Asian American

What’s your favorite food?

What’s your favorite food?

Noodle.

By far the most common answer to the common practicing English in the classroom question. I’d say fried chicken or fried rice would be the second most common. But let’s go back to noodles. Or nooden as it is pronounced by Thais.

I really like ramen noodles. I remember telling my friend JP that I make ramen at home, quite often. You know, drop an egg in the boiling water, add some vegetables, like cabbage or kale and you’ve got yourself a nice hearty meal.

Now it should be noted that JP is a foodie and a good friend. So I took it in Bubble Yum stride when she said, β€œOh my God! Ramen is so bad for you!” Yeah, but, it tastes so good. It’s comfort food too.

Samyang+ramen
Korean ramen is good stuff!

When I was attending Fort Lewis College in the Subaru and SUV town of Durango Colorado, I received the same disgusted reaction from my college roommates. Who knew ramen had such a bad rat tat tat reputation? I mean Open Office keeps giving ramen the red underline squiggly (the middle finger of the word processing world).

But I grew up with ramen. We were friends who spent a lot of time together, ramen and I. Maybe because my brother and I were latchkey kids. I don’t know, but I could always reply upon the rice cooker ON and a variety of ramen on the shelves.

The popular MAMA glass noodles were always there, as were the classic Sapporo Ichiban, the latter being my go-to brand. There are more noodles in Ichiban (What can I say, I have porky tendencies). I even started discussing which ramen flavors I liked best with my mom when we were at the Commissary (military grocer). I had to make sure that she picked up the brand that had the dried soybean and udon noodles.

My mom taught me how to make a bowl of ramen by adding sliced pork, any vegetables you might have lurking in the recesses of your crisper (even lettuce tastes good!), an egg and using half of the seasoning packet or discarding it all together for your own broth. And after living in Thailand and seeing how vendors make a living off of doing this with MAMA noodles, I’m not surprised.

Growing up in Hawaii is like growing up in a Hot Pot of Asian countries. I was exposed to many different kinds of food, flavors, customs and cultures. The fact that McDonalds served saimin noodles and Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice didn’t phase me until I was in California and tried to order Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice for breakfast.

In grade school, it became trendy to bring your own packet of ramen. At recess, kids would break their uncooked noodles, and eat it raw, nibbling on the chunks like a cookie or Rice Krispies treat, sometimes adding the seasoning packet. This seemed like a horrible waste of good noodles that like to take a hot bath, and I wasn’t sold on the taste but I understood the importance of wanting to be cool.

What’s your favorite food? Nooden. Why? Um. Because it’s easy to eat and it’s delicious.

Couldn’t agree more.


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11 thoughts on “What’s your favorite food?

  1. I like Ramen a lot and it's never boring because I do what you do and add some vegetables like Chinese kale and cauliflower and also pork or chicken. Just the plain noodles after a while will make anyone a little crazy.I also love a good vegetable green curry.

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  2. True. I don't think I get bored from ramen. I think it would take me a long time. I actually have to force myself not to buy it and eat it all the time. . .Baaa!

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  3. Okay, here's my favorite. I haven't had this for a while because it ain't exactly loow-cal. And don't cook this up in a public place 'cuz to some people it has a very bad smell. Start with any flavor of ramen you happen to have your hands on:To your slowly simmering ramen, add the flavor packet followed by a generous forkful of kim chee, the more “fragrant” the better. Stir in about a quarter cup of diced cheese and when that's melted nicely, crack an egg into the mix. Stir until the egg is just cooked. Serve. Protein, vitamins, good flavor, a bit of fat, very filling and very cheap!

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  4. Ah, ramen…sometimes it just hits the spot, especially on a chilly and overcast day. Does your friend [JP] think ramen is unhealthy because of the spice packet? I ask because, the noodles themselves are just noodles, right?I almost never add anything to ramen [except for the spice packet]…AK Dave's version sounds very interesting [minus the kimchi; though I know a few people who really enjoy kimchi soup]. I wonder if Dave “invented” this dish himself? Bon appetit, and regards from Ken C.

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  5. @Ken C – actually it was invented by a friend of mine when he was working aboard a Korean vessel as a fisheries observer in Alaska. Koreans eat a lot of kim chee and he learned to like it during his stints at sea with them, as did I after he introduced this dish to me. Apparently it's loaded with vitamin C and I've read that raw cabbage is a good preventative for cancer. Who knows?

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  6. For AK Dave: Thanks for the additional info. The spoonful of kimchee in your recipe hinted at its exotic origin. And who knew that in addition to staving off “The Big C,” kimchee also prevents scurvy in Korean pirates? [well, okay, Korean commercial fishermen]. But “pirates” sounds much more adventuresome, and Lani is noted for her sense of adventure, culinary and otherwise.Clear sailing, and regards from Ken C.

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  7. I'm not a noodle connoisseur, but I do like soba noodles. Your post about instant noodles brought back memories of our girl's high school days. Back then it was all the craze to eat instant noodles dry, as a snack. Yuk! I guess they swell up in one's stomach?

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  8. I saw several younger Thai people eat dry noodles too. Perhaps you can enquire in your class whether this is cool in Thailand too.By the way, as far as I know ramen is a collective noun for instant noodles mainly in the US. In lots of countries ramen will refer to the original Japanese stuff instead of cup noodles in general.I love the original ramen from Japan, Hokkaido ramen is my favourite. When I lived there I learned fully against my nature to slurp it in. This process will cool it down a bit.In that way you can start eating it straight away, full of flavour, without the noodles becoming too soft. I think my father would have slapped me if I did that as a kid at the dinner table πŸ™‚

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