Rethink Ramen

4 years ago
Rethink Ramen

 ramen noodles_LDC

 I love me a good, hot bowl – I not only slurp the long curvaceous noodles with a loud smack, I slurp the broth, hoisting the bowl with both hands to get every last drop.

I’m sure you’ve met my BFF, the basic staple of many a college dorm:  The Ramen Noodle. In Asian cuisine, ramen is a satisfying noodle dish, a dietary staple, which ranges in flavor from delicate to complex, subtle to spicy.

Here in the good ol’ US, however, we’re more familiar with ramen’s less fancy cousin, the inexpensive prepackaged brick of dried noodles accompanied by a sodium-rich seasoning packet.

You know the galz: Nissin’s Top Ramen, Marachan’s Cup o’ Noodles, Sapporo Ichiban, Ottogi Kiss Myon, Mama, Tung I and the rest of the entourage….  At 3 packs/$1.00, it’s quite a bargain for anyone trying to make ends meet.

You may not eat instant ramen on a regular basis, even though it’s perfect for a quick lunch, but did you know that this easy-on-your-wallet pasta can be used in many healthy, unique ways?

It’s time to rethink ramen!

With just a few fresh ingredients, ramen noodles can be transformed into the main attraction of a respectable weeknight dinner worthy of more than just a Styrofoam container. Try these 10 recipes and enjoy a dish worthy of every slurp and smack.

First things first. You must have this staple on hand for ramen noodles: Huy Fong’s Sriracha sauce. Look for the rooster. It alone elevates noodles to a whole new level.


The recipes    1.      Ramen Salad with Grilled Chicken – serves 4

This salad is so refreshing! There is never any left when taken to gatherings, and people always want more. Since it’s  a cinch to pull together last  minute for whoever’s hungry, it will surely be one you’ll want to have on hand.

Salad Ingredients

3 green onions, chopped

1 (6 ounce) bag coleslaw mix

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds or sunflower seeds

1 cup toasted, sliced almonds

1 (3 ounce) package chicken-flavored ramen noodles, reserve seasoning packet for dressing

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

Dressing Ingredients

1/4 cup oil

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Noodle seasoning (reserved packet)


Crumble ramen noodles and combine with green onions, mandarin oranges, coleslaw mix, sesame or sunflower seeds, grilled chicken and almonds.

Mix dressing ingredients (oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and Ramen Noodle flavor packet) in separate bowl.

Pour dressing over salad mixture.

Toss to coat and serve immediately.

 2.      Fresh Spring Rolls – serves 8 (2 rolls each)

This is always a crowd pleaser – even picky eaters love these salad-like rolls and the wonderful peanut sauce that goes with them.

These rolls can be prepared a few hours in advance, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap and kept at room temperature until needed.

Spring Roll Ingredients
1 package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
16 cooked medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined
2 large carrots, shredded
16 rounds of rice paper (banh trang), each 8 1/2 inches in diameter
8 large lettuce leaves (romaine or boston), thick stem ends removed and cut in half
1 cup mint leaves, washed and drained

Cut shrimp in half lengthwise and set aside.

In a  small pot, prepare ramen noodles according to package. Add carrots to the pot. Once cooked, drain and let noodles and carrots cool 10 minutes.

 Roll Assembly

Lay out the spring roll ingredients before beginning to assemble the rolls.

Fill a shallow 9 or 10-inch cake or pie pan with very warm water. Working with 2 sheets of rice paper at a time, immerse the sheets for about 5 seconds and quickly remove. Spread out flat on a dry towel. The rice paper will become pliable within seconds (too long and they become soggy and tear when rolling).

Lay one piece of lettuce over the bottom of the rice paper. Add 1 tablespoon of noodles, 1 tablespoon carrot, and several mint leaves. Roll the paper halfway. Fold both sides of the paper over the filling. Lay 2 shrimp halves, cut side down, along the crease. Keep rolling the paper into a cylinder to seal. Place the rolls, seam side down, on a plate and cover with a damp towel so they will stay moist.

