Tag Archives: asian grocery

The Ramen Rater’s Top Ten Instant Noodle Add-Ons Of All Time 2015 Edition

In the last few years, I’ve seen a large amount of articles with titles like ‘Best Ramen Hacks,’ ‘Pimp Your Ramen’ and so on. These titles fall under the category of clickbait – using hipster terminology and such to entice one to click on them. Usually, they’re all things people know about already; vegetables, oils and such. This is a list of my favorite add-ons and garnishes. While some may be familiar to you, others may not be. It’s also geared to help you navigate the Asian Grocery, a place many find to be alien to them but I have found to be one of the most vibrant and wonderful places I visit very regularly. Finally, I also included some tips of storage and how long these products last for those on a tight budget. In no particular order, here’s this new list!

Chinese Sausage

Often found on end caps, either refrigerated or on the shelf. Chinese sausage pairs quite well with spicy, beef, pork, spicy beef and spicy pork varieties from China and Taiwan. They sausage is wrinkly on the outside kind of like a beef stick and has a sweet taste. I freeze these (they’ll last a long time without freezer burn) and then take out a link and slice in thin pieces. They’re easy to slice when frozen. Toss in at any point while cooking the noodles and they’ll add a little protein and a little oiliness to the broth.

Tofu Puff / Tau Pok

These can be found not surprisingly with the myriad of tofu varieties. They’re like little spongy cubes of delight! Just take one out and cut in half (I use kitchen scissors) and drop in your instant noodles. I like them primarily with curries. They often will have 2 weeks on them in the refrigerator – I’ve never frozen them and guess that wouldn’t work very well.

Mung Bean Sprouts

Mung bean sprouts should be pretty easy to get anywhere. I prefer a brand called Salad Cosmo; they seem to stay fresh a lot longer. Mung bean sprouts are very perishable, so get them in the refrigerator as soon as you get home from the store. They have a very short life – maybe 3-5 days refrigerated. They add a nice crunch to any instant noodles.

Fish Cake

There are tons of different kinds of fish cake out there – kamaboko (looks like a little loaf on a piece of wood), narutomaki (a tube with a swirl pattern), and Busan fish cake (a fried South Korean delicacy). Fishcake usually is comprised of processed fish that is steamed or fried. Prep them by slicing thin and put a few pieces in a ziploc and put in the freezer. They tend to stick to eachother, so using multiple ziplocs works best. They’ll stay in good condition frozen for quite a long time. Of course, these work very well with seafood varieties, both Japanese and South Korea, and also in traditional Japanese varieties like shoyu and miso. They’re either refrigerated or frozen at the store.

Cilantro / Coriander

This leafy green is known either by cilantro or coriander. It adds a nice savory flavor to instant noodles when dropped on top as a garnish. The trick with picking coriander is looking at the leaves. If they look saggy or wilted, skip ’em. If you see one lone bunch sitting where many should be, it’s probably going to go bad really quick as well. What I do is get a nice looking bunch and bring it home, give it a rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towl and put in a loose plastic produce bag (grab an extra while shopping) in the crisper in our refrigerator. If your refrigerator runs a little on the cold side, they’ll go bad quicker, but since a bunch usually is under a dollar, just go and get more. Under perfect conditions, they should last 3-4 days.

Korean BBQ Meat

If you want to add beef or pork to your instant noodles and you’re on a budget, this is going to save you a ton of money. Go to where they have the packaged meats. Chances are you’ll find a ton of different cuts of pork and beef – and they’re sliced like bacon! You can find beef sliced this way and get a few pounds for under $10USD . Get a big box of ziplocs and put about 3-4 slices in each one and then put them all in a big freezer ziploc. You can get about 20 portions out of it and all you need to do is either defrost and fry it in a pan or just drop in boiling water and let the fat also flavor your broth.

Fishball

I first discovered Taiwanese fishball – these are hollow and sometimes have crab, or fish eggs inside. I have found I prefer the Malaysian or Singaporean varieties – Dodo brand is quite good. These are solid and come in an array of flavors like cuttlefish, lobster and prawn. These will be at the seafood counter or frozen in bags. Just boil them (for freshly made fishball, boil until they float). These work great in the freezer, but if they get a little freezer burn, they’ll get a little rubbery. I like fishball in seafood and curry varieties.

Eggs

The thin shelled ovum of the domestic fowl can be found at most any grocery store. Fried on Mi Goreng, hard boiled with anything, stirred in with boiling broth, they work very well. I get asked ‘how do you get your eggs look that way’ when I make South Korean varieties sometimes. Well, it’s very common in Korea to simply drop a raw egg yolk ion a steaming hot bowl of ramyun. What I do is crack and egg into a ladle and rock it back and forth, letting the clear white of the egg spill out. There’s a little piece left which I’ll snip away. Drop on top of your noodles and stir it in. Eggs are relatively inexpensive and stay good for a long time.

