The humble ramen noodle dresses up nicely, thank you. Here are a few recipes.
ZESTY CURRIED COCONUT RAMEN
Yield: 4 servings
2 (3-ounce) packs ramen noodles, any flavor
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded cabbage (see note)
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sambal oelek or similar Asian hot sauce
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon crushed peanuts
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. Cook ramen noodles in 2 cups of water (package instructions call for 4 cups total for 2 packages; use only 2 cups). Discard the seasoning packets or reserve for a future use. Drain noodles, reserving cooking water. Place noodles in a large bowl.
2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat; add crushed red pepper and garlic. When garlic starts to brown, add cabbage, mushrooms and broccoli. Stir-fry until vegetables soften slightly and start browning on the sides. Combine vegetables with noodles and set aside.
3. In the same wok or skillet, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, coconut milk, curry powder, hot sauce and salt; bring to a boil. Add noodles and vegetables, toss well and turn off the heat. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and stir, adding more cooking water until sauce reaches desired consistency. Add lime juice, toss, and let rest for 5 minutes so flavors can meld.
4. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and cilantro; garnish with lime wedges.
Note: You can add any vegetable of your choice --the more, the merrier. If you want to make the dish spicier, add chopped hot chiles to the crushed red pepper and garlic, or add more sambal oelek when making the sauce.
RAMEN VEGETABLE PANCAKES
Yield: 4 servings 1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles, any flavor
1 medium zucchini, shredded
2 green onions, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Break noodles into 4 pieces and cook according to package directions. Reserve seasoning packet. Drain noodles.
2. Mix noodles, zucchini, green onions, carrot, eggs, flour and ½ teaspoon of seasoning from ramen packet; stir to combine.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Using half of the mixture, form 4 pancakes, pressing down to flatten. Fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove and keep warm; repeat, using remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining ramen mixture.
4. Mix soy sauce and lemon juice; pass at the table as a dipping sauce.
RAMEN DESSERT PIZZAS
Yield: 8 servings
4 bananas, sliced
½ cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
Optional garnishes, such as shredded flaked coconut, chopped nuts, raisins
1. In a large skillet, combine bananas, honey and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring gently, until heated through. Let cool slightly.
2. Break each block of noodles in half at the fold, creating 8 flat noodle cakes. Discard the seasoning packets or reserve for a future use.
3. Place noodle cakes on a jelly roll pan or in skillets with tops. Spread the top of each noodle cake with peanut butter. Divide the banana mixture evenly over each cake, then top with chocolate chips plus coconut, nuts, raisins or any garnish of your choice. Cover with foil or pan tops and let stand for about 10 minutes, allowing chocolate to soften.
ASIAN COLE SLAW
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles
1 (14- to 16-ounce) package cole slaw mix
1 ½ cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup sunflower seed kernels
4 to 5 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1. Break ramen noodles into small pieces. Reserve the seasoning packets.
2. In a large bowl, toss together uncooked noodles, cole slaw mix, almonds, sunflower seeds and green onions.
3. Combine ramen seasoning to taste, sugar and vinegar until sugar is dissolved. Gradually whisk in oil. Pour over slaw until coated as much as desired; reserve any extra dressing for future use. If desired, let sit for a few minutes for flavors to meld
Variations: Use cider or rice vinegar; add chopped green or red pepper, chopped black olives, chopped artichoke hearts, chopped broccoli or diced cooked chicken breast in any combination according to your taste; brown the noodles in melted butter, then let cool before assembling salad.