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Three speedy, satisfying suppers that start with a packet of instant noodles

Here's how to turn this budget-friendly store cupboard staple into a pair of spicy Asian dishes as well as an unusual umami-rich pasta

17 May 2020 - 00:02 By and hilary biller
Spicy ramen.
Spicy ramen.
Image: Dutoit Agri

Just when your enthusiasm for home cooking may be losing steam,there’s always a packet of instant noodles to liven it all up again. Easy on the pocket, simple to use and so versatile, this store cupboard staple, with a helping of creative ideas, can be turned into a marvellous meal.


We know ramen as 2-minute noodles, blocks of dried noodles that look like a sponge and come in a packet with a sachet of flavouring. Yet their origins are Asian and the name ramen is actually the name of a Japanese noodle soup or broth.

Serves: 3


1 shallot ( or use a small onion), finely chopped

15ml (1 tbsp) oil

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 knob of ginger, grated

5ml (1 tsp) cumin powder

2 sprigs of thyme

250g button mushrooms

7.5ml (11/2 tsp) Tom Yum paste (or use equivalent of red curry paste or 15ml (1 tbsp) miso paste )

1 litre (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 blocks of dried noodles

3 eggs, boiled, fried or poached

2 spring onions, slice the green part finely on the diagonal


  1. In a large pot fry the shallot in the preheated oil till soft then add the garlic, ginger, cumin and thyme and stir fry till fragrant.
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry till just softening and stir in the Tom Yum paste and fry for a minute or two.
  3. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Take three large soup-style bowls and place a block of dried noodles in the bottom of each. Divide the flavoured stock between the three bowls, top with an egg and sprinkle with chopped spring onion.


Using vegetable stock makes this a vegan dish. For a protein-rich dish add two sliced chicken breast fillets to the pan with the ginger and garlic.

Serves: 4


4 blocks of dried noodles

2 litres boiling water

15ml (1 tbsp) vegetable or chicken stock powder

30ml (2 tbsp) sesame oil plus extra (or use sunflower oil)

15ml (1 tbsp) grated ginger

10ml (2 tsp) chilli/garlic paste or more to taste

375ml (1 ½ cups) baby spinach

45ml (3 tbsp) soy sauce

30ml (2 tbsp) rice vinegar

45ml (3 tbsp) peanut butter

To garnish:

Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 5cm thin sticks

A handful chopped roasted peanuts

Chilli flakes


  1. Add the noodles to the boiling water with the stock and bring to the boil and cook till just tender no more than 3-5 minutes. Drain the noodles well, reserving some of the stock, then rinse in cold water, toss in a tablespoon of oil and set aside.
  2.  In a large pan preheat the remaining oil and fry the ginger and chilli/garlic paste till fragrant, then add the spinach and fry till just soft.
  3. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar and peanut butter.
  4. Add the noodles, heating through quickly and adding a little of the reserved stock.
  5. Serve divided between four warmed bowls. Garnish with cucumber sticks, roasted peanuts and a light sprinkling of chilli flakes.


Whipped up in minutes, this umami-rich easy dish will satisfy a hungry person, big or small.

Serves: 4


4 blocks of dried noodles

15ml (1 tbsp) vegetable or chicken stock powder (or use the sachets in the 2-minute noodle pack)

2 litres boiling water

60ml (4 tbsp) butter

10ml (2 tsp) Marmite or Bovril — you could use half a crumbled beef stock cube

Parmesan cheese

Chopped parsley, optional


  1. Add the noodles and stock to the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes till just cooked. Drain well, retaining a couple of tablespoons of stock and return noodles to the pot.
  2. In a small pan melt the butter and Marmite together, adding a couple of tablespoons of noodle water to give you a paste.
  3. Pour over the noodles and toss to mix through.
  4. Sprinkle over a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese and parsley, if using, and serve with extra cheese.