To Serve
Slice each roll in half  at a diagonal. Serve rolls with the dipping sauces.

Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 small chili pepper, sliced
1 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce)

Combine garlic, sugar, lime juice, water, vinegar, and fish sauce. Stir to blend. Add chili rounds (to taste). Keep at room temperature for ½ hour before serving.
¼ cup water

Peanut Sauce Ingredients
2 tablespoons peanut butter (plain or chunky)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

¼ cup water (or enough to dilute to a creamy consistency)

Mix peanut butter and hoisin sauce together in a bowl. Slowly add water to dilute until it is a smooth, creamy consistency.  

3. Grilled Reuben Sandwich – serves 2

I love a good Reuben sandwich. Who doesn’t? My favorite deli was Brent’s when I lived in the Valley, but now that it’s a hike to get to. Reuben sandwiches will bring out the kid in you, guaranteed.


4 large slices Jewish rye bread, unseeded

1 package ramen noodles

2 tablespoons Thousand Island dressing

10 slices pastrami or corned beef

4 tablespoons sauerkraut

4 slices swiss cheese or your favorite (cheddar, manchego, provolone)

Non-stick olive oil cooking spray


Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the ramen seasoning packet.  Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, until cooked. Drain the noodles and let cool. Heat a skillet on medium and spray with cooking spray. Take one slice of bread and spread Thousand Island dressing on one side. Lay clean side in skillet to warm and brown. Top dressing side of bread with two slices of the cheese, pastrami, a handful of ramen noodles and sauerkraut. Close the sandwich by placing the other side of the bread on top. Spray with cooking spray to coat and cook until the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted, flipping only once, if possible. Repeat with second sandwich. Serve warm

4.      Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry – serves 4

Noodles almost steal the show in this dish because they soak up the delicious sauce.


1 pound flank steak

2 packages beef ramen noodles, broken up

1 large package frozen broccoli

1/3 cup soy sauce (adjust to taste)

Oyster sauce

1/3 cup water, plus 2 tbsp. water

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. cornstarch


In a skillet, add sesame oil and heat on medium. Add beef, and cook over medium heat until beef is cooked through. Add the frozen vegetables and the broken ramen noodles. Stir in only one seasoning packets along with the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, and water. Simmer everything over low heat until the noodles are thoroughly cooked. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 2 tbsp. water. Mix thoroughly, then add slowly to beef and broccoli, stirring to blend and thicken sauce. Remove and serve.

5. Fried Lumpia (Filipino Spring Rolls) – makes 25 rolls

Whenever I make these tasty snacks, I make 50 rolls and never seem to have any left over for the next day! They get eaten as fast as they get cooked.

Lumpia Ingredients

1 pound ground pork, chicken or turkey

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup shredded carrots

½ cup green onions

½ cup thinly sliced cabbage

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

 1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoons corn starch

1 package instant ramen noodles, cooked, drained and chopped

1 package lumpia wrappers, thawed (25 count)

2 cups vegetable oil for frying

1 egg


In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except wrappers, egg and oil. Use your hand or large spoon to blend all ingredients.

Crack the egg and put in a shallow dish.

Unwrap lumpia wrappers and place a wet towel over them to keep them moist.

Remove 1 wrapper and lay wrapper diagonally. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of meat  mixture on the bottom end. Roll bottom up once, then tuck in the sides, creating a long, thin log. Brush the top end with eggwash to seal. Continue until all lumpia are wrapped.

(If you have any remaining meat mixture left over, save it. You can stir fry it in a skillet and serve over cooked ramen noodles as a stir fry dish to another meal, or form into small meatballs, cook and serve in a ramen noodle broth as another meal.)

