These kinds of meals don’t typically come without a lot of time and effort. However, with a few shortcuts, you can make a bowl of ramen any night of the week in under half an hour.
Ramen need not be a big ordeal of time or fuss, as this weeknight chicken ramen attests. Boost store-bought chicken broth with some flavor enhancers and assemble your bowls in under 30 minutes.
A bowl of ramen is a bowl of comfort. Oodles of soft noodles immersed in a bowl of fragrant broth can send you into weeknight – or late night – heaven.
GREAT RAMEN WITHOUT THE SEASONING PACKET
In Japanese culture and cuisine, ramen has been elevated to a high art form – watch Tampopo if you haven’t seen the movie already. You will become a believer.
It’s also so popular that you can find inexpensive packages of dehydrated ramen noodle soup on every supermarket shelf – quick comfort food slurped by everyone from penniless college students to hungry office workers.
With this weeknight ramen, we’re aiming for a middle ground: bowls filled with chewy noodles, flavorful store-bought chicken stock, a few vegetables, a soft-cooked egg, and slices of chicken.
If you are a good planner, cook a couple of chicken breasts early in the week so it’s ready for the soup. These days you often find fresh ramen noodles in a well-stocked supermarket, but dried noodles are fine, too – just ditch the seasoning packet!
HOW TO MAKE WEEKNIGHT RAMEN
This quick weeknight ramen depends on store-bought chicken stock, so use a brand you really like. Even better, if you regularly make your own chicken stock, this is the time to pull it out of the freezer.
Sesame oil, garlic, ginger, carrots and scallions fortify the flavor of the broth, and a touch of brown sugar adds a hint of sweetness.
For the greens, choose any that you might have around, like spinach, sliced kale, or sliced cabbage. So far, so good, right?
While the broth simmers, cook the eggs in their shells and the noodles – use the same pot to cook both of them and save on cleanup.
Cook the eggs to your liking. Nine minutes will yield a yolk that is firm, but if you like a little more softness, take the eggs out after seven or eight minutes. Once the eggs are done, add the noodles to the simmering water and cook briefly.
All that’s left is to divide everything into bowls. Cilantro, limes and spicy Sriracha add some bright flavors to finish. That was easy!
This recipe calls for cooked chicken breast. If you don’t have any on hand, poach two chicken breasts in the chicken broth before beginning the recipe.
For the broth:
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, including some of the green part
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 ounces button, cremini, or shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups thinly shredded Napa cabbage, spinach, kale, or other greens
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth, store-bought or homemade
For the soup:
- 4 large eggs
- 20 ounces fresh ramen noodles, or 12 ounces dried noodles
- 2 medium cooked chicken breast halves, sliced
For the garnish:
- Soy sauce
- Sriracha or other hot sauce
- Handful fresh cilantro, leaves removed from stems
1 Make the broth: In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the scallions, garlic, carrot, mushrooms, and cabbage. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.
Stir in the ginger and brown sugar and cook for 30 seconds. Finally add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
2 Cook the eggs: While the broth is simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil. Set a bowl of cold ice water nearby.
Use a slotted spoon to gently lower the eggs, still in the shell, into the water. Simmer for 7 minutes for eggs that are soft and a little runny in the center, or 9 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.
Transfer the eggs to the bowl of cold water and set aside until ready to serve.
3 Cook the noodles: Return the pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes, or according to the package directions, until tender. Drain in a colander.
4 Assemble the soup: Divide the noodles among 4 large bowls. Ladle the broth and vegetables over the noodles.
Remove the eggs from the ice water. Tap the shells with a spoon to crack and then peel off the shells. Pat the eggs dry and cut them in half.
Top each bowl with the egg halves and the sliced chicken. Serve with soy sauce, hot sauce, cilantro leaves and lime wedges.