It's a new year, and of course, that means it's time to break out the resolutions. My resolution this year, besides losing 10 pounds (which has been on the resolutions list since 2005), includes knocking out some of the convenience foods that I know I shouldn't eat by making them just as convenient and without all the junk inside.
Bad eating habits for me usually come when I find myself in a proverbial pickle: when I don't have any leftovers (that's how we roll, usually) and I don't have anything that I can whip up quickly. It happens. I get lazy. I have stuff to do. Sometimes I just crave something salty (I don't use much). These are the problems we all face, regardless of how much time we spend at home in the kitchen.
And that's when the fast and bad things like the chicken Cup Noodles sing to me successfully.
You probably know someone who's addicted to instant ramen. You may even have one living in your own house (they usually disguise themselves as teenagers and college students). But if you know anything about label-reading, you possibly also know that instant ramen is one of the worst foods one could indulge in when they're having a "need food fast now" crisis.
Aside from the fact that they've got an untasty-looking ingredient list, they're really high in salt (like 44-62% of your RDA), contain MSG, are made using propylene glycol to keep them fresh and not stuck together in some brands, and they're often "cooked" in a styrofoam cup which contains BPA and, though recyclable, sits unrecycled in landfills more often than not. Oh, and it may cause metabolic syndrome and your body takes forever to break down the noodles, possibly due to tertiary-Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), a petroleum-derived preservative agent.
If none of those reasons are reason enough for you to want to make your own instant ramen, well then picture this: if you have sensitivities to MSG, or intolerance to gluten, or you happen to be vegan, now you can eat the College Food of Champions, too. With this blueprint, you can style to your needs and wants. You can make delicious food combinations that the instant noodle industry has never heard of. It's freezable in its own BPA-free reusable glass mason jar so you can grab and go and not worry about consuming weird endocrine disruptors or making Captain Planet weep tears of despair.
You can drag it with you any place that has a microwave oven (oh yes, did I mention that because we're making it in a mason jar with a removable lid, you can cook it in the microwave?) And thus, you can save money by not eating out at lunch. And you'll also keep the doctor off your back, because you're eating less salt.
YOU have the power.
Just remember, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, kiddies.
I released a key part of the recipe over on my own blog with my own special blend of garlic-and-onion-heavy homemade vegetable bouillon last month... the recipe makes almost 1 litre of bouillon... enough to make more ramen than the most ambitious teenager herd could eat in a year (I think). The product freezes beautifully, and remains soft enough to spoon out straight from the freezer.
If you worry about using that much up, well then grab a heaping spoonful for the stock pot every time you make soup, and I think you'll be pleased with the results!
The other part was sourcing a decent chicken base paste for this chicken variant noodle cup, and I can tell you what I recommend... I use the reduced sodium chicken base from Better than Bouillon (they don't pay me; it's just what I use) which has a nice, readable ingredient list. For vegetarian/vegan you can try with just my vegetarian bouillon or with adding their not-chicken/beef base.
I did all the hard work for you. All you have to do is slap everything in a jar and throw it in the freezer till you're ready to use.
Personally, I think it tastes pretty darn close to the, uh, "real" thing.
Add all ingredients one by one to a clean and dry mason jar. If you add mushrooms, you may wish to add them before the pasta so that they're "weighed down" during cooking.
Seal jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 year (assuming they last that long).
*Sub tofu or suitable meat replacement if desired, and chicken base with vegetable bouillon or alterna-chicken base for vegan/vegetarian.
To make noodles:
Unscrew lid and fill to just below the threaded area with cold water.
Microwave on high of 2-3 minutes (from refrigerator) or 3-4 minutes (from frozen), until heated through.
Stir contents thoroughly, and enjoy!