This easy instant ramen recipe is a part of my shelter-in-place recipe series, where I make my favorite restaurant meals with only the random ingredients I have in my pantry and fridge. Sometimes I order stuff on Amazon or Instacart — but nothing is made from scratch. Consider it quarantine fusion.

She ate ramen noodles from the vending machine, their texture just a few molecular recombinations from the Styrofoam cup containing them.

― Amy Waldman, The Submission

To most of us in the U.S., ramen is just as nostalgic as pizza and hot dogs. Those steaming bowls of lava-hot salty broth and chewy noodles often conjure highly specific comfort-food memories. Yet, they were often eaten because they were readily available, easy to make and cheap AF (also, not unlike pizza and hot dogs). 

I remember sitting at my first-grade best friend’s kitchen table, blowing on instant ramen broth, burning my mouth because I just couldn’t wait for it to cool down. To this day, I get a craving for KoolAid whenever I eat instant noodles because that’s what her mom would always give us to drink.

For the majority of Americans born in the 80s, ramen is likely a reminder of our college days — slurping $0.35 noodles in your dorm’s common room while watching The Real World, the broth layered with the flavors of burnt popcorn, Hot Pockets and styrofoam. 

But ramen also can also bring to mind first dates, hangover brunches and power lunches. The complex broth containing the equally complex flavors of ingredients I can’t even (embarrassingly enough) pronounce. Everyone at the table ordering artisanal saki and beers to wash down those $16 bowls of what they used to scarf down for less than $1. But hey, it’s all a part of the experience, right? 

While most NYC hipsters know Ramen as relatively unintimidating Japanese cuisine, the dish actually hails from China and was brought to Japan in the late 19th century. Ramen became more widely popular in Japan in 1945 when the country suffered a rice shortage

Enter: the U.S., who began widely importing high amounts of wheat into Japan during the American occupation following WWII.

And by the late 1950s, what was originally a dish that was popularized in Japan to keep people alive — first during the rice shortage and then again when American troops were heavily rationing food supplies after WWII — became a worldwide infatuation. 

My dad is one of those Americans who are a little more than obsessed with Top Ramen, one of the most popular brands of instant ramen on the market. In fact, he always has a Costco-sized box on hand at all times. (He’s not the only one, either. In 2012, instant noodle sales topped 100 billion units.) 

Prepackaged noodles were invented in 1948 by Momofuku Ando, a Taiwanese-Japanese immigrant who recognized the need for shelf-stable alternatives during foot shortages. The first package of instant noodles hit the shelves in Japan in 1958 and later that year, Top Ramen was a grocery store mainstay. It made its debut in the U.S. over a decade later in 1970. 

Basically, you can add anything you want to ramen. Because why the hell not. 

Ramen restaurants took a little longer to catch on stateside. While you could easily slurp a bowl of hot noodle soup at a food cart in post-World War II Japan, ramen restaurants weren’t widely popular across the U.S. until the early 2000s. And while Tokyo is home to over 10,000 ramen shops, NYC only has about a few dozen.

The typical bowl of ramen is made with wheat noodles, a complex broth, protein and veggies. Common toppings include curly scallions, tofu, pork belly, ground meat, ginger, nori, chili oil and a halved soft-boiled egg. Some people add sweet corn, fish cakes and bean sprouts too, but I’m not all about that. 

Basically, you can add anything you want to ramen. Because why the hell not. 

These days (or let’s be honest: any days), I don’t have a ton of time to make an eight-hour broth. I’m too busy scrolling through Instagram to find the funniest COVID-19 memes to send to my family and friends. I mean, I don’t just send all the funny ones to everyone. I only send each meme out to the specific people who will laugh the hardest. 

That’s why I simply use chicken broth. I discard the instant ramen seasoning packet because there is a ton of sodium in it and (last time I checked) partially-hydrogenated oil. But I do add a decent dollop of oyster sauce (you can use soy in a pinch) and some miso I found in the back of the fridge.

In addition to ramen, I also looove a good chicken katsu. But that takes too dang long to make, so I just cut up a chicken patty and arrange the slices on top of the noodles.

I also add tons of scallions (sometimes cilantro) and a poached egg because I recently discovered that you can poach an egg right in the freakin’ microwave. How easy is that?

Of course, I break into my dad’s stash of Top Ramen that he keeps in the basement.

This shelter-in-place ramen was an homage to Ivan Ramen in the East Village in NYC, one of my favorite ramen joints in the city.

Would Ivan use Top Ramen noodles in a pinch? Uh, I doubt it. Considering his obsession with using complex flour combos. But we’ve all gotta make some sacrifices in the name of social distancing, right?

Ingredients

  • ½ package ramen noodles (any brand you have on hand, or spaghetti)
  • 1 ½  cup chicken broth or bone broth
  • ½ chicken patty, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or soy sauce if that’s all you have)
  • 1 – 3 teaspoons sriracha (Huy Fong, of course)
  • ½ tablespoon miso paste (I use white miso, but any miso will work)
  • 1 tablespoon scallions or cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Cook the chicken patty based on the packages instructions (I recommend cooking it in the oven or toaster oven to ensure the patty is nice and crispy).
  2. Pour the chicken broth into a small saucepan, and add the miso, oyster sauce and dry ramen noodles; stir and cover. 
  3. Pour ½ cup water into a mug and add a tablespoon of vinegar; crack a raw egg into the water. Cover with a plate and microwave for one minute.
  4. When the chicken only has five minutes left on the timer, turn the burner on to cook the noodles. Bring the broth to a boil and cook for three minutes (or until tender); cover until the chicken is finished.
  5. When the chicken is done, cut the patty into slices. Pour the broth and ramen into a bowl. Top with the poached egg, chicken patty slices, oyster sauce, sriracha and chopped scallion or cilantro.

Disclaimer

Hey, hey! Just a few things before you leave… this post contains affiliate links, so if you buy something after clicking on a one, I might (fingers crossed!) just get a little commission. Good news: I only recommend products that I love! Which means you can feel good about all of my recs.

Also, you should know that I’m not a doctor. More importantly, I’ve never played one on TV. Always consult your doctor before taking any advice from me (or anyone else on the internets for that matter).

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