by Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, Lincoln Land Community College
On occasion, or sometimes more often, there comes a need for something fast, quick and easy. Grilled cheese is always a good “go-to,” and it is pretty easy to jazz it up. A gourmet PBJ might be your thing. For me, I like a snazzed-up bowl of ramen with an egg poached in the soup while it simmers. I have a secret garnish that I put on my ramen – Spicy Chili Crisp, or “Happy Lady Sauce” is a fantastic condiment that goes well on any savory dish. Laoganma’s brand “Happy Lady Sauce” gets its nickname from the picture of the chef on the label – she really doesn’t look very happy at all!
Spicy Chili Sauce is great on pizza, salad, scrambled eggs, rice, sushi, egg rolls etc. It tastes like it was made to go on ramen and adds a nice depth of heat and flavor plus a crunchy, crispy texture. My favorite brand of ramen is “Mama” which can be found in some grocery stores, and a great variety of flavors can be purchased in Asian markets. My flavors of choice are duck and pork. In Japan, ramen is taken very seriously, and there are as many styles as there are regions. The stock used in Japan can sometimes take days to prepare. Comparatively, if you read the nutritional content for store ramen you will notice about two days’ worth of sodium!
I have included a quick miso broth recipe that freezes well and has a slightly lower sodium content. Another alternative would be low or no sodium chicken, pork or vegetable stock simmered with a little fresh ginger. Also, there is a list of many different garnishes that can be added to your ramen to suit your own personal taste. A poached egg, grilled pork, sliced mushrooms and of course Spicy Chili Crisp is a great combination, but you can use almost anything on hand. A five minute meal with a ton of flavor is my guilty pleasure.
1 package of ramen noodles of choice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2-4 teaspoons of Spicy Chili Crisp (optional)
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 egg, cracked into a very small dish
Place water in pot with seasoning packets and bring to a boil.
Add noodles and lower heat to medium.
When noodles become pliable (after a few seconds) stir to create a well in the center. Gently drop the egg into the center of the pot. After 2 minutes flip the egg over in the broth, simmer for 1 minute and then pour soup into serving bowl.
Add scallions and drizzle with sesame oil. When I use Chili Crisp I skip the sesame oil.
If using optional broth below do not use the seasoning packet or water. Bring broth to a boil and skip to step 2.
Optional Homemade Broth
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 Tablespoon miso paste, any style white, red or brown
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, smashed
Fish sauce or Light soy sauce, to taste
2” square of Kombu (optional, seaweed product)
0.176 ounces of Bonito (optional, dried and shaved tuna)
Preparation for optional Broth
Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn off heat and let sit for an hour, strain to remove solids.
Optional Garnishes – use any combination
1-2 Tablespoons Chili Crisp
4 ounces grilled pork tenderloin, or grilled chicken breast
4 ounces cooked and peeled shrimp
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 Tablespoons chopped peanuts
¼ cup sliced Shiitake mushrooms
¼ cup Kimchi
½ cup edamame
3 or 4 crisp, fried wonton skins
4-5 slices of Kamaboko (Japanese fish cake)
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, very thin julienne
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.