The first time I discovered ramen noodle salad was a culinary revelation. (Yes, those 99-cent ramen noodles.) It was sweet, tangy, and crunchy all at the same time, and it was a far cry from the creamy Southern slaws of my youth. Needless to say, I was hooked.
I didn't get my first taste of ramen noodle salad until a few years ago, but apparently it has been appearing at church potlucks and picnics for quite some time. Who knew?! (Apparently not me.) I have made up for lost time, however, by serving it at plenty of outdoor barbecues and spontaneous gatherings. It never fails to please a crowd and there are rarely ever leftovers. Even ramen snobs go back for seconds, and that's impressive enough for me.
There are hundreds of variations of this recipe floating around the internet, but this is the recipe I have whittled down to my fit my preferences. Feel free to experiment with quantities and flavors to your own liking — this recipe is very forgiving. My only real caveat: make double!
1 (12-ounce) package rainbow slaw mix (See Recipe Note) 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles, crushed (discard the seasoning packet)
1/4 cup chow mien noodles
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green parts only
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
In a large bowl combine slaw mix, vinegar, sesame oil, neutral oil, honey, and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least one hour (or overnight) to allow flavors to mingle.
Taste and adjust any seasonings as desired. Fold in ramen noodles, chow mein noodles, green onions, and almonds right before serving.
I tested with a store-bought rainbow slaw mix consisting of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage. You can substitute 5 cups of chopped fresh vegetables if you prefer not to use a pre-shredded mix.