I set out a goal with this recipe. The cheapest possible dish that could still be called ramen if you have a lot of imagination. Like, really, for people who want to serve a home cooked meal of ramen but don’t want any special ingredients nor wants to spend money. First I tried to define the very basics of a ramen dish, what is the “minimum viable product”? Then I stripped the dish off everything I could. Left was an umami packed soup and noodles. Then I went on to make those noodles and soup as cheaply as possible. This is my take on zero budget ramen recipe for four people.
First make an umami packed juice
- 300 grams of button mushrooms, the cheapest kind
- Ten pinches of salt
- A cloth or sieve (cloth is better)
- A container of some kind
- Slice the mushroom
- Put them in a cloth
- Sprinkle with salt
- Hang the cloth above a container, or put the cloth into sieve an place it above the container
- After about 2 hours (or even better, over night in the refrigerator), squeeze the remain liquid out of the mushrooms, into the container
- Now you have an umami packed, salty brown liquid. We’re going to use that.
Now the soup
- 1/2 onion
- neutral oil (e.g. canola)
- 1 large clove of garlic (about the size of your thumb)
- 1 piece of ginger (also about the size of your thumb)
- A cube of chicken stock (you know, the cheap one that stores forever)
- 100 grams of button mushrooms
- 1 litre of water
- A tablespoon of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of vinegar (a neutral one, like rice vinegar, but use anything you have home. Juice from a lemon will do)
- Cut half the onion into tiny cubes.
- Peel the garlic.
- Peel the ginger using a spoon, the skin is delicate, it easily peels of with a spoon.
- Heat up some oil in a saucepan
- Grate the garlic and ginger into the saucepan
- Let it fry for a minute or so on medium heat
- Add the onion
- Stock cube
- And water
- Let it boil for about 20 minutes, without the lid off (want to have some of that water evaporate)
- Add the “umami juice” you made
- Vinegar and sugar
- Taste it. If it needs more salt, add some salt.
Budget noodles and garnish
I’ll fake the consistency of noodles by using pasta, and boil it in alkaline water. The water will be alkalinised by adding bicarbonate of soda. It’s not the best solution in the world, but it works somewhat.
- 1/2 onion
- Spaghetti or “angel hair” (the thinner spaghetti)
- 4 eggs (or 2 if each guest gets only half an egg, we’re on a budget here!)
- Bicarbonate of soda (Or baking powder, but that won’t do as well at all)
- Bring water to a boil.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate per liter of water.
- Boil the pasta. Usually about 8 minutes for spaghetti.
- Wash the pasta thoroughly under cold water. It will remove the slightly metallic flavour from the bicarbonate, but also stops the cooking. We’re still putting it in warm soup, so don’t overcook it.
- As you can feel, the pasta has a more elastic consistency, more like noodles rather than the durum wheat pasta that it is.
- Boil the eggs. I like my yolk runny, so a room temperatured egg is to be boiled for 6,5 minutes. A refrigerated egg for 7,5 minutes.
- Chop the onion. Normally, you’d add scallions, but this is a budget meal, no scallions for you!
- Serve the noodles in the soup. Top with egg, mushrooms that were boiled with the soup, and some chopped onions.