I know what you’re thinking. A recipe for instant ramen? Don’t you just follow the directions on the package—boil water, dump in noodles and spice packets, and “stir occasionally”?
For some, this vague and imprecise approach produces a satisfactory result. The noodles are warm, the broth is seasoned. But, as I found out when writing my cookbook,Koreatown, Koreans have a ramen process that makes for a better bowl.
And Koreans should know. It’s said that, on average, South Koreans eat 80 bags per person annually, which is a hell of a lot of instant noodles, and reason I look to the Koreans for instant ramen tutelage. Most of that ramen is Shin Ramyun (shin means “spicy” in Korean, and ramyun is the Korean word for ramen, a Japanese word). The following step-by-step directions for preparing a standard four-ounce package of ramen was developed with Shin, but it will work with Japanese, Chinese and Malaysian brands as well.
1. BOIL THE WATER, ADD THE SEASONING PACKETS
Bring 2 ½ cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the soup base and vegetable mix. Boil for 1 minute.
Even mediocre meatballs taste pretty good to me, but when the stars align and I taste a bowl of moist, robust meatballs; a well-balanced tomato sauce; and perfectly al dentepasta, the experience is downright transcendent. Happily, it turns out that achieving spaghetti and meatball bliss doesn’t require an Italian grandmother or a trip to your favorite red sauce restaurant; it can happen at home. I know, because I’ve spent the past few weeks in the Epicurious test kitchen, creating the best-ever version of this comfort food classic.
I began by cooking batches of the six highest-rated spaghetti and meatball recipes on our site. After the kitchen team scrutinized what we liked (and didn’t like) about each one, I headed back to the kitchen to create a Frankenrecipe—a recipe inspired by our favorite elements from each rendition. After several rounds of testing (trust me, no one around here complained), I created a recipe for Our Favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs. Here’s what it entailed:
START WITH A GREAT TOMATO SAUCE
The tomato sauce recipe from The Frankies Sputino cookbook won our taste test with its concentrated tomato flavor and garlicky undertones. We used this recipe as
½ lb Brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 medium potatoes, cut in cubes
2 medium carrots, julienne cut
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup rice, washed and drained
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt to taste
A pinch of fresh black pepper
1-11/2 cup hot water
Saute the onions with olive oil over medium heat and then add the tomato paste. Stir in carrots and potatoes. Cook for 2 minutes and add the Brussels sprouts and rice. Cook for 2 more minutes tossing gently. Finally stir in the hot water and salt to taste. Close the lid and cook over medium low heat until the rice and the vegetables are cooked (about 30 min).
Sprinkle with freshly grinded black pepper and serve hot.
*This is a vegetarian dish
1 ½ cups cooked salmon OR canned salmon, drained
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt to taste
1 cup corn meal (optional)
Place salmon in a medium mixing bowl. Flake apart with a fork; remove any bones and skin. Add egg, onions, parsley, celery, salt and pepper; mix well. Shape the mixture into 8 patties, about 2-3 inches wide. If desired roll them in corn meal (optional).
Heat the olive oil in the pan over medium heat. Cook salmon patties until the undersides are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.
2 English muffins, split and toasted
1 Tbsp softened unsalted butter
2 cups packed spinach leaves, chopped or whole
1 tsp vinegar
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp water
Pinch of salt to taste
2 pinches of freshly ground pepper
6-8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the sauce, set over a pot of barely simmering water in a heatproof bowl, combine the egg yolks, lemon and water and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, then continue whisking for about 1 minute more. Remove the bowl from over the pan as soon as the mixture thickens. Add the salt and pepper. Blend the mixture with a stick blender while slowly pouring in the melted butter in a thin stream until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Cover and keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.
Lightly spread the cut side of each muffin with 1/2 tsp of the softened butter. Melt the remaining 1 tsp butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until slightly wilted, about 2-4 minutes. Keep them warm until served. Fill a deep pan with 1/2 inch water to poach the eggs, leave the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Crack