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By J. Kenji López-Alt
Looking back, I think I've cooked more instant ramen than any other food in my life (with the exception, perhaps, of chocolate chip cookies
). It's what I fixed when I was home alone as a kid. It was a staple that got me through college. It's what I make for myself when I come home too tipsy to do anything but boil water and knock back some aspirin. Its salty, potent broth has nursed me through countless hangovers.
To put it simply: Instant noodles occupy a particularly warm, savory soft spot in my heart, and I'm willing to bet this is the case for a large number of you out there as well.
But, for all its pleasures — the salty, MSG-laden broth, those little, freeze-dried veggie nubs, the slippery, way-too-soft noodles — instant noodles, even the best of them
, could never be considered healthy or satisfying in any form other than the basest. Wouldn't it be great if you could get all of the convenience and pleasure of those single packs — the portability, the just-add-water prep, the lunch-sized portions — but in a dish filled with fresh vegetables and real, honest-to-goodness flavor?
Here's a secret: You can. And, it's easier than you think.
I often get unduly excited by good food and clever ideas, even (or especially) when they aren't my own. The original inspiration for this recipe came last week as I was unpacking one of my 37 boxes of cookbooks after moving across the country. I accidentally dropped my prized signed copy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg,
and it flopped open to a page I must have glossed over in the past. On that page Hugh has a recipe called "DIY 'Pot' Noodles" (what we call Cup Noodles or instant ramen over here).