Instant Ramen: Turning basic into boujee

Article and pictures by Jawaun Jackson, Contributing Writer

Brief history time, ramen pronounced (Rah-Men, not ray-men) is a Japanese dish with the translation of “pulled noodles.” It consists of Chinese wheat noodles served in a meat or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso. Essentially it is a Japanese presentation of Chinese noodles. The origins of ramen are a bit muggy, but the most plausible story is that Chinese immigrants from the 19th and 20th century brought the noodles with them in Yokohama Chinatown. According to the record of the Yokohama Ramen Museum, ramen originated in China and made its way over to Japan in 1859. Early versions were wheat noodles in broth topped with Chinese-style roast pork.

The Instant noodles we all know and either love or hate were created by inventor Momofuku Ando in Japan. Ando developed instants noodles by flash frying noodles in processes of noodle-making, steaming, seasoning, to dehydrating in oil heat. They were first sold on August 25, 1958 by Ando’s company, Nissin. Due to the noodles being flash fried it gave them a longer shelf life than frozen ones. Each block was sold for 35 yen a piece which is around 203 yen in the price today, equating to about $1.86 USD.

Here comes the Boujee

“Cacio e pepe” means “cheese and pepper” in several central Italian dialects and as the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple: black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and spaghetti. Spaghetti are normally used but any rough pasta works well so the sauce can adhere to the noodles. It was commonly consumed by shepherds due to the durability and storage of the ingredients. The pasta is prepared in boiling salted water as usual. It is then poured into the grated pecorino mixed with black pepper, with a little of the hot starchy cooking water. The heat melts the cheese, and the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta. The pasta water starch helps aid the sauce thicken and coat the noodles. Essentially its pasta water grated pecorino or parmesan with black pepper mixed in with noodles so easy a student living with just a microwave can do it.

From basic to boujee

The recipe and cooking

The following recipe comes from Chef David Chan in the first season of PBS’s “Mind of A Chef”

Instant Ramen Cacio e Pepe

Recipe Type: Entree

Cuisine: Japanese/Italian Fusion

Author: David Chang

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 2 people


  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • + black pepper (I used 3/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup pecorino Romano
  • 2 packages of instant ramen, seasoning packets set aside


  1. In a large sauce pan (or in most students case micro wave a container for about 3-6 minutes or until water begins to boil), bring the water, butter, olive oil, and pepper to a boil.
  2. Once the butter has completely melted, reduce the heat to a simmer and add the cheese. Using chopsticks, stir constantly until the cheese has melted. (A fork works just as fine). Immediately add the ramen bricks and continue stirring so the cheese doesn’t clump.
  3. Continue to stir and turn the noodles bricks until the noodles separate. Once separate, you want to constantly stir to develop a creamy sauce, approximately 3 1/2 – 4 minutes. (You can pour some of the liquid out if you’re getting close to the 3 1/2 – 4-minute mark and you still have a lot of liquid left).
  4. Divide the noodles among two bowls, grind a good amount of fresh ground pepper over top, and some extra cheese if you like. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Feel free to adjust the recipe to your liking and comment your results!




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