Pepper Strands (Ito Toiughrasi)

I have only found these once and they were in a large Korean supermarket with the dehydrated chillies and pepper powders. They’re extremely thin threads of chilli pepper that you can put on your instant noodles to give a neat little gourmet look. I found that they add a hint of spiciness to the broth. A bag of these will last forever since you only need to use a small amount. Stoe in a ziploc after opening and put in your cupboard.

Carved Squid

You can buy fresh squid, carve crosshatched slices in it, cut it in strips and boil, or you can just buy a nice bag of frozen carved squid! They’re great in seafood instant noodles and have a nice texture and flavor to them. These will stay fine in the freezer for months – put them in a freezer bag once opened.

 

Got any favorite garnishes? Share them with me in a comment and they might make next years list!

The Ramen Rater For Apple iPhone

I am very proud and happy to introduce the release of The Ramen Rater mobile app for the Apple iPhone! The app is the culmination of many months of work by myself and app developer Calvin Tam of Malaysia (you can see some of his other work here). You may have noticed a while back I posted an ad on the right side asking for folks who might be interested in developing an app with me for mobile users. Well, Calvin answered that call and devoted a great deal of time making this happen! I want to personally thank him for the time and effort expended on this app. Without further adieu, let me introduce you to The Ramen Rater for iPhone!

Welcome! This is the initial screen you will be greeted with. You can quickly scroll through the last 50 reviews and posts.

As you can see, the review’s stats are labeled at the top – title, stars and a shot of the product. Also, instead of the video being at the bottom, it is viewable at the top. Clicking on the video will bring it up in a window.

What you see here is the best part! You can scan a bar code from a package of instant noodles – if I’ve reviewed it, the app will find it and ask if you’d like to see the review! Note – right now, it’s only working correctly for 12 digit UPC bar codes. It likes to omit the first digit of EAN bar codes, which are 13 digits. This will be addressed in an upcoming update.

Finally, you can share the reviews/posts with people across the Internet through social media, email, send it in an SMS text message.

There’s how The Ramen Rater iPhone app v1.0 stands currently! It’s now available in the iTunes Store for $0.99USD. It will work on Apple Iphone, iPad, and iPods running iOS 7.1 and above. Some updates we’re talking about like a simple search box where you can enter info to search for instead of scanning, quick access to top ten lists and more are in the works! If you have any ideas, please feel free to comment! If you do download the app, please give it a good review if you like it! Thanks!

Spicy Noodle Soup From Dumpling House

Yesterday my wife and I were out and about. I needed to find some fresh squid for an upcoming review and we went to KS Mart, a large Korean market in Lynnwood, Washington. We were hungry, and decided to check out the little restaurants inside (it’s common for Korean grocery stores to have small restaurants inside). We decided to give Dumpling House a try.

This line on the menu caught my eye. Jjampong!

Here’s what I was served (click image to enlarge). This was like a religious experience in a bowl! Lots of seafood and great broth and noodles. A lot of food to be sure. The spiciness was reasonable and the chilli peppers in there were lethal – I ate one and decided to just let them be after that!

So if you’re in the Lynnwood/Everett/Edmonds area, you should really check this place out for a bowl of spicy noodles. Like I said above, they’re inside KS Mart, which is also a great place to find a myriad of South Korean instant noodles, snacks and everything you could imagine.

News: The Ramen Box

So whilst on our honeymoon, California had some nice places to get some noodles. The box is overflowing with noodles! It’s really a great thing! So Lots of new varieties to try and review for you soon.

Where To Get It: OC Market Poultry & Rotisserie in Anaheim, CA

This place was awesome! Quite a few varieties of noodles I hadn’t seen before – pretty much the full line of FF bowls and even a Sunlee square bowl. Not only that, but the woman who was at the register was really nice and actually talked to us! A lot of the time at checkouts at Asian groceries I find that the people working there don’t make eye contact or even speak to us at all. One other thing – the place smelled really good – I think that it’d be an excellent place to eat in as well. Highly recommended!

Where To Get It: 99 Ranch Market in Anaheim

So after an awesome day at Lego Land California, we went back North to Anaheim to crash and ready ourselves for Disneyland the next day. Not far from where we stayed was a Ranch 99 Market. This one was different from the others I have been in – there were palm trees out front for starters! Then there was the fact that after you go through the main door there was a little gate you went through. Aside from that, it seemed a little smaller than others too. They had spoken advertising on the overhead speakers – in English – and every time they said ‘per pound’ it was exactly the same and rather amusing! They also played music and I really enjoyed that – really crazy sound track like music that sounded like a bad guy in a movie was creeping up on an unsuspecting victim! Their instant noodle selection was decent, which was very nice. I really liked the place a lot!