Coming home after a long day without any food prepared can be frustrating. When caught in this situation, I often turn to instant ramen noodles for a quick bite. Now, a pack of instant noodles is not nutritionally nourishing on its own. But if you add a few veggies and a yummy source of protein, you can turn this cheap product into a full meal! I tried out three different ways to bulk up ramen. Here are options that have meat (thank you, Grandma, for the bulgogi), vegetarian with soft-boiled eggs, and vegan with tofu. They are all super delicious, filling and packed with flavor! Let me know which one you try!
Keep in mind that no instant noodle packet can beat fresh and authentic flavors, so if you have a ramen shop near you, I’d recommend giving them a try! One of the best places I’ve been is Ramen Ya – I ordered katsu chicken ramen last time we were in Hawaii and I fell in love!!
Instant noodles were first invented in Japan way back in 1958! That’s over fifty years ago!! I wonder if instant noodle’s inventor, Momofuku Ando, knew he’d be the go-to for college kids everywhere? 🍜
Of course, eating instant noodles every single day would not be an ideal health plan. Ramen seasonings are usually packed with sodium to preserve their flavor and extend the product’s shelf life. Think about it, do those ramen packets ever go bad? Just boil some water, rehydrate those noodles with their seasoning and BAM it tastes salty, spicy and delicious as ever. In moderation.
Option #1 – Bulgogi Ramen
There are two common types of instant noodles. One is in a plastic package, and you boil water in a small pot to which the noodles are added and cooked. The second type is a plastic or Styrofoam cup that holds the noodles, to which boiling water is added and the noodles sit, covered, until they rehydrate.
For a yummy bowl of bulgogi ramen, cook your noodles based on the instructions on the package. Add thinly sliced Korean beef bulgogi, shredded carrots and seaweed to the cooked noodles and its soup. Top it all with some spicy sauce like gochujang.
I know this is blending Korean and Japanese food in one. But these Korean flavors are what I grew up on, and nothing is more comforting than familiar flavors served in a hot bowl of noodles. 🥰
Option #2 – Vegetarian Ramen with Eggs
If you are vegetarian or want to take a break from meat, pop on a few soft-boiled eggs. There are several amazing ramen shops here in Portland, and some of my favorites have served a perfectly soft-boiled egg on top of the hot noodles.
To achieve the firm whites and that not-liquid-not-solid, luxurious yolk, boil your eggs for about seven minutes. Then to create an exquisite vegetarian ramen bowl, add shredded carrots, seaweed and the soft-boiled eggs to your noodles and soup. Top it all with some sesame seeds and spicy mayo.
Another way I enjoy eggs in ramen is by cracking in a whole egg just before the noodles are done boiling. I swirl the egg around the boiling soup and noodles. This creates delicious strands of egg within the hot ramen, similar to egg drop soup.
Option #3 – Vegan Ramen with Tofu
Looking for a protein-packed vegan noodle meal? Get yourself some tofu! Crispy baked tofu and ramen noodles pair so deliciously together. I have been spending YEARS looking for the best baked tofu recipe, and I found it at Cookie and Kate.
The key to crispy tofu is using extra firm tofu and draining it for at least 30 minutes to get as much moisture out before it goes into the oven. To drain the tofu, slice it into half-inch strips, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel with the slices separated by at least one towel layer, and place something heavy on the tofu like a cast iron skillet. This squeezes the water out of the tofu and into the towel.
To create a delicious vegan ramen meal, cook your noodles according to the package’s instructions. Top them with crispy baked tofu, sliced carrots, seaweed and your favorite green vegetable – I used roasted asparagus. Enjoy!!
Omnivore, vegetarian or vegan, there’s a wholesome instant noodle dish out there for everyone. So next time your time or your wallet is in a pinch, try out one of these delicious and easy bowls of ramen – three ways! ♥
Vegan Instant Ramen with Crispy Tofu
- 15 oz extra-firm tofu, drained (see note in above post)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce or Bragg's liquid amino
- 1 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 bunch asparagus, with the woody ends trimmed off
- 4 packages instant ramen noodles (or one for each person/meal you plan to make)
- 1 cup carrots, sliced into rounds
- seaweed, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 4 Tbsp sesame seeds, optional
- Drain the tofu for at least 30 minutes, or up to one hour.Preheat the oven to 400°F. Dice the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil, soy sauce and corn starch. Toss the asparagus in the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Lay out the tofu and asparagus on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat so nothing is overlapping. Bake for about 25 minutes, until it is tofu crispy and golden brown and the asparagus is tender.
- Cook your noodles according to the instructions on the package.
- To your serving dishes, add your noodles and their broth. Top with the baked tofu and asparagus along with the diced carrots and seaweed.Sprinkle on sesame seeds. Enjoy!