Friday, May 6, 2011

A Little Unusual: Ramen with Tuna

Sometimes, a recipe looks so unique, I feel absolutely compelled to try it. An unexpected combination of ingredients just has a way of drawing me in. I love it when this happens, when I am surprised by an idea I never would have thought of before. This was the case with a dish described in this May’s Bon Appétit. The recipe was not so much a recipe as a few lines describing how to throw together this quick meal in a brief feature on different uses for canned tuna. This one was tuna with ramen.
So here’s the general idea: store-bought kimchi-flavoured ramen is combined with tuna, vegetables, herbs, and egg to make a more complete meal. I have a soft-spot for instant ramen, but I don’t allow myself to have it often because of the multitude of sins it commits against a healthy, natural diet of whole foods. One glance at the ingredients list will tell you how heavily processed this stuff is, and skimming the nutritional facts will quickly indicate that having this every day would not be wise. Still, a bowl of those salty, slurpy, scrumptious noodles every once in a while is fine by me, and the idea in Bon Appétit seemed like an improvement on having the soup as-is.
This is not the first time I’ve heard of adding other ingredients to store-bought ramen , but it was certainly the first time I had heard of adding tuna. I started by warming sesame oil in a pot with a dash of red pepper flakes.

Next, BA suggests adding some diced vegetables: carrot, pepper, onion, broccoli, and garlic would all be good. I was feeling lazy, though, and decided to omit the extra veggies. Instead, I added the tuna. I used half of a five-ounce can for my one bowl of ramen. Then, I stirred in the flavour packet from the ramen. Actually, I stirred in about three-quarters of the flavour packet—I never find it necessary to use the whole thing.
When the tuna had warmed up, I added vegetable stock and the ramen noodles, and brought it to a boil. Then, I threw in some herbs (basil and cilantro, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand), and cracked an egg into the hot liquid. My thought here was that I would poach the egg, as the BA recipe suggests, but I’m not sure if this is the best method. It takes a while for the egg to cook through this way, and by the time it’s done, the noodles start getting mushy and over-cooked. I would suggest beating the egg a bit first, then adding it in so that you get more of an egg ribbon effect.
So the final results? It was good, but way too salty. I really have to talk about the salt here, because it was a major issue for me. These instant ramen soups are always high-sodium (this one boasts 1021 mg of sodium for HALF the bowl!!!), but I found that this one tasted even saltier than usual, and I didn’t even use the entire flavour packet. I used tuna with no salt added and a low-sodium store-bought stock. My suggestion to reduce the sodium even more: use only half the flavour packet, and use either salt-free homemade stock or just plain water.
What I loved about trying this recipe out, was that it made me want to try out other combinations with ramen. What about a broccoli stir-fry with shrimp ramen? Or chicken ramen with vegetables and bacon added? I figure, if instant ramen is something I’ll only allow myself every once in a while, I might as well make the most of it.


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