Ramen was fine in college. Times were tough and I really needed that other 85 cents of my dollar to go toward the important things, like booze and dope. (Or "textbooks," as Mom called them.) But with age comes sophistication. And now that my dinner budget is well past the dollar mark, I've devised several ways to serve up a tasty bowl of noodles.
On a recent trip to Talin Market, the fish guy was gracious enough to point me toward his favorite udon noodles (refrigerated, not dried—a mark of haute cuisine). After trying every flavor (crab, shrimp, pork, chicken, etc.) I decided that "Oriental Flavor" was by far the closest thing to the broth I've slurped with my udon at good Japanese restaurants. I have no answer to the age-old question of what "Oriental Flavor" actually means.
Along with the 85 cent packs of noodles and broth mix, I pick up some char-su pork (aka barbecue pork) from the deli counter, an onion, some bok choy, a roll of fish cake (about $3 in the frozen Japanese foods section), some chili garlic sauce and some soy. That's all that's needed, unless you want to add some Chinese broccolli or shiitake mushrooms.
The instructions couldn't be simpler:
1. Slice pork thin, fish cake thinner, onions paper thin. Break bok choy off its stem, wash.
2. Cook noodles according to package. Add ingredients toward end of boiling based on size and desired firmness of said ingredient. (Chinese broccolli goes in a few minutes before cook time is up.)
3. Stir in 1-2 tsps. of chili garlic sauce and 1-2 tsps. of soy.
4. Serve in your favorite bowl.
5. Realize that you're a grown-up, and a dollar-or-so spent on a tasty meal is worth foregoing Keystone Light and instant Ramen.