Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Black Breh Food Tips: How to Swag Out Your Lame Ass Ramen

 Yes, I am aware that the Iowa Caucuses happened. Yes, I am also aware that Mitt Romney won by a frog's hair margin. Yes, I am aware that Michele Bachmann has finally taken her expired brand of Middle American crazy back to Minnesota after only getting 5% of the people in her birth state to vote for her. And yes, finally, I am aware that the Santorumbot did extremely well in the Iowa polls. But I don't care. Why? Because I made a 2012 promise (NOT A RESOLUTION) to myself that I'd not talk too extensively about politics until I reach 15,000 tweets.

So, instead of talking about the GOP 2012 Clusterf*ck Circus of Wonder™, instead, I'm going to make the inaugural post in my new series, Black Breh's Food Tips! In this series, I'll post recipes and strategies that my broke ass had to learn because I'm poor as hell I gathered throughout college and bachelorhood that are still helpful today. However, I have to give credit to Mrs. Breh on this one. My wife is a bona-fide food lover (NOT a "foodie"), and most of these ideas are based on a suggestion that she had one day to add vegetables to our lame ass packs of ramen. So here's today's post: How to Swag Out Your Lame Ass Ramen!

Let's get to it. 

First, let's deal with the term "Swagging Out". It basically means to imbue something or someone with the maximum amount of awesomeness that can be handled either physically, mentally, or structurally by him/her/it. 

That's what we're going to do to your ramen.  It's really simple, not time consuming, and can turn out really delicious. There are only a few, simple steps that will lead to Ramen Wonderland, and if you follow my guide you'll have a really good base to build your ramen swag upon. 

Rule #1: Get Good Ramen.

Sounds dumb, right? There isn't any good ramen. WRONG. The stuff you get out of Kroger is the bottom of the ramen barrel. All the good ramen is a hop, skip, and a jump to you local asian or international market. Instant noodles aren't just for broke ass Americans. Asian people created the stuff, and they make the best kind. It'll be a little more expensive than your standard 5 for a dollar fare, but the increase in quality and authentic flavor makes a difference. My favorite brands:

Sapporo Ichiban

This is probably the first kind of ramen you'll graduate to, simply because it's the closest to what most people know. The Hot and Spicy chicken is a good go-to that gives good flavor and a good quality cooked noodle. The flavors that I enjoy are Chicken and Beef, but all of them are acceptable.


Mama is a Thai noodle brand that really turns he traditional noodle experience backwards. Mama comes with not only a dry seasoning packet, but a packet of herbs and a chili oil. This can add a bit of heat and complexity to the otherwise standard noodle flavor. The cooked noodles can be kind of squishy if you let them go too long, so be careful. Also, Mama is stingy: she kind of shorts you on the amount of noodles. The small packs of Mama are only about half the size of a regular noodle block. The best flavors: Pork and Tom Yum (shrimp).


Samyang is a Korean noodle brand that has, by far, the richest broth of any noodle I've ever had. Mrs. Breh Swears by 'em. Standard cooked noodle texture, and a solid decision. The only flavor I've ever had is beef. if you have any other experience with other flavors, let me know.

These noodles are probably going to be a bit more expensive, but again, it's worth it. Part 1 of Swagging Out Your Lame Ass Ramen is complete! Part 2: Add-ons. 

Step 2: Add-Ons

Naked ramen is lame ass ramen. Adding things to a bowl of ramen is the best way to up the flavor and texture, and overall edible-ness of it. Also, a splash of color and different texture makes the bowl look more appealing. What follows is a list of things (categorized of course) that, when added to your ramen, give it mucho swag. I haven't used the majority of these things in my ramen yet, but I'm definitely going to try them the next time. You can even make your own seasoning to forgo the seasoning packet with onion powder, ground ginger, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt.

Spices/Oils/Condiments: southeast Asian spices/oils are best here.
  • white pepper
  • sezchuan pepper
  • red chili flakes
  • fish sauce
  • animal fats
  • soy sauce
  • sriracha
  • vinegar
  • citrus juices (a splash of lemon or lime does wonders for a spicy bowl)
  • soy sauce
Vegetables: Frozen is just as good as fresh. I personally use sugar snap peas and broccoli. Longer cooking vegetables like these (as well as cauliflower, carrots, corn, snap and snow peas) are best boiled or steamed for thirty seconds before adding to a brothy bowl of soup. Other items, like thinly-sliced cabbage, lettuce, bean sprouts, and baby spinach can be added to the bowl right before serving. Herbs like thai basil and mint, and green onions slide in some additional flavor.  Vegetables are the number one way to increase texture in a bowl of ramen, and also add a jolt of healthiness to an otherwise unhealthy dish. 

Meat/Eggs: This is tricky. Eggs can be added hard boiled or fried to the dish bibimbap style, or added raw to the boiling noodles egg-drop soup style. Poached eggs, if you're that cold at poaching, can also be added. Adding meat to a bowl of ramen makes it a hearty meal. You could go the pho route, and add thinly sliced flank steak or pork to your bowl. The key here is to cook the meat while the noodles are simmering. Because the meat is thin, the boiling water will cook it quickly and thoroughly. 

Broth: The standard package of ramen calls for two cups of water, but sometimes the measurements are metric. For a regular sized package of ramen, I usually put in three cups. Why? 1.) It dilutes the concentrated flavor and salt of the seasoning packet. 2.) It gives you room to play around with cooking other things in the boiling water, and 3.) the water gives you a nice broth that makes room for your additions and helps with the melding of all the flavors. 

I've shown you how to swag out a bowl of lame ramen, turning it from standard blah fare into faux pho or some other creation of your own. It's important to remember that with spices and other flavors, cooking times may vary and you might do good to leave out half of the seasoning packet.

A Breh Wants to Know: Have you ever swagged out a limp, lame pack of ramen? If so, hit the comments with your suggestions! 


  1. Man! This is sooo funny and interesting! I'm gonna have to try this!

  2. Not a fan of eggs in my ramen, but meat and veggies are great. And I've experimented with Korean kinds (my freshman yr roomie was straight from the land) & have to admit....they go. I still hold it down for the pink and blue packs, tho.