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Unsplash/Dan DeAlmeida
Photograph: Unsplash/Dan DeAlmeida

9 cheap and easy ways to upgrade your instant noodles

Because there's more to instant ramen than just ham and eggs

Jenny Leung
Written by
Jenny Leung

Instant noodles may not be the healthiest carbs to ingest, but there's no denying that they're an easy go-to when your stomach starts rumbling. Plus, when done right, they don't always have to be so unhealthy and can taste amazing too! So, to help you up the noodle game, we've put together some tasty ideas on how you can instantly upgrade your noodles without breaking the bank. And no, it's not just eggs and ham.

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Peanut butter
Photograph: Unsplash/Corleto

1. Peanut butter

Trust us, this works. But it definitely tastes better on spicy noodles. Add a generous dollop of peanut butter into your noodles for a cheap and effective dan dan noodle experience. Don't forget to sprinkle in some sesame seeds too.

Go soupless
Photograph: Unsplash/Jie Wang

2. Go soupless

It's simple. Drain your noodles, add in the flavour packet, and stir. To finish off, drizzle in some soy sauce and sesame oil, chop up some garlic and scallions (or chilli if you want that kick) to sprinkle on top, and voila! Your very own Hong Kong-style lo ding (stirred) noodles. 

Cheese and kimchi
Photograph: Unsplash/Markus Winkler

3. Cheese and kimchi

This works best with Korean instant noodles, but if you don't have any, don't fret, it will still taste amazing. When your noodles are almost done, chuck in some kimchi and give it a stir. Add some cheese on top (but don't stir!), put the lid back on, and turn off the heat. Give the cheese around 30 seconds or so to melt before enjoying your noodles.

Shrimps and coconut milk
Photograph: Unsplash/Mika Baumeister

4. Shrimps and coconut milk

Okay, it takes a few more ingredients to give your bowl of instant noodles a Thai flavour – but it’s worth it. Prepare your noodles, then add some coconut milk, shrimps, and butter. To elevate the whole dish, add a touch of fish sauce, a small spoonful of sugar, Sriracha, and squeeze in some limes. 

Photograph: Unsplash/Andrew Haimerl

5. Curry

Try this instant hack for those days when you're craving for curry. Pour out two-thirds of the water when your noodles are almost done, then add in a pack of ready-to-eat Japanese curry or curry cubes. Then just chuck in whatever ingredients you desire and slurp away. The curry sauce coating the noodles is rich and packs a flavourful punch.

Canned soup and bacon
Photograph: Unsplash/Calle Macarone

6. Canned soup and bacon

For a western-style dish, add creamy canned soup to your noodles. You can use cream of mushroom, chicken, corn, or clam chowder for flavour options. When your noodles are cooked, drain out most of the water before adding the canned soup. Fry up some bacon for garnish.

Miso paste
Photograph: Unsplash/Max Oh

7. Miso paste

Instead of flavour packets for broth, use miso paste. It'll give your bowl of noodles an instant upgrade, and you won't have to feel as bad about wanting to drink up all the broth. Add in some seaweed and a soft boiled egg for the full Japanese experience.

Photograph: Unsplash/Erol Ahmed

8. Eggs

If all else fails, crack an egg. It's best to add one right before your noodles are done, then stir and break the yolk. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. The flavour of the yolk will add a rich layer to the noodles.

Photograph: Unsplash/Sharon Chen

9. Veggies

Of course, we don't have to tell you about this one. Any sort of veggies you have in the fridge – fresh, frozen, leftover from last night – mix it into the bowl to give your noodles some extra flavour and texture. Adding in some vegetables will make you feel a lot less guilty about slurping up a bowl of instant noodles.

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