Written By Roshni Bose
Everyone around the world loves instant noodles. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s tasty, it’s quick and it’s the appropriate amount of unhealthy all fast foods are. But, creating something like this has been no accident. In 1958, Momofuku Ando started a billion-dollar industry by launching the first-ever packet of instant noodles in the world.
But what inspired this?
After the second world war ended, Japan faced a dire food shortage in the country worsened by the worst harvest season. It was reportedly the worst famine they had faced in decades with hundreds of people dying from malnutrition.
To fight this hunger, thousands of unlicensed open-air markets opened up catering raw vegetables to factory workers. These were called “black markets” and a lot of them also sold American surplus wheat. During this time, the Japanese government pushed the citizens to consume meals including bread and biscuits using this wheat.
However, Ando was reluctant. Upon observing a long line on a cold night, just to buy a warm bowl of ramen noodles at one such black market, Ando realized the demand for noodles. He questioned why must Japan replace its culture and not use the wheat to produce Japan’s noodles. But, he was alone in his quest and since nobody listened, he decided to find an answer himself.
Over the course of next year, Ando started researching ramen, in a shed he builds in his backyard, on a sleep schedule of four hours a night. Frustrated Ando, unable to find a way to increase the shelf life and retain the taste, one day saw his wife frying tempura, which gave him a brilliant idea.
He fried a block of noodles and noticed that the hot oil extracts the moisture from it and when dipped in warm water, it gets hydrated back. Ando discovered a technology now called, “flash frying.” On August 25, 1958, the very first packet of Chicken Ramen, the instant noodle was launched and changed the name of his company to Nissin.
Instant ramen was well, an instant hit. In its first year, it sold 13 million packages, only for the sales to hit billions in the coming decade. Soon after the success of Nissin Chicken Ramen, multiple companies across the globe started picking the product up.
Now, instant ramen is available on the shelves of every grocery store, making it the most popular instant snack int the world.
Although instant noodles initially were just a product of boiling the noodles and seasoning the soup, over decades and with multi-cultural influences, every country in the world has a unique way of preparing it. So, let us try cooking a couple of different recipes today.
Indonesia is the second-largest instant noodle consumer in the world, after China. Indomie by Indofood is the biggest producer of instant noodles in Indonesia. Having the largest market share in south-east Asia and Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, United States, Turkey, Canada and European countries.
This recipe requires Indomie Mi Goreng noodles, onion, scallion, chicken stock powder, corn beef and an egg. First, boil the instant noodles, rinse in cold water, add the seasoning packet and set it aside.
Chop up the onions, scallion and throw into a bowl with the corn beef. Add the chicken stock powder, flour and the egg, mixing it all together. Add the noodles to the bowl and mix. Take a pan and make small pancakes of the batter.
Fry them and add your cheese on the top to melt. Your dish is ready. These pancakes are salty and crispy, with a punch of flavour from the vegetables as well.
2. Trinidad and Tobago
On the rare occasion that you ordered way too much KFC and now have leftovers, you can give this recipe a shot. To start off, you need spicy instant noodles. If you don’t have it, don’t worry, just substitute it with your regular pack of noodles and some sriracha/chilli sauce.
For the next step, you’re going to want to take the skin off your chicken and fry it back to revive its crunchiness. Separate the meat from the bones and boil it in a pot of water with the seasoning. Chop off some Bok Choy and add the stems and leaves into the soup in intervals.
Finally, add the noodles. Transfer the whole thing in another bowl and garnish it with some chopped fried crispy chicken skin. It’s really hard to not get hungry writing about this so I know you’re feeling the same. It tastes, as you guess, fantastic, I mean what’s not to like.
If you’re one of those people who like everything packed in a sandwich (no judgement), this unusual style of eating instant noodles is definitely for you. For this, you’ll traditionally need instant noodles from the Pancit Canton, but it’s okay to replace it with whatever is available at home.
