Pimp My Noodles
November 13, 2016 10:40 AM   Subscribe

What ingredients should I always have around so that I can easily whip up a great bowl of noodle soup, or just noodles, with all of the ramen, rice vermicelli, udon and buckwheat I have?

Looking mostly for shelf-stable pantry ingredients, but tips on how to best select, prep and store perishable ingredients (i.e. pork) are appreciated!

Ingredients I already have (besides noodles):
chicken/beef/veg stocks
instant dashi
different styles of fish sauce (Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai)
bonito flakes
soy and tamari sauce
umeboshi vinegar
wasabi powder
chili oil
fresh garlic and ginger
red miso
hardboiled eggs

What else? Especially ingredients that are substantial (most things I already have are for infusing flavor).

It's trickier to keep around easily perishable things like scallions and cilantro (though I've heard freezing them in ice cube trays works well for tossing in soups?), as well as cuts of meat - any pro tips?

Ideas for how to best combine the ingredients (including recipe links or recommended recipe books) are also welcome.

FYI, I have no dietary restrictions or allergies.
posted by nightrecordings to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
peanut butter for peanut sauce noodles.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:45 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by Bruce H. at 10:49 AM on November 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I'd definitely look at frozen green onion slices (freeze them loose on a plate or cookie sheet on parchment, then tip into a ziploc and roll up tightly, then put that zip in another ziploc with your other similar herbs), jalapeno or other chili/sweet pepper slices (keep them thin so they thaw instantly in hot broth), cilantro can be done in ice cubes of broth or stock (don't make full ice chunks, though, keep it to a couple of teaspoons per portion) or slurried in broth/stock and frozen flat in ziplocs so you can crack off a piece that will thaw very fast.

There's also either frozen or freeze-dried wakame (common in miso soup), and frozen or freeze-dried vegetables (see griphus's AskMe about ramen from last week).

I always keep a multipack of miso soup on hand, which means having single-serving packs of paste plus the little bags of dried mixins (usually some combo of wakame, freeze-dried tofu, aburaage (tofu skin pouches), green onions) that you could use for noodles.

There's also many kinds of Soba base available.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Tofu (lasts about a month in the fridge)
Dried Shitske Mushrooms (rehydrate in warm water for 15 min, use water to flavor soup and add the mushrooms)
Thousand year eggs (last awhile in the fridge, try a local Chinese market)
Ground pork (you can cook ahead with seasonings, then freeze in individual portions and defrost for dinner)
Frozen corn kernels
Walmart and other types of seaweed
Fish balls, pork balls, cuttlefish balls, etc (buy frozen at an Asian market)
posted by asphericalcow at 10:54 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like frozen asian vegetable mix. Water chestnuts, baby corn, red pepper, onion, broccoli.
All it takes is a handful.
posted by FallowKing at 10:57 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Raw eggs are nice stirred in to make an egg-drop soup type of thing (add after the noodles are cooked - the eggs only take a few seconds to set). Need refrigeration, but they'll keep in the fridge for a while.

Pressed tofu, sold in vacuum-packs in the refrigerated section at Asian markets, is a lot less perishable than normal tofu. Sometimes it's flavored with 5-spice powder, sometimes it's plain.

White miso is a lighter flavor than red miso and is sometimes refrigerated (depends on the salt content - just follow whatever your grocery store does).

Pickled ginger - also refrigerated but not terribly perishable.

Chinese sausage (lop chang) is traditionally stored at room temperature, although I admit I refrigerate mine. It can take a while to find a brand you like, and I find it's better to slice it and fry it before adding it to anything. A little can go a long way.

