Easy ramen noodle hacks

If you’ve written off ramen noodles, it’s time to give them another chance. A few ingredients that add flavor and texture turn a dorm-room staple into an elegantly simple meal.

RAMEN HACKS

1 packet of ramen

Boiling water

Own stock, adding one of the following:

2 tablespoons mushroom miso (kinoko)

2 tablespoons miso

1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon powder

Add one or all of these flavorings:

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ teaspoon minced garlic

3/4-inch piece of ginger, peeled an very finely chopped

½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground

1 tablespoon black bean sauce

Squeeze of lime

Then add one or more of these toppings:

Small handful of shredded Napa cabbage

2 to 3 stalks of Chinese greens, such as bok choy

4 to 5 baby spinach leaves

Handful of sliced mushrooms, such as shiitake

3 to 4 slices of tofu, firm, smoked or silken

1 tablespoon peanuts

5 to 6 strips nori seaweed

Small handful of bean sprouts

2 to 3 scallions, chopped

2 tablespoons bamboo shoots, fermented (menma)

Finish with one or more of these garnishes:

Handful of cilantro leaves

Large pinch of picked ginger

2 tablespoons kimchi

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Place the ramen into a largeish ceramic or wood bowl. Pour boiling water onto your stock base, then pour this over the ramen. Add the flavorings. Then add the toppings. Leave for a few minutes until the ramen is soft. Add the garnish.

Our assessment: Next time I get home late after a long day and don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen, this is what I’m having for dinner. It can be prepared in the time it takes to boil water.

I started with two cups of water in a Pyrex measuring cup. I poured the water into a tea kettle to boil. While I waited for the water to boil, I added 2 tablespoons of miso in the now-empty Pyrex measuring cup. I chopped up one scallion and some firm tofu, used scissors to cut a half dozen thin strips from a sheet of sushi nori (seaweed) and toasted sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes. I emptied the package of ramen noodles in a soup bowl, retaining the flavor packet that came with the noodles to use sometime in the future. I poured the 2 cups boiling water into the Pyrex measuring cup, stirring up the miso, and then poured this stock over the ramen. I added 1 teaspoon sesame oil and stirred. Next came the toppings: the scallions, tofu and nori as well as a few baby spinach leaves and shiitake mushrooms. I garnished with pieces of pickled ginger and the toasted sesame seeds.

From the book: “V is For Vegan” by Kerstin Rodgers; 192 pages, $29.95. Published by Quadrille, 2016.

What you get: This collection of 120 recipes that come from all over the world provide flavorful and visually appealing vegan options for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks and desserts. Plus, the opening chapter is a directory of ingredients and foodstuffs to have on hand — spices, stocks, and nut milk, etc. — along with recipes for making things such as vegan mayo, cashew “cheese” and coconut whipped cream.

In her own words: “A vegan diet is easier than you think. Basically, you can eat anything that is derived from plants, and it’s amazing when you discover what flavors can be achieved without meat.”

ABOUT THIS FEATURENew cookbooks flood the market every week. This feature will help you make sense of what’s new and what’s worth trying out. Email your questions and ideas to connie.post@coxinc.com

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