There are articles upon articles devoted to what you can do with ramen. Even entire websites. When I cook ramen, though, it’s usually because I’m too lazy to actually prepare anything. Recipes that involve cutting vegetables or cooking meat are usually out. Still, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few ingredients I like to throw in every once in a while.
Rice Vinegar and Mirin
This one came from the Momofuku cookbook that I found at my public library. There’s an honest-to-goodness ramen broth recipe in there, which is way too involved for me but still looked delicious. The main thing that I took out of the recipe was that there is a magical substance called mirin that has enough sweetness to balance out the tang of soy sauce. Seriously, mirin is great: it’s this rice cooking wine that costs $3-5 if you get the cheap Kikkoman kind.
I don’t know how I ended up substituting rice vinegar for soy sauce. Maybe it was because another recipe, the sushi rice recipe in one of my cookbooks, mixed rice vinegar and mirin as a sauce. Maybe I was making ramen one day and I didn’t have any soy sauce. In any case, I tried rice vinegar-mirin ramen one day and loved it.
What I do is I make stovetop ramen in a little saucepan. Proportions vary, but I mix the vinegar, the mirin, and the water in the pan before adding the noodles and the flavor packet. Then I boil it as per usual.
Adding an Egg
I learned this trick long before I learned about the existence of mirin. It started as a fried egg on top of the noodles. Then I learned that you can boil an egg in ramen, and that was the best thing ever. Less dishes to wash, more flavor in the broth.
So, Ultimately, This Is How You Make It
- Rice Vinegar ($3 for 12 oz)
- Mirin ($5 for 10 oz.)
- Egg ($2 for a dozen)
- Top Ramen ($2 for a dozen)
- Mix the rice vinegar, the mirin, and the water in the saucepan. Add noodles, bring to a boil.
- When the mixture is actually bubbling, crack an egg on the side of the saucepan and drop it in.
- Keep boiling the ramen. If you’re impatient, stir the egg around to get little wisps of cooked egg in the broth. If not, let it sit for a while.
- When the egg is cooked, take the ramen off heat and let it sit for a while.
- Consume immediately.
A note about boiling vinegar: it can leave a strong smell in the air. So if you share a kitchen with several people, ask them if they are okay with the vinegar fumes. If not, open a window when you cook, or use a fan.