Admit it: though we know they’re not the healthiest food, we’ve all reached for a pack of instant noodles at some time or other to fill a hunger gap. But in Korea these deep fried and dried noodles, better known as ramyun, are considered part and parcel of many dishes, and are commonly used instead of freshly-made noodles at restaurants. So don’t be surprised if you see a pack being wedged into your bubbling hotpot.
While noodles have long been slurped in Korea, instant noodles didn’t arrive until the 1960s, after Japanese inventor Momofuku Ando first cooked them up in his kitchen. Compared with fresh noodles, they’re easy to store for a long time and super quick to prepare into something filling. It’s unsurprising that instant noodles became an instant hit in Asia.
The best-selling instant ramyun brand in Korea without a doubt is Shin Ramyun. It’s made by Nongshim, a company set up in 1965, that now has a global network of branches and noodle production plants. The brand has been advertised in America by Psy, who sent his own video to the company to pitch for the job.
It’s easy enough to find Shin Ramyun here in the UK too, as most of the big supermarkets stock it for less than a pound a pack. Asda even has a deal on this week. Make sure to download this cute timer app to help you cook the perfect noodles.
However, if you just rip open the pack, add hot water and the spicy sauce to serve, you’re missing a trick. Many Koreans use ramyun at home as a base to whip up a simple spicy soup stuffed with fresh vegetables, meat and eggs. You can serve it up with rice, kimchi or ttebokki, and throw in extra spicy sauces too.
If you need some inspiration, why not turn to some idols? In Japan, Shin Ramyun was advertised in 2011 by T-ARA, who made their own series of cooking ads with the product. Jiyeon’s ad caused some controversy in Japan, after she was shown tucking into her ramyun, egg and green onion combo straight off the lid. Hey, after dancing all day long these idols are too damn hungry to wait for a bowl…
T-ARA’s Jiyeon shows us how ramyun should be eaten
Eat Your Kimchi share their favourite recipe
Psy’s Shin Ramyun Black advert
How ramyun is made – just mute the patronising American voiceover