The Simple Way To Upgrade Your Ramen

Instant ramen noodles are a quick, easy comfort meal that many people enjoy. According to the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA), around 118 billion servings of instant noodles were consumed around the world in 2021. Among those countries, China and Hong Kong came in first place with almost 44 billion servings consumed in 2021. Indonesia ate around 13.3 billion servings, Vietnam served up about 8.6 billion bowls of ramen, India tallied up an estimated 7.6 billion servings, and Japan rounds out the top five with almost 5.9 billion servings.

While China may consume the most instant noodles overall, South Korea came in first place for most instant ramen noodles per capita in 2019, meaning that the average South Korean person eats about 75.6 servings of instant noodles each year, according to Statista. Nepal was second with around 58.4 servings eaten per person annually, while Indonesia came in third with an estimated 46.8 servings consumed per person. Interestingly, Japan and China were fourth and fifth place respectively, with an average of 44.5 bowls eaten per capita in Japan and about 29.6 instant ramen bowls consumed per person in China. 

With so many people enjoying instant ramen noodles today, let's take a look at how the popular instant classic got its start, along with a simple way to upgrade the dish the next time you make it.

Add garlic, Japanese mayo, and an egg to your ramen

According to Time Out, there's a simple way to upgrade your ramen, and it only takes three ingredients: grated or minced garlic cloves, a raw egg, and Japanese mayonnaise. The easy ramen hack has been popularized on TikTok, with the hashtag #mayoramen garnering 18.7 million views as of November 2022. However, the supposed creator of the recipe is a Japanese YouTuber, Harapeko Grizzly, who posted a video in December 2020.

In their Youtube video, Harapeko Grizzly mixes garlic paste, a raw egg, and mayonnaise with the flavoring packet from a bag of Sapporo Ichiban miso flavor ramen in a bowl to make the soup base. They then boil 500 milliliters of water in a pot and add the noodles, letting them boil until they are soft and loose. The last step is bringing it all together by pouring the water from the boiling noodles into the bowl with the soup base, mixing until it's all combined. Then add the noodles and garnish as desired.

Harapeko Grizzly adds sliced green onions and a soft-boiled egg to their mayo ramen, but you can also add sesame seeds, chili oil, and other garnishes (per Time Out).

The beginnings of instant ramen noodles

According to Tokyo Ramen Tours, Japan was suffering from a food shortage after World War II. The United States gave Japan large amounts of wheat flour, which was used to make fresh ramen noodles that were then sold in various food carts. Then, a businessman of Japanese and Taiwanese descent named Momofuku Ando invented the first instant ramen noodles in 1958. Ando worked by himself for a year in a shed in the backyard of his home in the city of Ikeda in the Osaka Prefecture of Japan, according to the Cup Noodles Museum.

The result of his labor was instant ramen with a chicken flavor, which was packaged in a similar packet or bag style that most other ramen brands use today. Ando's chicken ramen took off, and he later founded Nissin Food Products. In 1971, Ando was inspired to create Cup Noodles after a trip to the United States where he saw Americans crushing Ando's chicken ramen to fit and cook the noodles in a cup. 

Today, Nissin offers nine variations of instant noodles in different flavors, including Cup Noodles and the original chicken ramen that Ando invented. Instant ramen noodles are a classic comfort food for many, thanks in large part to Ando.