Pour oil in a small pot enough to cook 4 lumpia at a time, and heat oil. When hot, fry a few at a time until golden brown and meat is cooked through. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with soy sauce, gyoza sauce or traditional spring roll sauce. (I cheat and use a bottled sauce, but if you can’t find it, it’s terribly easy to make). Freeze any uncooked rolls for another meal

 Dipping Sauce Ingredients

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon chili paste with garlic

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced


6. Pad Thai – serves 4

Most Pad Thai recipes leave me with a disappointed, ketchup-y taste, making me long for the street vendors of Thailand, with their warm, delicious noodles. While some ingredients may not be pantry staples, making this dish just once will make you yearn to have it again and again. Boxed packaged will not compare.


1/3 cup fish sauce (find in Asian markets or online)

½ cup palm sugar (find in Asian markets or online)

½ cup tamarind juice concentrate (find in Asian markets or online)

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 packages ramen noodles

6 tbsp. vegetable oil, and

1 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1 ½ cups thinly sliced beef, chicken, tofu or shrimp

1 egg

1 cup matchstick carrots

1 cup bean sprouts

1 cup cilantro

1 cup green onions, cut into ½” pieces

1 cup chopped peanuts

Lime wedges (optional)


Heat a small pan on medium and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate and garlic. Cook until the palm sugar completely dissolves. Taste and adjust sweet and spicy flavors to suit your needs. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Cook noodles until al dente, drain and rinse in cold water to cool and stop the cooking. Heat 3 tbsp. of oil in a skillet on high and cook meats, tofu or shrimp for approximately 4 minutes. Remove and reserve in a small bowl. Next heat remaining oil, adding garlic and red onions. Stir frequently so you do not burn the garlic. Add noodles and stir another minute.

Add 3-4 tbps. Pad Thai sauce, coating noodles completely. Add cooked meat, tofu or shrimp and fry for another 3 minutes. Move noodle mixture to one side of skillet. In empty side, crack the egg and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions and bean sprouts, mixing and cooking for another 2 minutes. Taste. If you need more sauce, add at this time, or continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes if noodles are not soft enough.


Place on a plate. Garnish with peanuts and lime wedge (optional).


7.      Knockoff PF Chang’s Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps – serves 4

If you’ve ever dined at PF Chang’s, you know this signature dish is always in tall order. Make this healthy alternative at home to enjoy any night of the week. Substitute ground chicken or turkey for the original chicken breast, used at the restaurant.


5 oz. package of button, cremini, shitaki or portabello mushrooms, minced

2 teaspoons dry sherry

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons water

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey or chicken

5 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or ½ tsp. powdered

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 green onions, minced

1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoots, minced

1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, minced

1 package ramen noodles

 Ingredients for Cooking Sauce

5 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon dry sherry

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

12 iceberg, boston or romaine lettuce leaves


Cook ramen noodles according to package. Drain and cool. Cut into 1” pieces.

Mix all ingredients for cooking sauce in bowl, and set aside.

In medium bowl, combine cornstarch, sherry water, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and ground turkey or chicken. Stir to coat thoroughly. Stir in 1 teaspoons oil and let sit 15 minutes to marinate.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 TBSP oil, then add seasoned turkey or chicken and stir fry for approximately 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add 2 TBSP oil to pan. Add ginger, garlic and onion; stir fry 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so as not to burn the garlic.

Add mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.

Return turkey or chicken to pan. Add mixed cooking sauce to pan. Cook until thickened and hot.


Cover bottom of serving dish with cooked ramen noodles. Spoon ground turkey or chicken mixture on top of noodles. Place lettuce leaves on separate platter.

To eat, simply spoon noodle and ground turkey or chicken mixture into lettuce leaf , roll up, and enjoy..


8.       Kid’s Snack – single serving


Crumble, tear open and pour into mouth. No kidding. This is my daughter’s favorite go-to snack. Mama noodles and Little Prince have seasoning baked into the noodles and are so delicious right out of the package, no recipe needed!


 9.      Pho Ramen – serves 4

What the Pho?! This recipe takes the longest to make, but it is well worth it.

The dish is pronounced “fuh”. Not “foo” or “foe” or “puh” – Pretty Pho-king centsational, if you ask me.

