For us, dinner is the most challenging meal of the day. If you’re not quite sure when you’ll be getting home from work, and you’re only cooking for two, it can be tough to plan and execute a hot meal without also producing a huge mountain of leftovers. Fortunately, we’ve got lots of really great restaurant options within walking distance, so eating out is always an option — but sometimes it’s nice to have some home-cooked food, too.
Lately, we’ve been turning to ramen noodles as a dinner staple, and it’s worked out pretty well. We begin with the square, dehydrated ramen noodle soup packets that are familiar to any cash-strapped college student trying to stretch a buck. They provide just the right number of noodles for two and serve as a kind of base for our supper creations. But rather than adding the salty flavoring from the foil packet after the noodles are fully cooked, we take the dish in a different direction.
The nice thing about ramen noodles is their absolute flexibility. You can add just about anything to them and it will taste good. Leftover meats, in particular, are well suited to the ramen way, so we’ll chop up that chicken breast that’s been sitting in the baggie on the refrigerator shelf, or the remains of the foil-wrapped pork tenderloin. Even a can of tuna fish packed in water can serve well as the protein. And then we’ll add other items depending on our whim — perhaps some chopped walnuts and a broken-up hard-boiled egg, or some peas and whole raw almonds, or maybe all of them at once — as well as some seasonings, like black pepper and paprika. And a little — or maybe a lot — of Srirachi hot chili sauce adds a very nice kick to the concoction.
The end result is a steaming bowl of nourishing goodness that takes about 15 minutes to prepare from start to finish, smells wonderful and tastes great, and makes us feel like we’re putting our new kitchen to good use. It’s not gourmet, but it’ll do.