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How to make your own premium ramen

Ramen, or ramyeon in Korean, is loved by all generations for its convenience and unique taste. And it seems like the nation’s ramen makers are pushing their “premium brands” to make more money from impressionable consumers. Nongshim, a local ramen and snack manufacturer, launched the high-end ramen brand Shin Ramyun Black in April, an offshoot of its steady-seller Shin Ramyun. Despite its high price (double that of Shin Ramyun), the new brand brought in about 9.4 billion won ($8.5 million) for the company last month.

The industry considers a ramen brand to be a hit if it generates sales of more than 2 billion won a month.

The JoongAng Ilbo spoke with cooking expert Lee Hye-jung, also known as Big Mama, about how anyone can make their own premium ramen at home.

Ramen for singles

* Big Mama says: Petite sausages, often dubbed Vienna sausages in Korea, are often found in bachelors’ refrigerators.
To spice up ramen, I chose to add sausages and cabbage, because most ramen lack fiber. In addition to that, use two-thirds of the soup packet to lower the sodium intake. If you want to make your ramen a decent meal, top the noodles off with a poached egg.

* Ingredients: Two leaves of green cabbage; a fistful of petite sausages; one egg; two-thirds of the soup packet; one teaspoon of vinegar; two and a half cups of water; ramen noodles

* Instructions: 1. Chop cabbage and blanch sausages in boiling water.
2. Make a poached egg: Pour a teaspoon of vinegar into boiling water, break an egg into a ladle, and then boil the egg in boiling water for about three minutes.
3. Boil water and add cabbage, sausage, noodles and flavoring. Let it simmer for three minutes. Serve the ramen with the poached egg.

Ramen for children

* Big Mama says: Children love sweet and spicy flavors. Use some gochujang, or red pepper paste, and sugar for the main sauce.
Add pork, bok choy and vitamin C-rich paprika to make your ramen nutritious.

* Ingredients: 50 grams of pork jowl; one package of instant noodles; five pieces of bok choy; two teaspoons of cooking oil; one teaspoon of gochujang; and one teaspoon of sugar

* Instructions: 1. Mince pork and paprika and prepare bok choy by rinsing it with water.
2. Stir-fry pork. When cooked through, add bok choy, paprika, gochujang and sugar.
3. Boil ramen noodles and drain well.
4. When noodles are ready, serve with stir-fried vegetables.

Ramen for seniors

* Big Mama says: An increasing number of seniors live alone, and many eat ramen for convenience. For seniors, I recommend adding doenjang, or soybean paste, instead of a soup packet. In addition to that, white radish helps digestion.

* Ingredients: 1/5 of a white radish; 1/3 of a carrot; three teaspoons of doenjang; 50 grams of pork jowl; one teaspoon of chungju, or refined rice wine; two and a half cups of water; and ramen noodles

* Instructions: 1. After the water boils add chungju. Then add radish and doenjang and let the water boil for two more minutes.
2. Add chunks of jowl and simmer until the jowl is cooked.
3. Add noodles and boil for three more minutes.

By Lee Sang-eun [so@joongang.co.kr]

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