Recipe: Coconut Curry Garbage Ramen

We went to see Into the Spider-Verse and, you already know this because you’re all very smart people, but it’s fucking amazing. It’s the best Spider-Man movie, but only gets to be the best Spider-Man movie because of all the amazing Spider-Man movies (and comics, and cartoons, and games) before it. It’s great. It’s astonishing, spectacular, sensational, amazing. And not to mention really beautiful — one of the prettiest animated films I’ve seen in a very long time, experimental in a way that Pixar movies are not (and indie films often are).

ANYWAY.

That’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is, we got out of the movie Sunday night, it was later than I wanted it to be, and it was starting to snow and ice a little bit. The original plan was to go out and grab food somewhere but the collective decision was: “We better head home and find dinner there.”

One problem, though —

It was Sunday night.

When I hadn’t gone grocery shopping.

The fridge and pantry were a fucking skeleton stripped of all its precious nutrients, dry as a mouse cough, and so I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner.

So, I went to my default:

GARBAGE RAMEN, or, TRASHCAN RAMEN.

Which is to say, I make a duly non-traditional version of ramen soup containing whatever shit I can scrounge up in my house at the time. Now! I do sometimes make a semi-proper ramen — miso, pork bones, tare, soft-boiled eggs, the whole fucking jim-jam. But garbage ramen is not this. Usually my garbage ramen is whatever broth I have conjured, plus whatever meat remnants I can find, and then at the end I add like, soy, ginger, garlic, splash of rice wine vinegar, mirin, maybe a tickle of sugar. But the recipe that proceeds is not that recipe.

I made something different.

And what I made was accidentally awesome.

I have not yet tried to replicate it, but I am going to put the recipe here, for you to have, so you can try your hand at it, see if it comes out as good as it did — more to the point, far far better than I could have possibly expected.

So, first, the broth.

This I had already made ahead, as I do often.

The broth is this:

Bunch of shiitake mushroom stems (8-10, I think — just stems!)

One carrot

One celery rib

Two hot cherry peppers

Quarter onion, chopped

Bundle of cilantro

Splurp of minced garlic

Sploop of minced ginger

2 tbsp coriander seed

2 tbsp cumin seed

1 tbsp fennel seed

1 tbsp mustard seed

dash of turmeric

a scattered smattering of black peppercorns

probably don’t need much salt, if any

3-4 cups of chicken broth

And I cooked that bubblin’ brew for *mumble mumble* a couple-few hours. Then, strained out of all the stuck it in a container, and into the fridge it went.

UNTIL THE HOUR OF TRASHCAN RAMEN WAS UPON US, as the prophecy foretold.

Soup time.

Get the broth boiling and into it ye shall placeth:

Three carrots, choppity-chopped

One celery rib, sliced into slicey bits for its crimes

Half a green pepper, carved into nifty thin strips

Quarter onion, diced

The caps from the shiitake mushrooms (above), sliced

one can of coconut milk

Three tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

pinch of sugar

juice of one lime

You don’t need long with this — five minutes starts to soften the vegetables but still lets them feel crisp and fresh, like my buttocks on a spring Sunday morning.

*checks notes*

*notes say: ‘stop mentioning your butt in recipes’*

*nods sagely*

Moving on.

Now, the ramen noodles.

I tend to use these noodles right here, and they’re pretty good — nice texture and what-not. But in this case I only had your standard $0.19 packs of ramen, and I took three of them and those were the noodles I used because they’re oddly very satisfying. The trick is, usually when I make ramen, I make the noodles separate, in their own water, and then dole them out into the bowls of soup. In this case I was lazy and just tossed the NOODLE BRICKS into the soup and —

You know, they soaked up a lot of the broth, which is not ideal, but also, made it weirdly satisfying in that it wasn’t entirely soup anymore? And then for the piece de resistance, a thing I never do, I used the fucking chicken ramen flavor packet. I just sprinkled it in there. Just one. Not all three. I never use these things so I have a small library of those packets hanging around, and…

Okay, listen, this isn’t good in the sense that it’s a refined meal. This is the furthest thing from fine dining. But it’s good in a weird, deeper, more satisfying way — deeply umami, rich and creamy, with the vibe of macaroni and cheese but… not macaroni and cheese, not at all. I need to try making it again, see if I can capture this curious meal for a second time.

Lemme know if you try it.

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