Monday, September 30, 2013

The Ramen Burger: The Closest You'll Get to Feeling like Jabba the Hutt

Whoa oh oh oh. Ahahahaha. Yes, that was the Jabba-esque chuckle I made when I sat down at the counter in front of a homemade ramen burger. It's the fad food monstrosity that's come into being in the wake of the cronut and other strange food mashups, birthed in none other than Brooklyn. Unlike the cronut, it's easy (albeit time-consuming) to make in your own kitchen and I just had to have one.

I was lazy. I didn't get out of my yoga pants all day long - a day which was devoted to watching Breaking Bad, some reruns of Top Chef and the Huskies beat down Arizona while a monsoon raged on outside. It was a perfect day to be gluttonous when all I needed to do was walk to the corner market for a few packets of Top Ramen and some burgers. I used Mashable's recipe as a guide and here's how I made this delicious gut bomb:

Ingredients (serves one)
  • One packet of top ramen 
  • A hamburger patty of your choice - painted hills beef for Nick and a veggie quinoa patty for me
  • 1 egg
  • Cooking oil
  • Toppings of your choice. Here is what I used:
    • Greens - Mashable used arugula but I used a baby swiss chard, spinach and baby kale mix
    • Sliced green onions
    • Shallots
    • Ketchup
    • Wasabi Mayo
    • Sriracha
    • Tomato
    • Avocado
    • Soy sauce
1. Cook the Top Ramen according to directions and drain the noodles. Rinse noodles in cool water and let it cool. I did NOT use the seasoning packet but in hindsight, I recommend either using the seasoning packet or seasoning the ramen with some salt and pepper when you form the buns. Otherwise, the ramen is slightly bland.

Don't overcook it. It's nice when it's al dente.
2. Beat the egg and mix throughly into the ramen. If you didn't season the noodles yet, now would be the time to do it.

I beat two eggs for two servings here.
The egg is a binder so the bun stays together.
3. Make the ramen buns. Find bowls with flat bottoms that are bun-sized. Oil the bottom of the bowls and add half of the noodle mixture to each of the bowls. Press the mixture gently into the bottoms of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

You can spray the bottom half of a bowl with cooking spray.
4. Ensure the noodles are pressed evenly and add a weight to the top of ramen like a heavy mug, ramekin or can. Refrigerate for half an hour. 
Don't let the noodles spill up from the weight too much - even it out.
5. After half an hour, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Remove the weight and plastic wrap and invert the bowl over the skillet to remove the ramen. Using a spatula, move any stray noodles back into place so it retains its circular shape.

The noodles don't absorb much oil - it's not too greasy.
6. Pan fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown on one side. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes longer until seared on the other side. Remove and place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. If you're making a lot of buns, you can keep them warm in an oven at a low temperature while you finish cooking the rest.
Watch the temperature and turn it down if the noodles have burnt spots.
7. As a ramen bun is cooking, heat oil in another pan. Cook the shallots until translucent and add in the green onion. Saute until onions are softened and shallots are slightly browned. Set aside. 

8. Cook the hamburger patty. I added some soy sauce to season ours but season to your liking.

9. Assemble the burger. I put sriracha and ketchup to one of the buns and wasabi mayo to the other. I topped my burger with the green onion and shallots along with some sliced avocado, tomato and greens. However, the veggie burger has a thinner patty so you can add more toppings whereas Nick had to remove the tomato from his in order to bite in. The ramen bun is a bit dry so I do recommend condiments and textural contrast like avocado or sauteed mushrooms. I think a fried egg would have been awesome.
My veggie burger & toppings
10. Enjoy! Have some Tums or Pepcid handy.

The ramen burger is a crunchy, gluttonous and savory not-meant-in-nature combination that makes you a little ashamed to enjoy in public. Something about it feels slightly wrong and deliciously right. However, it was a complete gut bomb. I've been known to down an entire plate of Matador nachos by myself and I've indulged in Red Mill onion rings, double-fried kennebec frites and tatchos. However, the last few bites of burger were a bit difficult and I pretty much passed out a couple of hours later on the couch while trying to watch some more college football. I woke up with a food hangover the next day. I haven't eaten ramen or that much processed modified starch in years and it hit me like a crunchy truck. 

Beware the ramen burger. Eat with caution. Rub your belly and chuckle like Jabba.


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