Unlike many students who were forced - out of poverty - to subsist on a diet of dehydrated ramen noodles throughout their university years, I was lucky enough to live at home and, you know, eat healthily. That's not to say that I didn't have the occasional msg and sodium laden convenience product. My brother and I would regularly split a package when we watched WWE Raw that we would stir fry with veggies instead of turning it into soup.
Yes, I said WWE. I love Shakespeare, Jane Austen and the WWE. I also play video games. It weirds my students out to no end, but I like to say that my interests don't fit into nice, neat boxes.
The first time I went out and ate ramen noodles outside of my house was in my husband's town in Japan. There was a great shop in Toki-shi along Route 19 that served the most gloriously gigantic bowls of noodles. The first time we ate there, it was a painfully chilly, rainy Sunday night in November. The rain was pounding umbrellas with icy fury and we were both exhausted. We'd come back from Nagoya and with a long line at our regular Sunday night sushi joint, we decided to brave the vicious weather and try somewhere new.
Let me tell you, ramen is the perfect antidote to combat the bone chilling rain of an autumn storm. When your monster sized bowl arrives, you're immediately bathed in steam from the broth. On first bite, the noodles are so hot you almost burn your tongue, but you slurp them down anyway. And then, as you begin spooning the salty broth into your mouth, a warmth uncurls itself in your belly and begins to radiate throughout your limbs.
Frankenstein's monster could have been brought to life with ramen. If he had been, he probably would have been in a much better mood.
That first night, I had miso-butter ramen with corn, an egg, and bamboo shoots. And though I tried many other different varieties in my time there, I always returned to the comfort of miso ramen to warm myself.
I don't make ramen much for myself these days - only a handful of times for those chilly days in autumn and winter. The dehydrated stuff just doesn't do it for me. Luckily, there's a company in the GTA (Marufumi Foods) that makes fantastic fresh ramen and freezes it. Their stock base is a miso based paste, not a powder. If you can get hold of fresh or frozen ramen, you're working in a whole new ballpark of awesome.
Miso Ramen with Poached Egg and Spinach
1 package ramen with seasoning mix (preferably miso)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 handful baby spinach leaves
shichimi, or chili-garlic paste to taste
1. Cook ramen according to package directions. Meanwhile, bring a pot with 1" water in it to a boil. Add vinegar and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Crack egg into a small dish and slide into simmering water. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until your desired doneness.
2. Add spinach leaves to ramen and broth. Cook for 30 seconds, just until wilted. Ladle into a large bowl. Remove egg from poaching water with a slotted spoon and place on top of noodles. Sprinkle with shichimi to taste.