Not Just for Soup!
Ramen noodles, the bane of many college students, can be used in some creative ways. In Japan, they take their love of ramen noodles very seriously, with nearly every region having its own variation of ramen. In the city of Fukuoka, you can even enjoy the amazing Ramen Stadium, with eight different restaurants offering a huge variety of ramen dishes.
Here in the US, ramen noodles have obtained somewhat of a cult status with restaurants such as the famous Momofoku Noodle Bar in NYC offering a late night “Momofuku Ramen” with pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg.
In the Berkshires, ramen noodle packets can be found in just about every grocery store and, believe it or not, in the grocery aisles of many pharmacies like CVS. I’ve seen them sold for as little as 10 cents per package. However, the sodium content of these packets is absolutely astronomical – not healthy at all – but luckily the seasoning packets are separate from the noodles.
Here’s a recipe that my family has enjoyed for many years. It uses toasted ramen as a topping for a crunchy salad. Enjoy the Asian-inspired flavors while eating the salad with chopsticks!
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
½ cup butter
3 ounces (1 packet) of plain dry ramen noodles, crumbled (Do not use the seasoning packet!)
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sugar
½ head of chopped Napa cabbage (you can substitute Bok Choy cabbage or Savoy cabbage)
Put the chopped cabbage into a large serving bowl.
Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine (or put in a covered jar and shake until well mixed).
Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, make the topping. In a small cast iron pan, melt the butter then lightly sauté the dry ramen noodles until lightly toasted, being careful not to burn them. Add the sesame seeds and sugar and sauté for one more minute until the sesame seeds are lightly browned.
Toss the cabbage with the dressing and add the toppings.