There is nothing – seriously, nothing – better than tucking into a nice, hot bowl of soup noodles for dinner, especially if you’ve had a long day and have had to go through the traffic that has become the constant bane of every city dweller here in the Philippines. If you manage to get to a ramen-ya for a bowl of proper ramen, so much more the better.
But, for all the rest of us who haven’t got the time nor the energy to go out to dinner, all it takes is a dab hand with instants and a keen eye, nose, and palate for some rather unusual ingredients. Also, a good gastronomic imagination – and using said imagination – helps to turn a mundane bowl of soup into something special to cheer you up even on a weeknight.
All I needed for a spanking-good dinner last night was a packet of Nongshim seafood noodles, a packet of chicken-skin chicharon, a stick of chicken proven (the proventiculum section of a fowl’s digestive system), an egg, and a little bit of green in the form of finely-chopped nori.
This is about as easy as it gets, really. You pop the chicharon into a toaster oven for about three minutes to crisp up; the proven (or any other street snack that you fancy; for preference grilled isaw (chicken intestines) or pork barbecue will do) gets finely chopped. You prepare the noodles by boiling up a cup and a half of water for about four minutes. Halfway through the process, add the contents of the flavouring packets and your chopped offal and stir well. Crack the egg into the roiling broth and cover for a couple of minutes. Switch off the burner, pour into a bowl, top with your crisped-up chicharon and some finely shredded nori or spring onions, and enjoy.
One caveat, though: use a mildly-flavoured instant ramen for this dish as anything more incendiary would mask the flavours of all the other elements.
That said, you get a delicious dinner in a jiff and you get to sleep with a full, satisfied belly, set to rest up for yet another day.