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Making a meal of instant noodles

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Instant noodles or ramen are one of the most popular go-tos for people needing a quick filler when they don’t have time to grab a proper meal. It’s also a cheap staple for many university or college students on a budget.

Unfortunately, instant noodles have also acquired a reputation for being nutritionally deficient. But they don’t always have to be. Add an extra step to the cooking method and some additional ingredients, and a meal featuring instant noodles can be more than empty calories.

Cook it your way

Instant ramen
By elsie.hui
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Almost any kind of meat and vegetables will do to bulk up a meal of instant noodles.

Many people cook instant noodles quickly by simply throwing the noodles into a pot with water and the soup mix for a few minutes before eating.  The noodles of some brands however, may be coated with oil, flour or even wax. For the latter, it could take a few days for your body to clear the wax.

To avoid this, you’ll have to use two pots of water to cook your instant noodles. After first boiling the noodles in a pot until they are almost cooked, take out the noodles and throw away the water. Then boil another pot of water and cook the noodles with the soup. Cooking hobs like the Electrolux Brio’s Penta Jet burners can provide a more efficient, higher temperature flame that reduces boiling boiling times by up to a third, so you can prepare your noodles more quickly.

Depending on your personal preference, you can choose to reduce cooking time to get al dente style noodles, or longer for a softer texture. Boiling the noodles longer will also allow the noodles to absorb more soup and its flavour.

Boosting the soup

Miso
By Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
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Adding condiments like miso paste can make instant noodle soup taste better.

The instant noodle’s soup mix contains a high amount of sodium, so it’s not a bad idea to remove or reduce use of the soup mix.  Try replacing it with condiments such as miso paste, curry paste or powder and fish sauce. Spices like white pepper, Sichuan pepper, chili flakes or even a stick of cinnamon can add natural flavours to the broth while giving it an extra kick.

Peanut butter can also be a surprisingly tasty alternative to add to the soup. It thickens the broth and adds a nutty flavour that works especially well with noodles with Pad Thai-like flavours.

Meat and vegetables

For extra fibre, add leafy green vegetables such as bok choy or spinach to the instant noodles. Green onions can also add crunch and flavour without the need for too much cooking. Frozen vegetables also work well and can be added quickly into the broth. 

Eggs in the soup is an almost universal addition to add protein to the meal. You can also throw in a small helping of meat, like grilled bacon, shredded chicken or sausages. Any kind of meat will do, even leftovers.  Depending on your personal tastes, a slice of cheese can also go well with the soup, in addition to thickening it. Just don’t put it in too early. Add it in around the last 30 seconds of cooking.

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