Versatile Ramen. AKA the perfect dish to use up all of your leftover shit. Woo!
Whenever I know that I will be gone for a prolonged period of time, I try to use up everything in my fridge. The last thing I want to have is rotting food and a terrible smell when I come back to school. With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m trying to do just that. I hate throwing away food. Not just for the moral reasons (which are of course the most important to me, duh) but also because I have a grad student stipend. When I spend money on stuff that probably isn’t necessary like bottles of red wine, fleur de sal, and vanilla beans, I have to make sure that I save money as much as possible.
I tend to have strange small leftovers of stuff like carrots from weird cooking experiments. And call me crazy, but I tend to not eat the healthy stuff in my fridge that often. I usually end up eating eggs and cookies on the reg. That means I have to get more creative with using up all of those loose ends in my fridge. Ramen has become my favorite vehicle for that. Whether you’re the magical David Chang or not, ramen is delicious and super easy to make your own.
But first, I’m going to gross you all out for a second. Do you know how your food goes bad? Teeny tiny spoilage microorganisms are responsible for the demise of your lettuce and bread. Unlike the bacteria you hear about all the time that make you sick like Salmonella and E. coli, spoilage microorganisms aren’t harmful. They’re just disgusting.
There are tons of different spoilage microorganisms. Bacteria, yeasts, and molds all love to eat the sugars in your foods and release enzymes. These enzymes eventually break down other components in your food. Amylases break down the starch in your food, proteases break down the protein, etc. These are major structural components, so when they break down, they cause the food tissue to soften. You can blame your soft and wilty foods on that one.
When these major components break down, the cells in the food break down too. There is a bunch of water in cells, so when the cells lyse, the water is released. That’s why there is almost always a gross puddle of liquid under your produce when you realize it has gone bad. Spoilage microbes can also cause terrible smells. Some of them have stinky gas byproducts after they start eating the sugars in your food. You won’t start to realize these things until your food is pretty far gone especially if you store your food in the fridge. The cold temperatures of the fridge slow down the spoilage process, and a lot of microorganisms can’t grow.
Now that you’re terrified of spoiling food, use them for a meal tonight! I had some errant carrots, cilantro, peas, and tuna. Add some sriracha and an egg for good measure, and you’re well on your way to a delicious ramen.
1 packet of Top Ramen (I had chicken flavor)
A few ounces of tuna
A handful of cilantro, chopped
A dozen baby carrots, cut into semi-smallish pieces
Vegetable or chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
A glug of red wine
Sriracha, pepper, and salt to taste
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook your tuna, cilantro, carrots, olive oil, and about two teaspoons of sriracha. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flavor packet that comes with your ramen to the saucepan and stir well while heating.
2. After about 2 minutes (the tuna should brown very slightly), deglaze the saucepan with a glug of red wine. This is optional, but I like the flavor.
3. Add your dried noodles, breaking them up so that they fit and add your stock to cover. Add your peas and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the noodles are almost done. Crack an egg on top of the ramen soup and cover. Continue heating until your egg is to your liking. Remove from heat.
4. For serving, add extra salt, pepper, and sriracha to your liking.