Maruchan Ramen, Japanese beef noodle soup

Another summer day goes by and another three meals are missed. Unless a glass of chocolate milk counts as a meal. It is 11:00 PM and I am finally becoming hungry enough to start scrounging around. 

Oh joy! Maruchan ramen. Beef even. 

These are the things we buy for 25¢, I think. Maybe $1.00. I don't know. Let's see what is.

Goody gumdrops, a flavor packet! I cannot wait to open it and see all its beefy goodness.

Hey wait, where are the beef chunks? It's powder! What ever could it be? I wet a finger and taste some. 

It tastes like beef bouillon with powder onion, powder soy things, MSG, it's very salty. Chemicals. Maybe I can help it with real beef since it doesn't have any.

I used only half this steak. This looks like a sirloin steak. I just recently learned that sirloin steak is not the same thing as New York steak. Apparently a New York steak is better. I think a New York steak is the long non-tenderloin portion of a T-Bone or Porterhouse steak. 

The thinly cut slices were put into a pot with hot olive oil on medium high. They browned nicely in less than a minute. They were removed to a plate leaving behind a little mess in the pot. We like that mess. We cook-types call it fond. We call it fond, I guess because we're fond of it. Makes sense to me. It is the result of non-enzamatic browning reaction between amino acid (think protein) and reducing sugars (think carbohydrate) which result in hundreds of flavor compounds that was first described by a French guy named Maillard. FACTS ! 

We'll leave the mess in the pot and persist with vegetables, since our flavor packet is bereft of vegetables. I scrounge around some more and find these. Here they are mise en place, which is an important thing to do because it means the cook won't be racing around like a poulet décapité looking for ingredients once the heat is on. 

Left to right: scallion, mushrooms, carrot, broccoli, careless jalapeño, fresh ginger, fresh garlic. Not too bad, eh?, for a scrounge session. 

The fond would probably work all by itself with water but even with hundreds of flavor compounds it's going to be fairly diluted, and since this Maruchan Ramen is Japanese we can go with our Asian soup flavor enhancements. I drag out the usual suspects, always reliable. 

Then I get the idea to include tamarind. If I didn't have tamarind then I'd consider Worcestershire sauce which is basically a tamarind sauce. It's a British/Indian thing. 

I taste the soup. It's delicious. Much better than the sample from the flavor packet. You know what? I'm just going to throw away that flavor packet. It's crap. 

Let's look at those noodles again. They're dry. They've already been cooked and dehydrated. They've been produced for convenience and for speed which is very odd since regular dry noodles are already convenient and speedy. How can pre-cooking and additional dehydration possibly help? I taste a piece of broken noodle. It's nothing at all. I conclude these squiggly noodles are the sickly anemic poor cousins to actual noodles. I'm telling you that I know from one tiny sample that these noodles are not right. Fuck it, I'm throwing away these stupid annoying noodles too. Lordy, even at 25¢ this product is a rip-off nutritional hoax. 

In an attempt to stay Asian about this, I take a handful of starchy rice and mill it in the coffee bean grinder, handy little thing. It's fun!

I break an egg and add a little water, all the rice powder, salt, and AP flour by the tablespoonful until a dough forms. The dough rests briefly.

So there ya go. Here's the enhanced Maruchan Ramen. 

The meat here is more than evident, it is actually something to chew on. The broth is delicious, well-rounded with no extraneous questionable chemicals that might hazard what remains of my delicate nervous system. The noodles are surprisingly sturdy toothsome tasty and filling. This is the best Maruchan Ramen I ever had! Hurray! I urge you to try this with your Ramen packages, you'll be amazed how those convenience packages can be improved with just a little help. 

Here is the ingredients list for Maruchan Ramen beef published on Food Facts. 


Anonymous said...

I drop over here occasionally from your links at Althouse.

I just wanted to say that your posts are a treasure. Delightfully smirk-inducing. I should really just bookmark your site and come here regularly, but that would probably take too much time away from my obsessive lurking at Althouse.

The soup, by the way, looks delicious! My kids really like the nasty ramen stuff (they run about 10-12 cents a pack around here, on sale), and I doubt they'd fully appreciate what you've done, so I probably won't be throwing them away. But I might just try your "improvements" just the same!

Don't Tread 2012 said...

Chip, great work, that really is putting 'lipstick on a pig'!!!

I'm going to give this a whirl.


Peter Hoh said...

Looks better than my attempts to beef up a ramen packet.

Anonymous said...

In my poverty-stricken grad school days, I would occasionally be so broke that I would dine on Ramen noodles with some chopped-up veggies to simulate nutrition. But you appear to have taken the concept far further, into an actual food item! My hat is off to you.

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