I still remember the first time I tried instant ramen during my high school years. It was so salty, but in that good junk food kind of way that was appealing to me as a teenager. My friend who served it to me prepared it by soaking the noodles in hot water until they were soft, draining the liquid, and then tossing the seasoning packet with the wet noodles until it dissolved. This made it extra salty, but considering my favorite food at the time was Cool Ranch Doritos, I didn’t mind. These days, I prefer more traditional ramen.
I consider myself very lucky to live in DC, where I live close to some fantastic ramen restaurants like Toki Underground and Ren’s Ramen. However, I also like making it at home because the soup comes together very quickly (in 15 minutes unless I’m adding meat), and I always have the ingredients on hand. Well, let me rephrase that. I don’t keep instant ramen around; I prefer to buy packages of ramen noodles without the seasoning packets. However, since those aren’t available in every grocery store, I’ve created a version here that will work with standard grocery store instant ramen. Whatever ramen noodles you can find will work here. Keep an eye on the weight of the packages since brands might vary slightly. You can also swap out the ramen for soba or udon noodles, just adjust the cooking time according to package instructions. I think shiitake mushrooms add a really wonderful flavor to the broth, but you could also use cremini or button mushrooms if that’s your preference, or you already have them on hand.
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade, otherwise use low sodium
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 (3-ounce) packages instant ramen, seasoning packed discarded (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup scallions, sliced thin
- optional: kosher salt to taste
- In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, and oyster sauce. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 4-5 minutes. This will infuse the mushroom flavor into the broth.
- Add the ramen noodles and turn the heat up to medium. Cook until the noodles are al dente, stirring periodically, approximately 4 minutes (or according to package instructions). Stir in the sesame oil and scallions. Add salt to taste, if desired.