Chanced upon AN INTERESTING FACEBOOK POST tonight. It’s about the 13 ways Koreans eat their instant noodles, ramyeon.
Not all 13 ways are unique to Koreans, of course. But still, the FB post still seems interesting enough for me to want to translate it from Chinese to English, so here goes!
Original in Chinese: 飽兒
The 13 Secret Tips the Koreans Use to Make their Ramyeon Tastier
1. Add Seasoned Soybean Paste (쌈醬 Ssamjang)
The sweetness and spiciness of ssamjang make the perfect seasoning to the ramyeon soup stock. Just add a little to your ramyeon when cooking.
There are basically three main types of paste you need to know when it comes to Korean food. First, there’s gochujang (red pepper paste) and this is what Koreans add to a lot of their food, including bibimbap. Second, there’s doenjang (soybean paste) which is made from fermented soy beans; this is similar to miso (Japanese) but earthier and thicker.
Then thirdly comes ssamjang, which is actually a mixture of gochujang and doenjang, with seasonings like garlic, sesame, and sugar added. This is the dipping sauce you see at practically all Korean BBQ restaurants. The Koreans use ssamjang as a dipping sauce when they eat meat, and they also add this when they do wraps. It’s apparently nutritious and healthy for our bodies.
2. Add Sugar
Did you realize that sometimes the ramyeon that you eat at certain Korean eateries taste sweeter than the ramyeon you cook at home? Well, you can try adding just a teeny weeny teaspoonful of sugar to the soup and cook.
Yea, might sound funny when you think about it, but the taste is supposedly quite addictive!
3. Add Black Pepper
This one’s obvious… I can already imagine how good it’s gonna taste when we add a dash of black pepper to the ramyeon~
4. Add Tofu (Beancurd)
Hehe, if you add some tofu to the ramyeon, it’s gonna feel almost like you’re eating tofu chigae!
5. Turn Up the Heat
The Koreans believe that the ramyeon will taste better if we cook it on high and strong flames.
6. Add Vinegar
Once you’ve cooked the noodles and right before you start digging in, you can try adding one to two drops of vinegar. This is supposedly fantastic and will make the ramyeon three times tastier!
Really…?! I’ve gotten try this!
7. Add Perilla Leaves (5 to 7 pieces)
Do you like the smell and taste of perilla leaves? Very distinctive, ya? Adding the perilla leaves to the noodles will ‘upgrade’ the ramyeon instantly!
In Korea, they refer to perilla leaves as sesame leaves and lord knows why. Coz sesame leaves look different. Anyway, the perilla leaves actually to a plant from the mint family. They appear quite frequently in Korean restaurants. These are the ones with jagged edges and the underside is purple!
They can be eaten raw, tha’s why you see them at Korean restaurants, you can either use them whole as a wrap for meat or even for sashimi. The leaves are fairly big and are useful as wraps. They can also be cut up and put in salads. Or some people add them to hot pots to give extra flavour. Perilla leaves can also be pickled with soy sauce to make banchan (side dishes.)
8. Stir the Ramyeon
This is pretty obvious, don’t just leave the noodles to cook.
Stir them often; in fact, if you can lift the noodles out of the pot and place them back repeatedly, even better. This will make the noodles chewier (yes, more Q, hehe!)
9. Use the Right Volume of Water
The right volume of water is important and the Koreans seem to believe that 550cc is the magic number for single servings.
10. Add an Egg
Now I’m sure this is not rocket science or anything new, many of us add eggs to our instant noodles. But compared to just cracking the egg directly into the pot of noodles, some Koreans prefer to crack the egg into a separate receptacle and beating it slightly before pouring the egg into the noodles.
And oh, remember, you shouldn’t cook the egg for too long. Alternatively, add the egg after you’ve cooked the noodles and turned the fire off. You can let the simmering ramyeon cook the egg.
Hehe, I like to add TWO(!) eggs!
11. MUST Add Cheese!
If you haven’t tried this before, you don’t know what you’re missing out on!
Yeaps, once the ramyeon’s all cooked, just add a slice of cheese in the middle right on top. Don’t have to stir or break the cheese, just wait for it to melt and coat itself around the ramyeon, ahhhh….
12. Use Leftover Soup Stock
You know how we sometimes have leftover soup stock from steamboat or whatever? You can use that for your ramyeon too! In Korea, they often have kimchi chigae, soondubu and stuff, so they can easily use those as the stock to cook their ramyeon.
13. Use Milk Instead of Water
Using milk will give you something that smells super good! The soup’s gonna be thicker too!
If you’re really going to try boiling milk, please be very careful! It’s something that you can’t turn your back on, even if for just a few minutes!
You see, as milk heats, the water in its structure starts evaporating from the surface. This concentrates the remaining fat and proteins into a thicker layer at the top of the pot. This layer eventually becomes so thick that water vapour rising through the milk can’t break through very easily and gets trapped. That’s when you’ll start seeing the milk bubbling and frothing like crazy and yeaps, it’ll start spilling all over.
I’ve never boiled milk my entire life (I’m really no good in the kitchen, keke!), but I read that there are two things you can do to avoid this spillage problem.
To avoid this problem of spillage, one can place a spoon with a long handle in the pot while the milk is boiling. The quick and dirty fix is to put a long-handled spoon into the pot as it is heating as the handle supposedly provides a conduit for the steam to escape.
The second way is just to keep stirring ever so often to break up the top layer, allow the steam to escape, and make sure it’s heating evenly.
Okie, that’s it, the 13 tips!
And oh, since we’re talking about ramyeon… I was in the Tanjong Pagar area for lunch on Thursday and popped into Lotte (Korean) Mart coz we’ve run out of instant noodles at home. Actually we don’t eat instant noodles too often, my mama thinks they’re way too unhealthy. But hehehe, I love ’em!
Anyway, was just going to pick up my all-time fave, the black Shin ramyeon, when I saw these!
Nongshim Jjambbong!! *screams!*
I love love love these! I happened to be in Seoul when they’d first launched it a few years ago, and bought some home. And aigoo, they were so good! In fact, they didn’t really taste like instant noodles! The texture of the noodles is totally different!
But they disappeared from the (Singapore) market for over a year already… Am not sure if they also stopped selling them in Seoul, but anyway, I just couldn’t find them anywhere in Singapore anymore! So glad they’re back on the shelves here!
There’re only three in each pack, so I bought two packs. Hehe, I cooked and ate it that very night I got home!