Recipe Review

The Internet Can’t Get Enough of This 3-Ingredient Instant Ramen Trick

published Apr 28, 2021
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Credit: Naomi Tomky

As a person who considers instant ramen and Diet Coke to be the finest food and drink pairing under the sun, I’ve been working on ramen variations not only since before social media was invented, but since before there were cell phones. I’m old enough to say that, but still young enough to have found this popular trick on TikTok that claims it makes instant ramen broth taste like it’s been simmering for hours — just like at a restaurant.

When Momofuku Ando invented instant ramen in 1958, he developed a technique to flash-fry the noodles so they cooked quickly in boiling water — evading the cumbersome process of making and storing fresh noodles, but retaining the quick cooking time. But the oft-repeated legend of Ando’s innovation never delves into the other half of the ramen equation: the broth. Instead, the thin flavor of the powdered packets dissolved in water just became accepted as part of the instant ramen world, despite its vast inferiority to the long-simmered bone broths with complex, layered flavor.

As with so many tiny things that deserve to be improved, social media has a solution. A Japanese YouTube channel (loosely translated: Hungry Grizzly) posted a video in December demonstrating how to turn instant ramen into a creamy broth that gives the illusion of much deeper flavors using Kewpie mayonnaise, garlic, and an egg — and it requires no extra time. 

With half a million views — and tons of praise — the idea fanned the flames of ramen fanatics on Japanese social media. In January, ramen YouTuber Way of Ramen brought the idea into the English-speaking world and it caught fire on TikTok again. Since then, it’s been all over there, Instagram, food blogs, and, of course, in home kitchens.

Ramen with mayonnaise is nothing new: Redditors covered it a few years ago, it’s long been a hack employed by people in prison, and there’s even instant ramen that comes with packaged mayonnaise flavoring. But what the Hungry Grizzly did was take it to the next level by adding richness with the extra egg, and flavor with the garlic. I obviously had to try it for myself.

How to Make Creamy Instant Ramen

I grabbed the nearest ramen — I mostly use Indomie Mi Goreng these days, but since it doesn’t have quite the same type of broth, I dug into my pantry and found a pack of spicy Jin ramen. It wasn’t the exact brand that Hungry Grizzly recommends (that would be the Sapporo Ichiban miso flavor) but it seemed perfect — the only thing I didn’t love when I had sampled it was that the broth was spicy without the robust flavor to match it.

While the water came to a boil, I mixed together one egg, a tablespoon of Kewpie mayonnaise, the powdered soup packet, and a clove of grated garlic in separate bowl. Okay, two cloves of garlic — I am unable to follow even loose viral recipes without doubling the garlic. 

I finished beating that together before my noodles finished cooking. When they were done, I poured the hot water slowly into the bowl, whisking with my chopsticks to help emulsify it, then plopped my noodles in.

Credit: Naomi Tomky

My Honest Review of the Creamy Ramen Trick All Over TikTok

At first glance, I was disappointed it didn’t seem to stay perfectly emulsified, but the separation in the broth was minor, and the flavor was significantly improved. The spicy ramen became a little more muted, but overall it felt richer. And it was creamier, if not actually creamy. The garlic added depth to the mayonnaise, giving it the kinds of layers of flavor you would expect from the longer-simmered version. I wouldn’t say it tastes like the creamy broth I get at Marutama Ramen in Vancouver, but for little extra effort or ingredients, it definitely works well and I would do it again if I were extra hungry or splitting the ramen with someone, since one packet plus mayonnaise and an egg is more than I normally eat for lunch. 

My #1 Tip for Making Creamy Ramen from TikTok

Play around with the kind of instant ramen you use for this trick. It occurs to me that perhaps my minor enjoyment rather than the rabid enthusiasm shown by TikTokers was due to the type or ramen I used, so I was thrilled to find an article that tried this trick with lots of different types of ramen —  including my beloved Indomie. She liked that even better, so I guess that’s next on my list to see if it gets me excited enough to shout about it on social media.