ramen: the staple of the grad-student, hailed by many of us with a respect and wonder worthy of a deity.
of course, there are many kinds of ramen, including: your garden variety ten-for-a-buck el cheapo brand, the good stuff you can only buy in asia, and for the adventurous or procrastinating person - "real" ramen. by 'real' in this case, i mean homemade. no, i'm not including the noodles in the list of homemade items, but here's a break-down of what i'm eating at the moment... it's fast, cheap (tho' not ten-cents-cheap), and kicks the pants off any of the normal store-bought crap out there.
take one package of 'good' ramen (the kind that's large and circular and comes in the mylar wrapping with little or no english writing on it, about a buck-fifty a pop), open, take out the noodles and toss whatever m.s.g. laden flavoring packets are inside in the trash; that's right virginia, we're starting from scratch. put the noodles in a big bowl, one that holds about a liter and a half of liquid. if you've ever eaten at a real asian noodle joint (thai noodles come to mind) you know that the bowl you get is freakin' huge... and yes, you slurp down the whole thing. now, add to the dry noodles: a few tablespoons of tamari sauce, about a tablespoon (or two) of rice vinegar, a solid one-second-count pour of extra-virgin olive oil, a dash of sesame oil, and a few squirts (about one teaspoon, or more if you're really macho) of crushed chili or garlic/chili sauce (I like the vietnamese stuff in the clear bottles with green tops). chop a couple green onions and throw them in. add some greens; spinach is ok, but something like bok-choy or even some good romaine lettuce work best. meat. meat is key. go nuts, use shrimp, pork, beef, whatever. i like pork, and this is how i prepare it: take a frozen porkchop and shave off (use an extremely sharp and sturdy knife - i have a knife i bought in taiwan that is specifically for pork and chicken, but any heavy cleaver-type blade will work) about 4 ounces into 2-3 milimeter thick slices. note that if the pork isn't frozen you will never be able to slice it thin enough to cook properly. throw it into a smoking hot wok with some peanut oil and a squeeze of lime juice. brown it just barely (less than 30 seconds if the wok is hot enough) and throw that on top of the still dry ramen. you can boil water (about a liter) in the same wok and then add it to the bowl of noodles and other good stuff. cover. wait. eat with gusto and loud slurping noises. i guarantee that it will be soooo much better than any normal ramen you've had before.