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Big in Japan: 5 ways to spice up your Cup Noodles

I love ramen.

For some, it's the heady aroma and subtle flavor of a finely aged cheese. For others, it's the enticing sizzle and juicy goodness of a T-bone steak.

For me, it's gotta be ramen, nature's most perfect food.

Now, while there really is no substitute for handmade ramen noodles floating in zen-like harmony in a steaming bowl of rich and creamy miso broth, sometimes you have to settle for Cup Noodles.

An old standby that's as cheap as it is nourishing, Cup Noodles can be enjoyed beyond your college years, especially if you know how to spice it up. On that note, if you're an aspiring gourmand, or you're just too poor to treat yourself to a proper meal, then today's posting is for you.

Here are 5 ways to make a real meal out of Cup Noodles:

5) Seafood Bisque Here in Japan, the latest craze is to add steaming hot milk to seafood flavored Cup Noodles, which makes a hearty cream soup that is surprisingly filling. This is a great way to stretch your budget as milk fills the belly much better than mere water. And, if you close your eyes and savor the aroma, you can almost convince yourself that you're dining on seafood bisque in an expensive restaurant somewhere by the sea.

Keep reading as the list goes on...

4) Curry Noodles While Cup Noodles around the world come in a variety of flavors, in North America it can be difficult to find one beyond your standard chicken, beef and shrimp. Fret not however as all it takes is a bit of curry powder, turmeric and some garam masala to really spice up your standard Cup Noodles. If you can handle the heat, some crushed red pepper really takes things up a notch.

3) Kimchi Stew While real ramen is something akin to fresh, handmade pasta, Cup Noodles often tastes stale and processed. However, you can get some much-needed fiber in your diet by simply adding kimchi to your noodles. This spicy Korean cabbage soaks up oils and softens in water, and gives you the feeling that you're actually eating something healthy for a change.

2) Vietnamese Pho Processed ramen lacks the delicacy of rice noodles, though a squirt of lime, a dash of plum sauce and some fresh chili peppers can really mask the chemical flavors in Cup Noodles. To really liven this dish up, add some thin slices of beef, preferably tender cuts of sirloin or filet. And of course, top it all off with raw bean sprouts, Asian basil and perhaps some rocket or arugula.

1) Hot Chocolate Ramen I know, I know. This sounds completely gross and entirely inedible, but I can assure you that it's delicious if made properly. Instead of adding the spice packet to your Cup Noodles, add a similar amount of hot chocolate or sweetened cocoa powder, and top it off with hot and foamy milk. The result is a steaming cup of chocolate soup that strangely satisfies the urge for both something salty and something sweet.

Have any tips for spicing up Cup Noodles? Leave a comment, and show off your culinary skills!

** All images are courtesy of the WikiCommons Media Project **

Filed under: Asia, Japan, Big in Japan

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