Imitation Crab Is The Convenient Way To Bulk Up Instant Ramen

Instant ramen is a quickie "just add water" meal when you're feeling broke or lazy – but it doesn't have to be quite so blasé. There are dozens of fresh ramen types and countless instant ramen flavors inhabiting packets, cups, and to-go bowls available. Seasonings for instant ramen include creamy chicken, lime-shrimp flavoring, soy sauce, chili, hot and spicy, and even black bean paste or dried scallions. The point is that "bland" isn't necessarily the issue, here. 

What you're actually missing in a bowl or cup of instant ramen may come down to texture, heartiness, and mouthfeel. In other words, you want to eat an actual meal rather than a starter or cheap filler. That's when it's time to take things into your own hands. When adding an ingredient to liven up your instant ramen, you want something substantial, not just another slippery, slurpy mouth glider. Imitation crab could be just the add-in you need, while still remaining in the quick and affordable range. 

The beauty of instant ramen is that it takes just minutes to prepare and requires very little expertise. The same goes for imitation crab. It's a premade, precooked food that simply needs to be chopped and stirred into the ramen, along with any other compatible veggies, to bulk up your meal. It costs a fraction of the price of real crab meat, but that doesn't mean it's a completely artificial food product. In fact, it's made from real fish. 

What is imitation crab and how do you use it?

To make a meal of your instant ramen and imitation crab, it helps to know how imitation crab is actually made. It consists of real fish, but it doesn't need cooking because it's already highly processed for safety and instant use. Imitation crab is produced using what's called surimi, which is essentially a paste made from the de-boned, minced flesh of common mild-flavored fish such as pollock. Binding ingredients and orange food coloring are added for realistic visual appeal and to facilitate formation into a shape that mimics real crab meat. 

That also makes it firm and easy to slice into your ramen meal. Understanding the taste of imitation crab is easier when recognizing that you've likely had it before without even knowing. If you've ever eaten fish sticks, crab cakes, crab rangoon, crab dip, and various other food items with a crab "flavor," there's a fairly good chance that imitation crab has passed your lips incognito. It may be labeled as "krab" or other similar wordings to indicate that it's primarily a fish protein with a tiny amount of real crab added for flavoring. 

Though the crab-like flavor and texture of imitation crab transforms instant ramen all on its own, you can enhance the combination even more with other ingredients. Tossing in some cooked vegetables instantly turns it into a tasty noodle bowl dish. If you're pressed for time, use a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables and drizzle the completed noodle bowl with teriyaki sauce. For even heartier fare, add some precooked diced chicken to the mix.