The Meaty Ingredient That Will Change Your Instant Ramen Forever

Ramen may have been invented by Chinese immigrants to Japan, but it wasn't until Momofuku Ando figured out the secret to making instant ramen in 1958, that ramen really took off, eventually becoming the popular worldwide dish that it is today. Available in packages and bowls, with seasoning packets and sometimes some freeze-dried vegetables, instant ramen comes in different flavors and is very affordable, a big reason it became popular with a college students all over.

And sure, instant ramen can be enjoyed as it, but what many have discovered is that you can take instant ramen to a whole another level, one that can border on gourmet, by simply adding a few extra ingredients to it. There's no limit to what you can add — Chef Roy Choi likes to add slices of American cheese and butter to make the perfect instant ramen. More classic options include an egg (whether fried, poached, soft boiled, or hard boiled is up to you), veggies like spinach, seaweed, or mushrooms, and some kind of seafood or meat, which turns the instant ramen into a hearty meal.

Spam is a great meaty addition to instant ramen

Spam may have a reputation as mystery meat that comes in a tin, but it's essentially pork with ham. Originally introduced during the Great Depression, it became popular during World War II, where it spread to, and became popular in, the Pacific Islands. In Hawaii, Spam musubis are a staple, as is Spam saimin, Hawaii's version of ramen. Spam with instant ramen is also a popular breakfast dish in Hong Kong, and a popular spicy stew in Korea.

It turns out that Spam is a fantastic meaty protein to add to instant ramen. Both Maruchan (makers of instant ramen) and the makers of Spam offer easy recipes on their websites that anyone can try out at home: prepare your instant ramen according to the instructions on the package; pan fry several slices of Span until crispy, then fry an egg in the same pan; add the crispy spam, fried egg, and sliced green onions as toppings to a bowl of instant ramen with broth. Bon Appétit offers a variation, which calls for using chicken stock instead of the seasoning packet that comes with the instant ramen, but the result is the same: a delicious and filling bowl of salty and umami goodness perfect for slurping!