Created By: ZombieAladdin on November 26, 2010 Last Edited By: ZombieAladdin on December 8, 2010
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Useful Notes: Dehydrated Noodles and Ramen

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NOTE: This article is in desperate need of help from an expert in dried/dehydrated noodles and/or ramen. What I have typed is a bar, of sorts, to start from. If you are knowledgeable in these foods, please feel free to edit this as you wish, or even remove some sections and rebuild this from the ground up. If you are not knowledgeable, feel free to edit this anyway.

When you hear the word "ramen," what do you think of? If you are American, chances are you think of dried noodles with some strange powder, servedin a styrofoam cup. You pour boiling water into the cup, wait for three minutes, and serve. Which companies and brands you see most often will depend on the country you're from:

However, these two types make up only a tiny fraction of a whole variety of foods.

We shall begin with dehydrated noodles, as this is more familiar to a westerner than fresh ramen. While "ramen" refers strictly to a specific type of Japanese noodle soup, the term is also used by supermarkets, both Asian and non-Asian, to refer to any package of dehydrated noodles with seasonings for a single serving.

The concept of dehydrating noodles is pretty recent; it was developed to create efficient meals for potential space travelers. You may have seen astronaut ice cream, peaches, and the like; the concept is the same here. The noodles have been freeze-dried to remove the moisture out of them with minimal harm to their texture, flavor, and nutritional content (yes, it exists). Space programs in Asia never really took off (pardon the pun), but the manufacturers realized that what they had just created was easy and convenient to transport, was dirt-cheap to produce, and could be turned into a meal by even those with no kitchen talent whatsoever.

Maruchan and Nissin were the only two companies to have since broken into foreign markets (Nong Shim is arguably doing so right now, having gained a foothold in southern California), though they are far from the only companies to make dehydrated noodles. There are in fact dozens of companies creating literally hundreds of different sorts, with at least one representative from every Oriental country. Step into an Asian supermarket, and you will see an entire aisle devoted to these noodles, usually spanning both sides. Dehydrated noodles exists for Indonesian mi goreng, Vietnamese pho, Japanese udon and yakisoba, Thai tom yum and pad Thai, Korean jjajang, Chinese wor wonton, and so forth. Udon is an odd case in that the noodles do not dehydrate properly, so they are normally shipped undehydrated and stored refrigerated, separate from the other types of ramen. Nevertheless, preparation techniques are the same as their dehydrated kin.

What you will not see, however, are styrofoam cups, which are a specific only to American varieties. The "ramen" in these aisles will most commonly come in bags, which are meant to be prepared at home; but some will come in plastic bowls or buckets, which are meant to be prepared at school or at work. Most will cook in the same way as the familiar cup noodles (immerse the noodles in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, then uncover), though you should expect to see separate packets for the soup powder, as well as the occasional packets for chili powder, hot sauce, oil, soy sauce, fried garlic, vegetables, and/or vinegar, in addition to the brick of noodles. Some require you remove the brick and place it directly in a pot of boiling water, then drained. One brand requires no preparation at all--you'd eat the dehydrated noodles as they are. The approach depends largely on the manufacturer, rather than the type of dish.

What all dehydrated noodles have in common, however, no matter what country they're from, is that they're symbolic of poverty. Whether it's the starving university student, people living alone flooded in debt, or folks who have fallen on hard times, whenever you see someone in fiction pouring boiling water into a brick of rock-hard noodles, you can tell they're hungry for money as well as food.

Dehydrated noodles as seen in media

Anime and Manga
  • The heroes in Cowboy Bebop always find themselves eating dried noodles of various types due to their constant lack of money. It becomes a Running Gag.
Literature
  • In The Tomorrow Series, city girl Fi is entirely unfamiliar with Two-Minute Noodles. Jack tells her about him subsisting on Two-Minute Noodles for a whole week when living with his father before the war.
Live-Action TV
  • In Red Dwarf, Lister refers to "Pot Noodles" as a meal of last resort.
VideoGames
  • In Ace Attorney, Dick Gumshoe frequently finds himself eating ramen.
Web Comics
  • The students in PHD feed off of dried ramen and free food.

(The section for fresh ramen will go here--Can someone please help me on this?)

Fresh ramen as seen in media

Anime and Manga
  • The titular character in Naruto is a fan of ramen, referring specifically to the fresh kind. The series has a ramen bar, Ichiraku Ramen, that's internationally famous.
  • Ramen Fighter Miki focuses on competing ramen delivery services.
  • In One Piece, Wanze fights using ramen noodles as armor and as grappling.
Video Games
  • In The World Ends with You, there's a ramen restaurant (Ramen Don)whose food affects the player characters' stats. In Week 2, Day 3, a mission revolves around Ramen Don and a rival ramen shop which opens a few doors down.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • November 27, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    So is there anything I should change about this? Is it worth including in Useful Notes?
  • November 29, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    All right, if there's nothing that needs to be changed, I'll put it up there. Should there be a new category for food, since, to my surprise, there hasn't been one yet?
  • November 29, 2010
    bluepenguin
    Udon and soba aren't ramen (they're native to Japan, unlike the Chinese-influenced ramen, and are prepared differently). Pad Thai isn't ramen (different country, different kind of noodles, no broth). Shark fin soup is more Chinese than Japanese and also isn't ramen (does it even have noodles in it at all?). At least, none of these things are commonly sold at ramen restaurants in my experience, and The Other Wiki backs me up on this. Ramen is a particular kind of noodle dish, not "anything with noodles and/or broth that comes from East or Southeast Asia". Also, in Japan at least, there are other dishes (like oden and nabe) that are much closer to stew than ramen is.

