Asian food is a favorite of mine, and I like watching cooking shows with Asian influence on TV. One I’ve been watching for some time, and really enjoy, is Simply Ming. Ming Tsai is a Chinese chef with a really entertaining show. He recently did one on ramen noodles, and how they are a staple in Chinese cooking. He took the ramen noodles out of a package like we have all seen in the grocery store and made a meal from it adding a long list of vegetables along with several sauces common to Asian cuisine. At the time I thought, meh. I only remember having those noodles from a package many, many years ago and thinking they were more salt than noodle. However, a week or two later, I saw ramen noodles featured on Christopher Kimball’s show Milk Street. That same week, ramen noodles were the subject on an episode of Confucius Was A Foodie. With all that, maybe they were worth another look.
Looking for recipes on the internet, I found there was a flavor called ‘Oriental’, which would work well with several types of protein. I checked the sodium content, and it isn’t any worse than a standard can of soup. I had to laugh as the people who said ‘throw away the packet’ then proceeded to add more milligrams of salt to the dish than the packet has! Since you will be flavoring not only the broth but a lot of fresh ingredients without any additional seasoning, it actually doesn’t come out tasting salty at all. For those who must restrict sodium intake, I’ll give you an option for a low sodium version. In reality, there are about 1500 milligrams in the whole Oriental package (and less in the shrimp flavor), which is less than 3/4 of a teaspoon of salt. Truly, not that bad for seasoning two meals.
I found some ideas similar to this on several internet websites, but many of them used frozen vegetables – bleh. I like fresh vegetables, straight from the farmer’s market wherever possible. Using fresh instead of frozen and cooking for only a short time results in perfectly crisp tender vegetables. Some had long lists of ingredients, or served a crowd, while I am trying to develop more recipes for two. So I started experimenting. For the first version, begin with a package of Ramen Noodle soup mix, 8 ounces of 93% lean ground beef, a cup of sliced fresh mushrooms, a medium size head of broccoli cut in bite size florets, and about 1/4 cup of green onions. A bit of oyster sauce is optional if sodium isn’t a problem, it has about a half-teaspoon of salt in every tablespoon of sauce, but adds a wonderful umami flavor to the dish.
Place the beef in a skillet and sprinkle the flavor packet over the meat. Sauté until the meat is almost done. No oil is necessary if you use a non-stick pan.
Add the mushrooms, and saute for about a minute, just so they pick up the fond on the skillet a bit.
Now spread the beef and mushrooms into a ring.
Add two cups of water and the ramen noodles.
Toss the broccoli on top.
Cover, and let cook on medium heat, bubbling away at a good simmer for just 3 minutes. The broccoli will steam as the noodles boil.
Uncover, add the green onions and a tablespoon or so of oyster sauce if you like.
Stir in and serve. A meal in a bowl on the table in just about 10 minutes! And most of that time is preparing the ingredients. Plus, only one pan to clean.
Yum, fresh broccoli and fat mushrooms bursting with flavor, no additional seasoning needed. The great thing is that very little of this recipe is specific as to quantity. Other than the package of noodles and the 2 cups of water, you can add more veggies if you like, or leave the meat out altogether, just using mushrooms if you want. But wait, there’s more!
So I made that one a couple of times. Then, one day I had some leftover chicken in the frig, along with everything else I needed to make another version.
So I tried it with chicken too. The chicken and mushrooms got a quick sauté in the seasoning packet, just enough to bloom the spices.
Add two cups of water and the ramen noodles.
Top off with fresh broccoli florets.
Cover and simmer 3 minutes.
This time I cut the ramen noodles up a bit after they were cooked to make them easier to eat using a pair of kitchen shears. These were my grandmothers. Stir in the green onion and optional oyster sauce.
Lunch in under 10 minutes. Yes, those are my new rooster bowls, nice and deep to hold a lot of broth with the noodles, chicken and veggies.
Once again, a bowl full of fresh ingredients for a flavorful light lunch.
Now my brain started to envision all kinds of different proteins and veggies. I made yet another version on another day with shrimp and snow peas.
I remove the string from the snow peas, and DH suggested next time cutting the peas in half crossways to make them more bite size.
Same thing – sauté with the flavor packet, add water, noodles, snow peas and simmer.
Yum! Another winner, on the table in 10 minutes.
Once for a dinner meal, I served it with some potstickers to round out the meal. Some egg rolls would go well too.
Did DH approve? Here’s his bowl.
Asian Noodle Bowls
8 ounces of protein (beef, chicken, shrimp, pork, tofu)
1 package Ramen noodles in choice of flavor (Oriental, chicken, shrimp)
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered
2 cups water
1-1/2 to 2 cups hearty green vegetable like broccoli, cabbage or snow peas
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
Place the protein in a skillet and sprinkle the flavor packet over the top. Sauté until almost done. Add the mushrooms, and sauté for about a minute, just so they pick up the fond on the skillet a bit. Spread the protein and mushrooms into a ring. Add two cups of water and the ramen noodles. Top with green vegetable, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. If desired, cut up noodles a bit. Add green onions and oyster sauce, stir in and serve. Makes 2 servings.
Low Sodium Version – throw away the packet. Sprinkle the protein with your favorite spices such as lemon pepper or garlic. Add one can of low-sodium broth plus enough water to equal 2 cups instead of just water. Proceed with recipe.
Variations – add a bit of Teriyaki sauce for additional flavor. Add more veggies that would steam quickly like grated carrots, bean sprouts, watercress, bok choy, cauliflower, or water chestnuts.
Download the pdf – Asian Noodle Bowls
Now I am thinking maybe this would be a way to use the ground chicken and ground turkey that sometimes goes on sale to make some small meatballs for the dish. Pork would do well too. Oh, maybe black beans!! Which one looks good to you?