It’s best if you can get each spice separately, but if you live near an Asian market, they sell Pho spice packets or soup bases, which are extremely convenient. They cost less than $2.00 and even come with a mesh bag to put all the spices in, or little bricks like bouillon cubes. Spices include cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander pods, star anise and cardamom. Note: Pho is not pho without its broth. The broth is the element that gives pho its life and soul.



1/2 tablespoon peanut oil

1 cup sliced yellow onions, plus 1/2 yellow onion, halved

1 star anise pod, plus 1 piece star anise

1 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2-3  pounds marrow-rich beef bones and beef knuckle bones

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1 tbsp.  chopped fresh gingerroot

1/2 cinnamon stick, broken in half

1 tbsp. whole black peppercorns

Soup Ingredients

3 packages instant ramen noodles, seasoning reserved for another use

1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

1/2 pound beef sirloin, flank steak, filet mignon, or London broil, cut across the grain as thinly as possible

1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion

1 cups bean sprouts

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 small red chiles, sliced (optional)

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (green tops only)

Lime wedges, as garnish (optional)


In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until just beginning to color, about 6 minutes, carmelizing them. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Turn the skillet to high. Press the star anise into the flesh of the halved onion and place in the skillet. Grill until blackened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat.

Rinse and place the bones in a large stockpot and cover with water 2 inches above bones and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, skimming the top to remove any grey foam that forms on the surface. Add grilled and sauteed onions, and remaining ingredients to the bone broth, stir well, and simmer partly covered for at least 4 hours, adding more water as needed to keep the bones covered by 1-inch. (Do not rush this step, because it takes time for the marrow in the bones to dissolve into the water. You can’t force it with shorter, harder boiling, but it will  distort the flavor of the pho broth. The flavor of the marrow is the essence of the broth; it must be brought out gently and doing so takes time.

Once the broth is finished, strain it so it is clear. Remove meat from bones and set aside, or toss them to your favorite pooch once they have cooled. Discard everything but the meat from the bones and the broth. Add fish sauce, and simmer on low to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, and heat enough vegetable oil in a large saucepan to come 4 inches up the sides. Add noodles to the water and boil until just tender, then drain. Add noodles to the hot oil and fry briefly until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

In skillet where you fried the noodles, add another teaspoon of oil and heat. Quickly fry the beef slices until they are medium-rare/medium and remove immediately.


Divide the noodles among 4 soup bowls. Divide the remaining ingredients and the  meat among the bowls and ladle the broth over each portion at the table. Garnish with lime wedges and serve immediately with Srirachi hot chili sauce and hoisin sauce. Pho-tastic!


10.  Ramen Shrimp  Foo Yung – makes 4 patties


1 package instant ramen noodle, shrimp flavored

3 Tbsp. oil, plus more for frying

6 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

½ medium onion, thinly sliced

½ cup frozen peas

1 cup celery, finely chopped

1 cup green onions, finely chopped

1 cup tiny shrimp or small shrimp, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/3 tsp. ginger, grated or powder

1-1/4 cups boiling water

4 large eggs


Crumble ramen noodles in packet. Cook in a small pot according to directions.  Drain and place in large bowl, reserving liquid broth.

In a large skillet, add oil, and heat to medium.  Add the mushrooms, celery, sliced onions, peas, shrimp, and sugar and stir fry about 5 minutes until golden and vegetables are softened. Add the soy sauce and ginger. Turn off stove, remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.

Crack eggs into a separate bowl and beat until blended.

To the ramen noodle bowl, add beaten eggs and all skillet items. Stir to mix. Re-heat skillet and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Spoon mixture into skillet, making 4” patties at a time. Fry until golden brown and eggs have set. Place on a platter.

Gravy Directions

Pour ramen liquid broth in a small pot and heat on medium heat. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water. Gently pour cornstarch into broth, stirring it until it is warmed and the consistency of gravy.

Drizzle gravy over the tops of shrimp foo young patties and garnish with chopped green onions. Serve warm with rice.


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