    If you're going to make an article talking about how badly Westerners misunderstand what ramen is, please make sure you understand what ramen is.
  • November 29, 2010
    JoveHack
    Is this what Lister on Red Dwarf refers to as a Pot Noodle? If so, a quick search gives a number of hits on TV Tropes.
  • November 29, 2010
    Bisected8
    Pot Noodle is a British (well Japanese developed for a British company) brand of instant noodles. Lister's feelings are pretty much the entire UK's; it's a meal of last resort. Although their campaigns have recently capitalised on this and branded it as the culinary equivalent of dirty sex (It worked somehow).
  • November 30, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    Thank you--I needed to have some people verify if I'm doing it right or not, which is why I put it here rather than launching it myself. I'm no chef, so I'm not entirely sure what constitutes "ramen" and what does not. I have done no research myself, and I was counting on feedback and corrections until it reaches a satisfactory state.

    By the way, dried noodle packages exist for Pad Thai that are prepared in very much the same way as the styrofoam cup stuff, and I've seen it labeled as such. (The brand is called MAMA and specializes in tom yum dried noodles.) The Asian supermarkets I've visited label the entire aisle as "ramen," so I figured the dried noodles that make them up would count as them.
  • December 1, 2010
    johnnye
    "This article is in desperate need of help from an expert in dried/dehydrated noodles and/or ramen. "

    I'd say that's the last thing it needs. You've got a huge amount of detail on what instant noodles are, and by my count a single line on what relevance they have in fiction.

    For what it's worth, I seem to remember Cowboy Bebop had a Running Gag about the characters only ever having noodles to eat.
  • December 1, 2010
    Duckay
    In Australia, the most common/well-known brand is Maggi "Two Minute Noodles". Referenced at least twice in The Tomorrow Series - once in the first book (and in The Movie), where the "posh" city girl Fi reveals that not only has she never eaten two minute noodles before, she has no idea what they are. Later, ten year old Jack shows some insight into his background when he reveals over dinner that once he ate nothing but two minute noodles for a whole week, when he was living with his dad before the war started.
  • December 1, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    Oh yes, I've heard of Maggi, and I've seen them too. They make sauces as well, and they have a unique taste.

    What I really need help on is information about fresh ramen, from people who are familiar with it, can cook it, have grown up seeing it, or have eaten a lot of it. Unfortunately, through BluePenguin's description and the Wikipedia article, it seems I don't understand fresh ramen too well, and without firsthand experience with the stuff (as I have neither cooked it nor eaten it), I can't make a good description without plagiarization.

    But all right--I'll add these examples in.
  • December 1, 2010
    Amaryllis
    As another example in fiction, the starving university students live off ramen and free food in PHD Comics.
  • December 1, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    Heh, free food? I don't see that very often. I'll go add them in.

    Turns out Maggi's Two-Minute Noodles are quite popular in South Africa as well, so I've added them in.

    Anyone know of any examples of fresh ramen? I'm sure the list for dehydrated noodles will wind up much longer, but then again, I'd expect it to happen.
  • December 4, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    Well, it looks like I found some ramen restaurants. Tell you what? I think I will leave this as Useful Notes: Dehydrated Noodles for now and will launch it as it is shortly. Then, I'll do my own research on ramen, try some, and see how to make it, then add it in while expanding it to Useful Notes: Dehydrated Noodles and Ramen.
  • December 4, 2010
    KatyaStevens
    Fresh ramen example: The World Ends With You. There's a ramen restaurant (Ramen Don) where you can buy food for the characters to eat (affecting certain stats) and in week 2, day 3 a mission revolves around Ramen Don and a rival ramen shop which opens a few doors down.
  • December 4, 2010
    IsaacSapphire
    I'm an American and while I'm familiar with the Styrofoam cup ramen, I'm more used to the dried block with a flavor packet kind that is boiled for a few minutes. My mom used to use it as a base in a sort of chicken noodle soup, creating a bastardized dish.
  • December 6, 2010
    DAN004
    In One Piece, there's Wanze, an agent of CP 7 with his Ramen Kempo, which basically a fighting style using ramen. He also can make ramen instantly by eating the flour and then blowing the ramen out of his nose. And behold: the ramen battlesuit.
  • December 6, 2010
    henke37
    • Due to his poor financial standing Gumshoe tends to eat these exclusively.
  • December 8, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    Thanks for the replies.

    It seems that the whole notion of styrofoam cups must be a local thing if some of you guys are more used to the brick in a bag with a flavor packet. I've had many incidents where people think ramen = styrofoam cup noodles, the epitome being this guy at my college who told me, "Hey you want some ramen?"

    I asked, "What kind?"

    He said, "Every kind."

    I said, "You mean even MAMA and Shin Ramyun and all that?"

    He said, "Yeah, every kind."

    He wound up giving me a cardboard box full of Maruchan Instant Lunch and Nissin Cup Noodles in the chicken, beef, and shrimp flavors.
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