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Culinarily Curious: Fueled by ramen? Here’s a recipe so you can get creative with that boring block of noodles

Posted by Alex Pearlman  February 14, 2012 05:46 PM

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ramen noodle packaged.jpgBy Anthony Howard

Whether as late-night study fuel or a quick lunch at work, chances are that you've eaten your fair share of packaged ramen noodle soup; it's a convenient and cheap way to get a meal in. When I was younger, I ate it as an after-school snack and thought it was delicious. As I got older and became a food snob, my go-to cup of warm, starchy goodness started to seem banal, bland, and boring. Now, a few years later and, for the most part, financially independent, I see the value in that ubiquitous block of pasta.

But just because your taste buds (or, let’s be honest, your budget) are crying out for this easy and inexpensive dining option doesn’t mean you have to stick with the basic “heat and eat” recipe. Ramen is like a blank canvas, only better because you can eat it: Just as a little paint and creativity turn that white square into a work of art, some vegetables, protein, and additions of your own will turn those dull, dried noodles into a bistro-style meal without breaking the bank. The following recipe is my favorite way to jazz up my ramen.

CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE STIR-FRIED RAMEN

ramen stir-fry.jpgIngredients:

1 package ramen noodles
1 ½ cups chopped vegetables (I like bell peppers, eggplant, and snap peas)
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
4 ounces chicken breast (optional)
Dash paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for sautéing

Method:

  1. If you’re using the chicken breast, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breast, season with salt and pepper, and bake for 25 minutes, or until it's cooked thoroughly. Meanwhile, julienne the bell peppers and eggplant into quarter-inch-thick slices, and slice the snap peas in half width-wise.
  2. Place the chicken stock in a medium saucepan over high heat, and wait until it boils.
  3. Heat a sauté pan with a little oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute, taking care not to burn it.
  4. Add the snap peas, eggplant, and bell peppers to the sauté pan. Add a dash of paprika (and salt and/or pepper if you wish), and continue to cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.
  5. Once the stock is boiling, place the ramen in the stock, and cook it until its al dente. The process should take about 90 seconds.
  6. Drain the ramen, but set aside ¾ of a cup of the stock.
  7. Add the ramen and stock to the sauté pan. Mix to combine all the ingredients, and cook everything for an additional minute.
  8. Remove the chicken breast from the oven, slice it, and place it on top of your ramen mixture.
That recipe might seem like a lot of work for ramen, but prep is key: Buy your favorite vegetables ahead of time, cut them up for the week, and refrigerate them in plastic containers so the cooking process won’t be as daunting. Sure, your ramen may cost a dollar or so more (or a bit extra if you add meat), but it will be much more satisfying. You might even look forward to ramen night!

What's your favorite way to eat ramen?

'Culinarily Curious' is TNGG Boston's column on all things food, written by Anthony Howard.

Photos by pinprick (top) and yesmorelight (bottom) (Flickr)

About Anthony -- I'm a 22-year-old Massachusetts native -- grew up in the 'burbs and now spend my young adult life in the city. I am passionate about cooking and currently assistant manage a restaurant kitchen in Kendall Square. Let's just say that when I invite friends over for dinner parties, no one ever turns me down.

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This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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