Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hangover Ramen

I just started a new job at  winery tasting room, and after my first day of work they shooed the last customer out of the store, set the opened bottles from the day's tastings on the bar, and handed out wine glasses. As the new kid, it was my duty to taste all six and my privilege not to have to spit it out. Everyone else poured themselves glasses of their favorite reds and whites while I made my way through all six.

When I woke up this morning, I wasn't hungover like crazy, but I could feel my body craving some salt and protein and probably some iron, too. I usually long for that combination after a night of drinking, but instead of getting a burrito or a personal pizza with dark green veggies (I don't know how much protein that has, but it usually fixes me right up), I decided I wanted soup. Seeing as I was unemployed for several months before starting my first day of work and haven't been paid yet, I couldn't justify spending $8 some veggie noodle soup from the nearby pho place in my city.

My solution? Ramen.

I had never tried making ramen any differently from cooking the noodles and adding the seasoning packet, but I knew that today I needed my soup to pack more a punch where both protein and iron were concerned, and I wanted it to be as cheap as possible. So I decided to try something new.

I went to the grocery store and bought these supplies:

Chili flavored Top Ramen*- $0.30
Firm tofu- $2.15
12 eggs- $1.70
Total- $4.15

This is how I made the soup:

I put the water on to boil, following the instructions on the package. While I waited for the water to boil I whisked the eggs together in a bowl. I set that aside and opened the package of tofu. I poured the water from the package into a tupperware container, so I could marinate the leftover tofu for tomorrow. One serving of tofu, according to the package, is about 1/5 of the package, so I cubed one fifth of the tofu and set that aside. The rest I sliced and put into the tupperware container with the water to marinate later.

When the water boiled I added the noodles and the tofu. When the noodles were about ready, I added the egg, stirring the pot so that they wouldn't stick to the bottom. I took the pot off the heat and added only about 1/4** of the seasoning packet, although you can include as much as you want.

It tasted pretty good, although a little bit bland, because I omitted most of the seasoning packet. It did make me feel more rejuvenated and filled me up really well. I think in the future, I'll buy some spinach or some other vegetable to include as well. To make up for using less of the seasoning packet, I think I will mix some powdered onion, garlic, and ginger into the broth next time as well. Altogether, though, I was pretty happy with the results of my experiment and will probably make this again soon.

As for the tofu I set aside for marinating, I mixed in some powdered spices, soy sauce, oil, and water, covered it, and put it in the fridge overnight. I don't know how it will turn out, but I will update you if it turns out the be a success.

*Chili and Oriental flavored Top Ramen are vegetarian... except for the possibility of one ingredient listed on the package. Natural flavor. This is what I found when I looked up exactly what "natural flavor" is. Natural flavor can come from a lot of different sources. Some of them are vegetarian and vegan friendly, others are not. When I made my ramen, I elected to roll the dice and take the chance of ingesting some animal byproducts by including the seasoning packet. If you don't want to take the chance I would suggest a splash of soy sauce, and some powdered onion, garlic, and ginger. I haven't tried that mix myself, but I do know that when I make Campbell's Tomato Soup, adding a few pinches of powdered onion and garlic makes all the flavor difference in the world.

**I get freaked out by huge amounts of sodium. 1 package of Chili Top Ramen contains 2 servings, with 780 mg of sodium per serving.That's 1560 mg of sodium. The recommended daily allowance of sodium is 2,300 mg (the equivalent of 1 tsp of table salt) for healthy adults. Knowing that I was going to eat the whole package and not wanting to eat 68% of my recommended sodium for the day in one sitting, I elected to include less of the seasoning packet and make up for the decreased flavor with lots of black pepper.

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