Now any single claim of X being the best meal ever is going to be rooted a great deal in subjectivity and personal opinion. Yes, yes, different strokes for different boats and all. However that doesn’t mean there is no room for people to enthuse about particular meals, no less myself, so even while knowing that tastes differ I’d like to take the time to put a case forward for the humble dish of ramen being the best meal ever devised in the kitchen of humanity.
Wait, ramen? I hear you cry incredulously. Isn’t that what poor students buy and eat when they’re feeling the pinch of their tuition fees? How on Earth could that be a contender for the best meal on the planet?
Joy in the Simple Things
While it’s true that ramen tends to be the stereotypical fare of students who are so poor they consider a bottle of ketchup to be the height of luxury, this is actually not true ramen. Since its importation to the USA in the 1970’s, ramen has become a catch-all term for any type of instant noodle. Genuine ramen is a little different. However, the stereotype is useful in that it pretty much underlines the dishes’ main strength: it’s extremely simple to make and very cheap to buy. As long as you have some suitable noodles (not udon or soba) and some broth, you have some ramen. For those with gluten intolerance, egg-based noodles are a suitable alternative. This means it can quickly make a meal even if the household is really struggling for funds. Even on its own, noodles in a meat broth with some soy for flavour can make a very tasty and hearty meal.
However, the sheer simplicity of ramen also means that it’s a perfect foundation for variation and experimentation. There’s really nothing to stop you from adding various other ingredients to the initial broth, and it’s precisely this ease of adaption that results in so many regional variations of the ramen dish.
Variation is the Spice of Life
There are many ways you can enhance or change a simple bowl of ramen. If you’d rather have fish than beef or pork, use a fish broth and add some prawns, squid and shrimp. If you’re vegetarian, substitute for vegetable broth and add mushrooms, tofu, spring onions and dried seaweed. Through the sheer range of things you can do with the dish, ramen presents itself as the ultimate all-purpose meal. Noodles are a fairly neutral base for a dish, however, so as long as you keep varying the ingredients it’s nearly impossible to get tired of ramen.
In that, there is another reason why ramen is the best dish on the planet. You can pretty much make it whatever you want it to be. It can either be a main meal in itself, laden with all kinds of goodies and ingredients, or it can be a small starter or accompaniment to a much larger dish. Place it into a sealable Tupperware container, and you have something you can eat cold as a packed lunch or as a snack on a long road trip. It’d be difficult to make ramen a dessert item, admittedly, but you’re more than welcome to try to if you’re adventurous enough.
The variation you can bring in with ramen also makes it exceptionally healthy – through the careful addition of ingredients, you can easily make a dish that covers most if not all of the basic food groups. This makes ramen a very tasty and efficient way of getting your five a day, and all the nutrients you need to keep in good shape.
Try It Yourself
But don’t take my word for it. Ramen is, as I said, exceptionally easy to make. So long as you can boil noodles and cook soup, you’re good to go. So why not make up some ramen now and see for yourself why I consider it to be one of, if not the, best dishes on the planet. Or if you’re looking for a new cuisine for the weekend get together with friends try checking out your local Asian Bistro to see if they’re offering a dish of ramen, such as Bento in Downtown Orlando.
About the Author
Christian Mills is a freelance writer and foodie who enjoys sharing his own recipes, knowledge and food experiences with his readers. If you wish to learn more about Christian, feel free to check out his Google+ profile.