Everyone, Kylie Jenner just shared her ramen recipe via Snapchat. I have to say, it was a major surprise for me to learn that she eats junk food like the rest of us. Maybe I subconsciously imagined her junk food was a bag of organic, air-popped potato chips. But ramen noodles? Color me shocked, people! Not only do her artificially plumped lips touch the salty goodness of ramen, but she has her own special recipe for it.
Far be it from me to police anyone’s idea of great trash food (OK, so it’s not very far from me at all), but no. You can’t improve on a basic ramen noodle with even more basic ingredients. Butter is essentially a salt condiment. Adding butter to ramen merely ratchets up the sodium to heart attack levels instead of delivering complementary flavor. The “seasoning” packet has garlic powder in it already. Kylie might just like her ramen on the garlicky side. The most respectable addition to her ramen is egg, although I’m not sure scrambled egg is the way to go.
If Kylie really wants to make a gourmet trash meal, I have a few rules and recommendations.
First of all, the goal of eating ramen is to cook without really cooking. So no braising pork belly or making kimchee like your favorite ramen shop down the street. If you’re going to break open a packet of Top Ramen, at least respect the genre of “food” you’re working with. Commit to the art of half-assed laziness.
If you must add condiments, at least use Asian ones. Tip in a few droplets of Sriracha sauce for some flavor and kick. You can add yakisoba or soy sauce, but if you do, I’d ease up on putting the entire salt-laden seasoning packet into the soup. A drizzle of toasted sesame oil also does wonders for packaged ramen.
The real secret to gourmet Top Ramen is vegetables you don’t have to cook. I’d caution you to use ones that wilt easily in microwave heat, unless you want to crunch on carrots with your noodles. Toss in half a bag of prewashed baby spinach. Chop up a scallion. Sometimes, if I have fresh herbs on hand and prefer a Vietnamese pho kind of taste, I add a few basil leaves. Not everyone is a fan of cilantro, but I’ve been known to eat it with my packaged ramen too. Feeling adventurous? Go for some Brussels sprouts.
If you’re trying to make your ramen a “serious” meal with some oomph to it, almost any precooked protein will do. Add leftover grilled chicken, pork, beef or shrimp to the packaged noodles, and you might actually get full. The seasoning packet you pair it with doesn’t matter. (Spoiler alert: The “shrimp”-flavored ramen doesn’t really taste like seafood.) Not a meat eater? Traditional ramen restaurants often add a halved soft-boiled or poached egg to the broth upon serving. If you want to do some actual cooking, the egg is worth it.
Do you eat packaged ramen? Do you think Kylie Jenner’s recipe of butter, garlic powder and egg ramen is basic or bold? Don’t answer that. Just do better, not butter!