Instant Noodles Are Yummy!
Instant noodles used to be a regular late night snack in our household before our kids came along. Meat and I would create a delicious quick “meal” by boiling up those small blocks of dehydrated noodles, mixing in the accompanying MSG powder and topping it with a poached egg and red chili flakes. These were delicious! And, when I was a teen, I create my own variation by removing the water after boiling, and eating the noodles “dry” with the MSG mixture. I guess I just couldn’t get enough of that salty taste!
It turns out that instant noodles, invented in Japan in the 1950s, are hugely popular across the globe, with an estimated 100 billion servings consumed in 2015 (Source: Wikipedia). The largest consumers are China and Indonesia. Even the tiny island of Mauritius (nowhere near Japan) has its own brand called Apollo, which is also sold in French grocery stores.
Unfortunately, instant noodles are pretty poor in terms of nutritional value. They are:
- high in fat (since they’re dehydrated by deep frying in palm oil)
- high in salt (almost half of daily intake)
- high in preservatives
Here’s a typical nutrition label.
A Healthier Option
I’ve become more health-conscious over the past few years, so we rarely purchase instant noodles anymore. However, Meat and the kids actually really love eating them. You also can’t really make a hot snack much quicker – which is a big deal when you’re hangry. 🙂
So I’ve made it my mission to create a homemade version of instant noodles that is much healthier than the packaged version. Here’s how I made it.
- Chicken bones (for making stock)
- 1 package Asian wheat or egg noodles (cooked)
- Dried Chinese mushrooms, sliced (first soaked for 30 min in hot water, stems removed)
- Green onions, sliced
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Optional: meat, sliced
- Boil the bones in water for several hours to make stock. (I usually freeze bones from roast chickens or turkey and then make a giant batch of stock.)
2. In the mean time, prepare the other ingredients (mushrooms, noodles, green onions and sliced meat). Some tips:
- Chinese mushrooms are available in most grocery stores, but you will get more varieties in Asian stores. I am not too picky about the type, but recommend you buy one that is average priced (rather than the cheapest).
- Use whichever type of noodles you fancy. I used dried chow mein noodles, but there’s a million varieties including the pre-cooked refrigerated type which might be healthier.
3. Once the stock is ready, assemble portions into small Ziploc freezer bags as follows, and then freeze.
For each portion, use:
- 1 1/2 cups of noodles
- 1 cup of stock
- 1 tablespoon of green onions
- a few slices of mushrooms
- a few slices of meat
- soy sauce and sesame oil (to taste)
4. When ready to eat, empty package contents into a pot and warm for 5 minutes on stovetop (or microwave for 3 minutes).
According to Meat, this healthier take on instant noodles was “good” but more like chicken noodle soup than instant noodles. To better mimic the flavour of instant noodles, I’m going to make some adjustments next time, including:
- adding onion and garlic powder
- using a more “springy” noodle variety
- replacing chicken with pork
Overall, I’m pleased with this first experiment, and looking forward to making some more healthy instant noodles!