Korea's Spicy, Cheesy Spin On Instant Ramen

Beloved by those living on a budget and college students alike, instant ramen noodles are an easy, inexpensive meal to keep on hand. 

Instant ramen spiked in popularity in the United States during the early '70s, when Nissin introduced its Cup Noodle to stores, reports Myojo. Though the noodle dish had been served in Japanese restaurants long before the arrival of the Cup Noodle market, the inexpensive packaged products, along with a heightened interest in Japanese culture, contributed to an increase in ramen consumption.

Back in 2018, the New York Times published a recipe for "Perfect Instant Ramen," which suggested adding slices of American cheese on top of the noodles. Insider reported that the internet reacted immediately, horrified at the suggestion. However, the site explained that Korean-American chef Roy Choi created the recipe, and adding cheese to ramen is pretty commonplace in Korea when making noodles for a snack.

Ramen with cheese?

American cheese was introduced to the country during the Korean war, when American soldiers would receive slices in their rations, according to Insider. Koreans began experimenting with the food and adding it to dishes, like ramen. The New York Times even released another ramen recipe, which uses kimchi, a spicy, fermented Korean cabbage mix, alongside the cheese — though it uses grated cheddar instead of American cheese.

Casein, which is often found in dairy, can help relieve some of the burning sensation caused by spicy foods, according to Dairy Discovery Zone. This makes it a perfect companion to the kimchi, allowing both flavors to balance the other out. Christie at Home even suggests using instant ramen noodles, kimchi, and cheese to make a stir-fry dish. 

If you're ready to make your own spicy, cheesy ramen at home, try making some homemade kimchi, and check out chef Roy Choi's recipe for perfect ramen, complete with a few slices of American cheese.