Funny story, back in middle school a friend of mine gave a “how-to” presentation in speech class on eating uncooked ramen – yes in speech class. He spent a few minutes talking about the best brand, and how to prepare this snack.
Before this strange, albeit entertaining speech, I had never thought of eating raw ramen, but it turns out that you actually can eat raw ramen and in a variety of ways – from eating them like chips to sprinkling them over the top of a salad.
I personally have only eaten raw ramen a couple of times, one of which was directly linked to being curious after my friend’s speech, I still prefer to cook my ramen and even spice it up a bit.
But, you certainly can eat raw ramen. If you’ve never tried it before, I recommend it. It’s basic, but works surprisingly well in a range of recipes! Keep on reading to learn more about the ins and outs of eating raw ramen.
Is it Safe To Eat Raw Ramen?
You may have heard that it’s unsafe to eat raw ramen, or that it might give you a stomach ache. However, it’s actually completely safe to eat raw ramen!
You can even find it explicitly stated on Nisssin’s (the company that makes Top Ramen and Cup Noodles) website that it’s totally safe to eat uncooked Top Ramen noodles. They say that it’s safe to eat because it’s already cooked and then dehydrated.
How is Ramen Made?
Before they’re turned into the dry and tightly packed brick of noodles that you buy, ramen is made, like most noodles, with some combination of water, flour, and salt.
It may be a bit surprising to think that the brick of noodles was once a dough that was cut into long, thin pieces, and then cooked – primarily through boiling or steaming. Most of us are probably accustomed to thinking of them solely in their dehydrated form.
While it’s possible to buy completely uncooked ramen noodles at an Asian or specialty supermarket, it’s not so common. When you do find them, they’re much more expensive and will have a true expiration date. Whereas with the dried variety, they will be good almost indefinitely.
The process of cooking them and then drying them is what allows them to not only have an extremely long shelf life but also allows them to be packaged so tightly. You’ll notice this if you have seen a package of uncooked “wet” ramen noodles – the noodles are much bigger and loosely packed than those that are dried like Top Ramen.
How to Prepare Raw Ramen
If you’re curious about eating raw ramen, then you definitely should give it a go. As I’ve already said, it’s totally safe to eat. It also can be a great snack and a way to enjoy the salty goodness of ramen without the need for water! It also lets you enjoy ramen on the go – as walking around with a bowl of noodles isn’t the most practical thing.
If you’re going to enjoy raw ramen, I have some tips for you.
First, you probably don’t want to eat it like a sandwich and take bites straight out of the brick of noodles. I tried it once (so you don’t have to) and it didn’t turn out very well. It did the same thing as a crunchy taco shell and broke into multiple pieces. It’s also very difficult to enjoy the seasoning when you eat that way!
It seems like I’m coming full circle, back to that day in middle school when Tyler told us how to eat raw ramen. Here’s how to prepare raw ramen.
- Before you open the package, crush the noodles. Make sure to try to do this as gently as possible because if you break open the package unexpectedly you may have a mess of crushed noodles all over the place. If you think that this may happen to you, you can put the brick of noodles in a sealable plastic bag – the larger the better – and then proceed to crush the noodles.
- Then, pour the seasoning packet into the bag with the crushed ramen noodles. The seasoning is very salty and you should consider that there is no added water to dilute it. So, you may not want to use the whole packet. You can add the seasoning bit by bit to avoid having an overly salty snack.
- Close the bag and then shake well. This allows for the even coating of the ramen pieces with the seasoning.
- Taste a piece and see if you need more seasoning and then repeat. Or, if it’s good to go, enjoy!
You don’t have to use just the seasoning packet that’s included either.
Feel free to add some of your own spices as well if you have some on hand. For me, a nice addition is just a tiny sprinkle of chili flakes or chili powder to give it a bit of a kick. Another good addition can be citrus salt too!
Is Eating Raw Ramen Bad For You?
As I’ve already mentioned, it’s totally safe to eat dry ramen and it won’t cause any harm to your health. You can compare it to eating other salty processed foods like potato chips or crackers. Like other processed foods, ramen can pose long-term health risks, which perhaps isn’t too surprising.
Almost any highly processed food isn’t likely to be good for you. In high quantities, they’re all bad for your health. This is because generally there is nearly no nutritional value. This is the case with ramen, whether it’s cooked or eaten raw.
Whichever way you eat it, the calories and carbohydrates will still be the same, as will the high amount of sodium. Also, there are no other important components of a healthy diet like protein, fiber, and other crucial minerals and vitamins.
However, ramen isn’t entirely without nutritional value. There is a small number of micronutrients like niacin, B vitamins, and thiamin in some brands, and in some places like Indonesia, instant noodles can even sometimes be fortified with iron.
However, the high sodium levels in instant ramen can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular health. As well as the MSG and TBHQ may pose health risks by increasing your risk of stomach cancer, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.
Most health risks with eating ramen are only if you eat too much of it. Like anything, you should enjoy it in moderation. Be sure to eat it alongside plenty of unprocessed and whole foods as well.
Best Ways to Use Raw Ramen
I have previously mentioned that I like to spice up cooked ramen, but that’s not to say that I’m totally against using raw ramen. In fact, there are a few great ways to use raw ramen.
I’ve already talked about perhaps the most common way to use raw ramen – as a quick, easy, and tasty snack that you can enjoy on the go. But there are other uses too. These include as a salad ingredient, a dessert topping, or as a breadcrumb substitute. Let’s check out how you can do each of these.
Using raw ramen as “breadcrumbs” is a great idea. This is because not only does a package of ramen include the dried noodles to make the breadcrumbs, but it also includes the seasoning that you can add to your breadcrumbs to boost the flavor of whatever dish that you are using them for. It’s very simple to do as well.
- Take the uncooked ramen and the seasonings you use (perhaps the seasoning packet?) and place them in a food processor. You can also incorporate stale bread too if you’d like.
- Emulsify them until they’re the size that you want and the seasonings have been properly incorporated. If you don’t have a food processor you can also crush them by hand.
There ya go! Now you can bread chicken fillets, or whatever else you want to coat with these delicious “breadcrumbs”.
A Surprising Dessert Topping
This one may seem a bit bizarre for most people. But if you think about it, it’s really not too crazy. After all, it really is only the salty spice packet that gives ramen its super salty flavor. The method is pretty similar to when you’re making it as a snack. Here’s what you need to do:
- Crush the noodles to the appropriate size. I like to make sure they’re quite small so they only provide a bit of a crunchy texture element and don’t add their flavor.
- Mix the crushed noodles with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar so the flavors can absorb into the noodles and cover and “noodly” taste they may have.
- Sprinkle them on whatever dessert you’d like. Ice cream sundaes are a great option!
Boosting Your Salad
You can elevate the texture and taste of a salad by using raw ramen. It’s a super-easy way to make them more interesting in both the flavor and providing a crunchy dimension. Here’s how to do it:
- Crush up the raw ramen noodles and coat with the included seasoning packet or use some herbs and spices of your own.
- Then either sprinkle them over the top of the salad or fully mix them into the salad. Either one is a great option!