Same deal with Chinese bacon. (This website recommends soaking it before use, which I've never had to do with the brands we get here - YMMV.)
posted by Quietgal at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Toasted sesame oil and good quality olive oil.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:15 AM on November 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Cook up some pork belly, slice into slices, portion and freeze

Make some miso-glazed pulled pork, portion and freeze

Get some narutomaki, slice up, portion and freeze

Get a can of bamboo shoots, portion and freeze

Braise some collard greens, portion and freeze

One thing I have done is to effectively make "ramen kits" by preparing a bunch of ingredients, portioning them together in amounts suitable for one serving, and then vacuum-packing and freezing them.
posted by slkinsey at 11:19 AM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Tom yum paste. Crispy onions. Picked ginger (and other pickled veggies).
posted by Candleman at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2016

posted by Thorzdad at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2016

Kimchi! Technically perishable but lasts forever. A bit of the 'juice' mixed in to the soup and a lovely spicy crunchy pile served on top or to the side. I do this often to dress up noodle soups and bulk them out a tiny bit.
posted by DSime at 11:59 AM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

  • Cans of coconut milk to switch up your broth flavor/consistency/fillingness options
  • Red and green curry pastes (comes in tiny jars that last forever, refrigerate when opened)
  • Pork floss
  • Togarashi
  • Furikake
  • Dried shrimp
  • Fresh garlic, which keeps forever and is delicious when garlic-pressed directly into soup before serving
Make-ahead-and-freeze (or buy frozen):
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:29 PM on November 13, 2016

I'll make pasta salads with any kind of noodle, oil, and vinegar + veggies and protein.

Seconding sesame and olive oil.

Apple cider, rice, black and red wine/balsamic vinegars.

Frozen veggies (endamame and broccoli are my standards) in steamer bags to either toss in a pasta salad or add to soup. Canned artichokes and beans.

For easy quick protein I keep around frozen cooked shrimp or canned/bagged chicken.

You then just combine whatever sounds good to you. A go to for me is sesame oil, black vinegar, soy sauce, endamame, steamed broccoli and shrimp.

I also usually have lunch meat around, so I'll add red wine, olive oil, broccoli, artichokes, chopped salami, and canned chicken, but I usually use a whole wheat rotini for this one.
posted by ghost phoneme at 1:36 PM on November 13, 2016

Mark Bittman's recipe for Egg Noodles in Soy Broth is all shelf-stable ingredients, and while it sounds really odd I can verify that it's good! You can sub any type of noodles and add any ingredients - it's very flexible. His recipe calls for six cups of water plus:

⅓ cup soy sauce, more to taste
⅓ cup ketchup or 3 tablespoons tomato paste
a pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, more to taste
A few drops dark sesame oil (optional)
A squirt of sriracha or other sauce, or a dried red chili to taste optional

I also like to do a really simple peanut sauce for noodles that has a base of just peanut butter and soy sauce - I usually also add some rice vinegar, sriracha, and sometimes sesame oil. You can use tahini instead of part or all of the peanut butter.

Silken tofu usually (always?) comes in shelf stable packaging and is good in soup.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:56 PM on November 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

tahini, dried mushrooms, seaweed, wakami...
posted by Toddles at 7:22 PM on November 13, 2016

Chili paste is also great, and keeps forever in the fridge. I'm partial to this recipe, which works with multiple noodle types, is nice sprinkled with sesame seeds and sliced cucumber, but works just fine without the veggies. Roasted salted peanuts are shelf stable and can be chopped up and added to just about anything.

Also, Trader Joe's carries ginger paste in a tube (if you want a break from fussing with fresh ginger) and assorted frozen dumplings which can be thrown in broth for quick and easy protein and body. /peanIf you do keep herbs around, this Serious Eats page is a wealth of info on maximizing their fridge life.

Happy noodling!
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 12:54 AM on November 14, 2016

I make udon soup regularly out of pantry staples. It's one of my go-to weekday meals. Things I use that you don't list:

- wakame (not nori, which just distintegrates)
- frozen udon noodles
- frozen meat, divided into small fish-appropriate portions before freezing
- frozen fish cake
- dried shiitake mushrooms
- eggs
- tofu, in a pack that's divided in half

I use either hardboiled eggs or, sometimes I poach a raw egg in the broth. This is only worth it if you are comfortable eating runny egg (but if you are it's delicious).

A single pack of tofu is often too much if I'm cooking for myself, so I buy the Pulmuone package with it divided into two compartments. Not all stores have this.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:22 AM on November 14, 2016

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