This is for latethink.
I meant to post this recipe long ago, after my Perfect Bowl of Ramen: Egg Version posted nigh onto two years ago, which is my third most-viewed post ever (2116! okay, so it wasn’t exactly viral). Ramen is eternal. Everything I said in that post about ramen and essentials like scallions still holds, so you can go read it there and up my views. You could even rate it. Jeezum crow, but my ratings have always been lousy. Except, of course, for my meta.
But back to ramen. This “recipe” grew out of something I discovered long ago, after a friend showed me that throwing mixed frozen vegetables and grated cheddar cheese into a bowl of ramen produced a meal that was a little more balanced and a lot more satisfying than ramen alone. I figured out the peanut butter substitution for the cheese pretty quickly, as ersatz Chinese. From there, the method has undergone about twenty years worth of tweaking. For a long time I did nothing but add that rather awful mixture of carrots, corn, and lima beans along with the peanut butter, topped by some good garlicky Asian cucumber salad (see further on). Then I got fancy and used stir-fry mixes with red peppers and water chestnuts. It doesn’t really matter what vegetables you use. You can even use fresh, if you have any. Romano beans are particularly good. Also brussel sprouts, if you like them. Mostly I stick to frozen baby peas, or broccoli. If you’re using fresh vegetables, you might want to start cooking them first, unless you like them al dente. You can stretch the package of noodles out to multiple servings with more stuff, if you cook it in a pot. But I’m going to document this as a single serving, done in one bowl in the microwave. Make sure it’s a big bowl, though.
Put in the microwavable bowl:
Scallions: you must have scallions (see the egg version for my discourse on this). If you don’t have at least one scallion, this is not worth making. Wait until you have a scallion. Preferably three, chopped.
Tomato: A fresh one, even if it’s tasteless winter version of a Roma. I’ve tried making this without a tomato. One night I tried substituting canned stewed tomatoes, which might have been okay except that they were Italian style, and the basil taste kind of threw me. The attempt using just catsup was a mistake. I only ate it because there was nothing else to eat. It’s possible to skip the tomato, if you’ve got enough scallions, but it’s just not the same. Chop the tomato.
Boil water in your electric tea kettle. Or the microwave. Or on your stove, if you have one. Stoves are good.
If you’re like me and don’t like long drippy noodles, hammer at
One package of ramen [the cheap kind. I’d use oriental flavor, but my big grocery store has stopped carrying it. I don’t want to know why, so I don’t ask, and get the shrimp flavor instead] by cracking it against the counter with the heel of your hand. Dump contents in bowl with white parts of the scallions and tomato, being sure to retrieve the aluminum foil packet of msg, essential to that all-important umami flavor.
Add dashes of the following, to taste: soy sauce (or fish sauce), Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (I use regular Tabasco, or the green version, unless I’m feeling under the weather, in which case I get out the habañero sauce).
Add the frozen baby peas. Or broccoli.
Pour on the boiling water to just cover the noodles. Nuke them for three minutes. Add the scallions, the contents of that foil umami packet, and a great big spoon full of peanut butter (the exact quantity really depends on you and your peanut butter requirements – one tablespoon might be okay for you. I need more, I might use two or three, depending on how deprived I’m feeling). I recommend Jif extra-crunchy, but you could use that dull natural foods stuff, too. Or Skippy. Whatever. Then dollop in some catsup (not too much! about a tablespoon) and let it sit a minute until you can stir it up and the peanut butter melts nicely into everything else. Finally add the crucial vinegar – at least two teaspoons (maybe three, or four) of cider vinegar, preferably some you’ve had sitting around for a while with peeled fresh ginger in it. Or white vinegar, or Chinese black rice vinegar or whatever you have except for balsamic vinegar, which would be weird.
Add the green parts of the scallions now, and a handful of fresh cilantro would be nice at this point, too, but not necessary. If you want to go all out, you could also add a soupçon of toasted sesame oil here, too, but it's gilding the lily, really. If you have some Asian cucumber salad hanging around in the refrigerator, you could add some of that instead of the plain vinegar. That’s really good. (Asian Cucumber Salad à la Ken Hom: a peeled seeded sliced cucumber in ¼ cup vinegar with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vinegar, a couple of cloves of garlic minced, and sriracha to taste) If you have that, you are dining well. But even if you don’t, it’s a good bowl of food. Any leftovers make a fine breakfast, too.