be easily prepared with boiling water.”
Born on March 5, 1910, in Taiwan while it was under Japanese occupation, Mr. Ando was a son of Taiwanese parents. When he was 23, he moved to Japan and, while a student at Ritsumeikan University, ran several clothing companies. In 1948, he started a company that produced salt; it changed its name to Nissin 10 years later. He is survived by his wife, Masako, two sons and a daughter.
Chicken was the prime ingredient in Nissin’s global success. “By using chicken soup, instant ramen managed to circumvent religious taboos when it was introduced in different countries,” Mr. Ando wrote. “Hindus may not eat beef and Muslims may not eat pork, but there is not a single culture, religion or country that forbids the eating of chicken.”
Nissin opened its first overseas operation, in California, in 1970. Besides Japan, it has plants in Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Hungary and Germany as well as in Lancaster, Pa.
In July 2005, the company vacuum-packed portions of instant noodles so that a Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, could have them on the space shuttle Discovery. Mr. Ando said at the time, “I’ve realized my dream that noodles can go into space.”

So with Mr. Ando, and all of my Japanese friends in mind, I want to share with you all my Yaki-Ramen-or PANFRIED RAMEN. Try this, and you will be shocked at how a few extra steps in preparation make this humble, inexpensive foodsource a near gourmet meal!!!

Yaki-Ramen
2 packages instant ramen
4 cups water
Sesame or veggie oil (sesame is better for this)
1 cup veggie of choice
1 cup(ish) of leftover meat or tofu cubes
2-3 Tbs. Soy sauce
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
pinch of 5 spice powder
1/4 cup water

1 egg, beaten and scrambled (optional)

Cook ramen 3 minutes in the 4 cups of water spiked with one package only of the instant flavoring packets provided. Drain the noddles and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
Heat 1-2 Tbs. of sesame oil in a large saute pan. Saute your veggies and leftover meat until they are heated through. Add the noodles and toss. Over medium high heat let the noodles sit still and brown on one side, 3-5 minutes. In the meantime-mix the soy sauce, Worcestershire, five spice, and 1/4 cup of water together.

Once the noodles are lovely and browned lightly, pour the sauce over the noodles and toss a few times to allow the liquid to be COMPLETELY absorbed. Add the egg and heat through. Serve immediately. YUM!!!
 A note: I serve my yaki-ramen with japanese pickles, such as sushi ginger, umeboshi, Gobo, pickled eggplant, etc...

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