First, add your noodles to the water and make sure to boil off the moisture. When it’s done add the flavour packaging and mix. Set this aside. Now take some oil to a pan and fry up an egg.
A beautiful sunny side up should suffice. Toast some bread, put it on the bottom, assemble the noodles on top, add the egg on top and finish it up with the final layer of bread.
Your sandwich is ready to eat. It’s savoury with the egg adding extra flavour and you know, carbs just make everything taste ten times better.
If you’re bored of cooking your noodles in water, then this is the recipe you’re looking for (and it is superior). First, you need to boil a packet of Shin Ramyun in milk. Add the flavour packaging and some cheese. Add some spice with the chilli flakes and finally, drop an egg on top of it and let it cook. Transfer into a separate bowl and garnish with scallion. The noodles are originally spicy but the milk and cheese add the creaminess and the egg just makes us feel welcomed. It’s definitely worth multiple tries.
India loves instant noodles. Specifically Nestle’s Maggi. The way I would describe it, Maggi is more of a part of India’s culture than just being a food item and everyone has their own favourite recipe. But if you don’t know where to start, don’t worry, we got you.
First, get a packet of Maggi noodles. Boil it in water. You can keep it a little soupy if you like. Add the seasoning and mix well. Wash carrots, pepper, onions and peas. Chop your vegetables and add it to a pan. Cut out square shapes of paneer and fry with your veggies.
Add the noodles in the pan and serve hot when cooked. I mean it, serve hot, unless you like a cold blob of noodles shaped like your container. And trust me, some people have had that for school lunch. This recipe tastes like home and makes you warm from the inside.
If you’re like me and get hangry quickly, replace your vegetarian options with cheese and egg and you’re good to go.
In case, you are absolutely tired of cooking your instant noodles and want the process to be more, well, instant, Nepal is the best buddy. All you need is a packet of Wai Wai noodles, onion, tomato and ginger, green chilli and lime juice.
Rinse your vegetables and chop them into dices. Now, grab your noodles and punch the packet. Yep, crush those bad boys. When crushed, put them in a bowl and add your vegetables, grate some ginger, mix the seasoning.
Lastly, squeeze some lemon juice and you’re done. It’s spicy, tangy and got a lot of flavours to explore. You can even pair it with your favourite drink.
To prepare this German-style instant noodles, you will need a packet of Yum Yum instant noodles, preferably duck flavoured. You have to do a little bit of math on this one.
Carefully boil five out of six portions of the noodles and cook with the seasoning. Break an egg on a frying pan and make scrambled eggs. Now take the leftover instant noodles and crush them until they are tiny bites.
Mix it with your cooked product and you’ve got your dish ready. Do we know it’s delicious because of duck and eggs and noodles? It’s like every college student’s dream snack.
Instant noodles in Malaysia are rather unique. Where most of the other countries call for a number of different ingredients to enhance the taste, instant noodles in Malaysia is prepared using two different noodles itself. Mixing two of the Maggi flavours together is called “Maggi Kawen”, translating to married noodles.
The most common preparation includes Maggi Kari (curry) and Maggi Asam Laksa (tamarind) flavours. This dish is soupy, so we need to take a bowl of water, add both of our seasonings, Vietnamese coriander, bunda Kanta or ginger and boil for two minutes.
After two minutes, chop carrots and celery and mix it in the soup. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can follow-in on the steps of a few locals and add mushrooms or shrimps into the soup. Finally, boil the two blocks of noodles together for exactly two minutes to maintain the consistency.
This recipe is savory, tangy and definitely spicy if you’re used to the Asian palette.
Also Read: Top 15 Most Popular Israeli Foods You Must-Try.
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Roshni Bose is a contributor at The Strong Traveller. She is a culinary arts student who loves writing about her experiences with food. She’s keen on exploring and understanding the differences and intersection of all cultures. Introverted, yet a lover of people, Roshni loves to express her thoughts through writing.