We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, Top Ramen sort of folks here. Even my college boys don't like it and instead prefer miso and soba noodles, which requires basically the same amount of brain power and energy output as Top Ramen but with significantly better and undeniably healthier results.
Then the other night I heard my husband laughing in the office. Like, really laughing. Turns out he'd stumbled upon this YouTube sensation, Auntie Fee, cooking Top Ramen for ten people.
I hesitate to include this link, because it certainly divides people into two categories: those with a sense of humor who can see the absurdity in this, and those who will never read this blog again. If it makes you feel any better, this woman is nowhere near as poor as she seems in this older video (as you can see in the appliances and background home in later cooking tutorials she's posted), and has now appeared on practically every network station, late night talk show, and cable channel.
If you're too uptight for a few f-bombs, don't watch this. I suggest all my camp friends watch this with the express intent of imagining what the kitchen would be like at camp with Auntie Fee as head cook:
Back to my post, for anyone who's still willing to keep reading after watching that video.
So while we've never packed with Top Ramen, I do know many backpackers who swear by it and who don't mind the (bland, boring, nasty, etc.) taste because it's so light and so cheap. Fine, I understand.
But with just a few tiny additions, all ridiculously light and easy, you can have what just might be the very best hot and sour soup ever -- it certainly trumps our favorite standby Ken Hom hot and sour soup recipe that we've been using at home since the early 80's.
(main course for 1 very hungry hiker; starter or main course for 2 if you're having something else, too)
1 scallion, chopped
1 small handful cilantro, chopped
Better Spice Packet (see below)
1 T soy sauce
1-2 T cider or rice vinegar
2 t sesame oil
1 package Top Ramen, any flavor, because you're throwing the "flavor" packet away anyway
1/2 oz dehydrated shitake mushrooms (about 8-10)
1/4 cup dehydrated sun dried tomatoes
1/4 t sesame seeds
1/4 t chili flakes
At Home Instructions:
- Vacuum seal the scallions and cilantro in one bag. (* OR -- dehydrate them first, if you have a dehydrator at home)
- Make the Better Spice Packet. You want equal parts salt, sugar, and pepper, a little less than 1/2 t each. Add a pinch of chile powder, ginger, onion powder, and garlic powder. Seal in foil, in a baggie, or however you choose to take spices when you hike (see the store section of our website for some terrific spice carriers!)
- Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Seal or place in small plastic containers -- however you choose to pack liquids when you hike. (We've found that the little vinegar bottles you get in gourmet food samplers around the holidays are perfect; they're also available at Cost Plus year round)
At the Site Instructions:
- Rehydrate your mushrooms and whatever else you brought dehydrated (scallions and cilantro). Tomatoes generally don't need pre-soaking before adding them to the soup. Save your mushroom liquid -- it's a terrific soup addition!
- Break up Top Ramen into a cooking pot (or large bowl). Add about 3 cups water and allow to soak for a few minutes.
- Add Better Spice Packet and your liquid seasonings (soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil).
- Cut rehydrated mushrooms in half or quarters, if they're especially large. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro to the soup. Add the extra mushroom dehydrating water, being careful not to add any grit that was loosened from the mushrooms and is now sitting on the bottom of your rehydrating cup.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chili flakes.
This is a terrific last-day meal, because you can add any extra protein you may have leftover from the night before.