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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Almost-instant ramen

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Top Ramen and Cup Noodle might be cheap, but constructing a bowl of homemade ramen is easier than you think and more delicious than any bagged soup sitting in your pantry.

Real ramen— not ramen that comes dehydrated with a little “flavor packet”— is somewhat of an art form. Its synergistic bowl of umami flavors is caught in a balancing act among four necessary components:


If you’ve got the time, making a broth from scratch will reward you with a rich and complex broth for your ramen. Fortunately, if you’re in a pinch, basic chicken or vegetable broth works fine.


Tare is what drops the umami bomb into your ramen bowl. It’s the flavor concentrate that is added to the broth that gives ramen the rich, savory flavor we crave for cozy days and cringworthy hangovers. Tare can be anything from miso paste or garlic oil to soy sauce.


You can buy ramen noodles from Asian grocers (like the Asian Market in Chico) or even Trader Joes, but using noodles from instant ramen packages works fine.


  • Meat: Pork belly is popular but not entirely practical for students on a budget. Cheaper ways to sneak some pork vibes into your bowl are to simmer bacon in the broth or fry up either bacon or seasoned ground pork into crispy bits and sprinkle atop your noodles. Alternatively, you can add chicken, seafood, raw cubed tofu or a ramen egg into your bowl.
  • Vegetables: Toasted nori, sliced green onion, chili paste, cabbage, kimchi, corn, mushrooms and sesame seeds are also great toppings. If you’re desperate, simply slice up whatever vegetables you may have and toss them in raw or blanched and dabble in some Sriracha.

While this recipe might not make the most complex and authentic ramen out there, it’s a big step in the right direction away from the sad wannabe ramen that is so strongly associated with college life.

College is stressful, and cooking can be complicated, but as long as you can scrounge up the bare necessities and 15 minutes of kitchen time, you’ll be slurping up your own homemade ramen faster than you can say “noodle dream.”

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Almost instant ramen

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2


2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons ginger, grated

1 large garlic clove, grated

4 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

Optional: A handful of fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms

2 packages of instant ramen noodles

1 ramen egg

Garnish: Green onions, toasted nori, blanched vegetables, chili paste and sesame seeds

Step 1: Broth and tare

In a large pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and let sizzle in the oil for 1-2 minutes. Stir to keep them from burning. Once golden, add the chicken broth, soy sauce (and mushrooms if you are using them) and bring everything to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to concentrate and taste to see if it is balanced

Step 2: Noodles

When your broth is ready, add your noodles straight to the pot and cook as directed on package. Alternatively, you can cook them in a separate pot (but it makes more dishes). Most noodles can be added straight to the broth for efficiency, although some other recipes recommend cooking the noodles in a separate pot.

Step 3: Toppings

Have your toppings ready to go by the time your noodles are done— you might even want to prep them before you start cooking. Add the noodles and broth to a large bowl. Nestle two halves of a ramen egg into your bowl, sprinkle whatever else you’re feeling on top of the noodles and slurp merrily.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.

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