Did you know that the Japanese voted instant noodles as the best invention of the 20th century? With more than 100 billion servings slurped up every year, you can bet that many more agree - there’s nothing quite like a warm, tasty bowl of instant noodles!
Asian instant noodles have become more than just a quick meal; they're a global sensation. From late-night cravings to busy lunch breaks, they cater to all. Ready to explore this delightful world? Let's dive right in.
What are instant noodles?
Instant noodles are pre-cooked noodles that are fried and dried before being packaged into small packets, bowls or cups. Instant noodles are a popular Asian snack, typically accompanied by a several sachets of seasoning, which may include sauces, oils, dried seasoning or even vegetables and pre-cooked meat.
What are instant noodles made of?
Instant noodles are typically made from wheat flour, water, salt and kansui (an alkaline water) that adds elasticity to noodles. These ingredients are combined and kneaded into dough before being cut into noodles.
Who invented instant noodles?
Momofuku Ando invented instant noodles in 1958 amidst post-war Japan's food shortages, aiming to create a quick, convenient, and long-lasting food solution. He revolutionised noodle preservation by developing a flash-frying method that ensured both longevity and ease of preparation. Ando's invention swiftly became a global culinary staple, symbolising innovation in the face of adversity.
Why are instant noodles so popular?
There are three main reasons why instant noodles are so widely popular!
Firstly, they are a delicious comfort food that come in a wide range of flavours to cater to different taste buds. These days, you can find flavours from garlic chicken, tonkatsu, tom yum, spicy beef-style and more on supermarket shelves.
Secondly, instant noodles are famed for their convenience and simplicity. In their simplest form, all you need to do is to add boiling water, and wait for a few minutes. Then, voila, you have a meal ready to go that tastes not too dissimilar from the some of the most popular types of Asian noodles.
Finally, instant noodles are inexpensive often costing less than £1 per meal, making them an economical choice. What's not to love?
How to cook instant noodles and what to eat with them?
Cooking instant noodles is wonderfully simple and offers a great opportunity to get creative as they provide an excellent base for a variety of additional ingredients.
We put together this rough step-by-step guide to help you learn how to cook instant noodles.
It's important to note that steps may vary by pack or brand so please read the cooking instructions on the packaging carefully. Some brands may also allow you to cook the instant noodles in a microwave, in which case you should follow the specific instructions given.
Start by boiling water in a kettle or saucepan. For packet noodles, you'll need enough water to submerge the noodles completely in a saucepan. For cup noodles, just enough to fill the cup to the indicated line.
Cook the Noodles:
For packet noodles, once the water is boiling, open the packet and place the noodles in the saucepan. For cup noodles, simply open the lid, remove the sachets, and pour the boiling water into the cup up to the marked line. If there are any sachets of soup bases or dried vegetables / meats included, add them now.
Simmer and Stir:
Let the noodles cook for the time recommended on the package, usually around 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and to prevent sticking.
Serve and Enjoy:
Once the noodles are cooked to your liking, pour the noodles into a bowl if they're in a saucepan, or simply remove the lid if they're in a cup.
How to make instant noodles taste better?
Enhancing the taste of instant noodles is easy and fun, and may even make your meal healthier.
Once cooking, throw in some protein for more substance - a runny egg, leftover roast chicken or some fish balls work great. Load up on veggies such as leafy greens, mushrooms, or sweetcorn to increase the nutritional value of your noodles.
Then experiment with different ramen toppings or sauces to personalise it to your taste - spring onions, fried garlic chips, hot sauce such as sriracha or chilli oil or sesame oil are some great options to try.
Basically, don't hesitate to experiment! It’s quite challenging to go wrong with Asian instant noodles although if you’re looking for some tried and tested instant ramen recipes, here are a few of our favourites to get you going.
What are the best instant noodle brands?
There are numerous instant noodle brands that stand out for their unique flavours and quality. If we had to list down every brand of instant noodles we enjoyed eating, then we would end up with an encyclopaedia. But if we really had to choose, here are some of our top picks for the best instant noodle brands on the market!
- Nongshim (South Korea): Nongshim's signature offering, Shin Ramyun, is renowned for its rich and spicy flavour. This Korean-style noodle is a hearty, satisfying option for anyone seeking a spicy kick in their meal.
- Indomie (Indonesia): Indomie's Mi Goreng is a beloved staple, bringing the authentic taste of Indonesian street food into homes worldwide. These stir-fried noodles are celebrated for their aromatic spices and delightful taste, perfect for a quick, flavourful meal.
- Mama (Thailand): Mama stands out for its Tom Yum Shrimp flavour, encapsulating the essence of Thai cuisine. The tangy and spicy broth paired with its noodles offers a true taste of Thailand’s vibrant street food culture.
- Itsuki Ramen (Japan): Itsuki Ramen from Japan is a celebrated choice among noodle connoisseurs. Known for its diverse selection and authentic flavours, especially its Kyushu Tonkotsu Pork Ramen, Itsuki offers a premium ramen experience.
To sum up, Asian instant noodles are a flexible, convenient, and delicious choice for a quick meal. Whether you're enjoying them as a snack or transforming them into a gourmet feast with added ingredients, their global appeal is undeniable. Remember to enjoy them in moderation and explore the vast array of flavours and styles available. Happy slurping!