By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Ramen, ramen, ramen; different manufacturers have
different styles of noodles. A new cookbook uses ramen
as the basis for more substantial meals.


That quick-fix meal-in-a-bowl
is the basis of a host of hearty entrees

By Catherine Kekoa Enomoto

Ramen is a Japanese dish of noodles, served in broth, often with vegetables and bits of meat. Its aroma invites. Its warmth and soft chewiness soothe. Its savoriness satisfies.

This timeless staple can be traced back more than two millenia, to 100 B.C. China.

Then, in 1958, Momofuko Ando revolutionized the wheat noodle into instant-style, deep-fried noodles that usually are sold in cellophane packages, sometimes with bits of dehydrated vegetables and broth mix. Behold, the dawn's early light of zap cookery.

Ando went on to found and become chairman of Nissin Foods, purveyor of instant ramen, whose worldwide sales have increased 12 percent annually during the last decade.

"In this, the age of eat and run, ramen noodles seem a godsend," write Elizabeth Prungel and Heather Spyker, co-authors of the "Top Ramen Noodle Cookbook" (Prima, 1995, $10.95). "They are quick easy and inexpensive to make.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers.

"Ramen noodles have resisted inflation better than any other product in America. While there's no such thing as a free lunch, with ramen noodles, there is an almost free lunch!" add the former college roommates, who parlayed their one-burner cuisine into a collection of 175-plus recipes.

Their 222-page cookbook features chapters on appetizers, soups, entrees without meat, entrees with beef and pork, entrees with fish and poultry, salads and side dishes, breakfast and brunch, and desserts.

Recipes include ramen latkes, ramen and bean soup, easy ramen puttanesca, and honey lemon chicken and ramen. Also, layered ramen and vegetable salad, super brunch bake, and warm ramen pudding with raisins.

In effect, one can substitute instant ramen for fresh ramen, fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles and Italian pasta, according to Nina Simonds, author of "Asian Noodles" (Hearst Books, 1997, $21).

Simonds notes that ramen traditionally is served with meat and vegetables in stock. However, "Top Ramen Noodle Cookbook" recipes follow transforming ramen into stuffed bell peppers, lasagna, seafood paella, Shanghai-style stir-fry, and baked apple dessert. And, the realms of rah-rah ramen possibilities stretch ad infinitum.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

2 large green, red or yellow bell peppers
1 package ramen, finely crushed (no seasoning packet)
1 egg
1 cup spaghetti sauce
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan.

To make pepper shells, cut off tops of peppers and pull out the insides, leaving hollow shells. Prepare noodles as directed, boiling 1-1/2 minutes only; drain. Mix noodles, egg and sauce; stuff mixture into peppers. Top each pepper with 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until pepper is cooked through. Makes 2 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 200 calories, 9 grams total fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 900 milligrams sodium.*

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Ramen Lasagne.

Ramen Lasagna

1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cups spaghetti sauce
2 packages ramen (beef flavor)
1 pound part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon EACH salt and pepper
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

In a large saucepan, brown ground beef and onion. Add spaghetti sauce; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Prepare noodles as directed, boiling 1-1/2 minutes only; drain.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, egg, parsley, salt and pepper.

In a nonstick baking pan, layer as follows: 1/2 of meat sauce, noodles and ricotta mixture; repeat, ending with remaining meat sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle top with Parmesan and cover with foil. Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more until cheese is browned. Makes 4 servings.

Note: To reduce sodium content, omit soup base and salt, and reduce amount of Parmesan.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, based on 4 tablespoons Parmesan: 770 calories, 44 grams total fat, 21 grams saturated fat, 150 milligrams cholesterol, 2,600 milligrams sodium.*

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Paella the Easy Way.

Paella the Easy Way

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 can (16 ounces) tomatoes, crushed in liquid
1/2 chicken breast, cut in bite-size pieces (1 cup)
1/4 pound uncooked small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small can (6 to 8 ounces) clams, drained
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Dash cayenne pepper
Pinch saffron, optional
2 packages ramen (no seasoning packet)
Coarsely ground black pepper as garnish

In a large skillet, saute garlic in oil 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Add chicken, cover and simmer on moderate heat 10 minutes or until chicken is mostly cooked. Add shrimp and simmer until shrimp turns pink. Add clams, oregano, cayenne, saffron; simmer 5 minutes more.

Prepare noodles as directed; drain. Toss chicken mixture with noodles and top with black pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 17 grams total fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 90 milligrams cholesterol, 1,330 milligrams sodium.*

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Shanghai Pork Surprise.

Shanghai Pork Surprise

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup snow peas, tips and strings removed
1/2 cup cooked, cubed lean pork
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 package ramen (pork flavor)

In a wok, heat peanut oil and saute garlic and scallions 2 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots and snow peas; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add pork and soy sauce; stir to coat.

Prepare noodles as directed; drain. Serve stir-fry over noodles. Makes 2 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 380 calories, 18 grams total fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 2,000 milligrams sodium.*

Baked Apple Ramen

1 medium apple, peeled and sliced
1 package ramen, crushed (no seasoning packet)
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup whole milk or cream
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place apple slices on bottom of a small lightly oiled casserole dish; top with crushed raw noodles. Sprinkle raisins over noodles. Pour milk or cream over layers; add more, if needed, for noodles to absorb. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until warmed through and noodles are soft. Make 2 servings.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving, made with milk: 370 calories, 10 grams total fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 850 milligrams sodium. Per serving, with cream: 450 calories, 20 grams total fat, 11 grams saturated fat, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 840 milligrams sodium.*

Beyond Ramen: 68 Varieties

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