Brilliant noodle upgrade, or waste of perfectly good rice wine?

Even among those who’d argue that preparing instant ramen counts as cooking, most of them would say it just barely qualifies. Peel back the lid, sprinkle on the seasonings, fill the cup with hot water, and you’re done, right?

Recently, though, ramen fans have been passing around a newly discovered technique for sprucing up cup ramen, with satisfied experimenters claiming that adding sake to the broth dramatically improves the flavor. Some have gone so far as to say the special ingredient makes the meal doubly delicious.

It’s actually not such a crazy notion, given that sake, especially in its sweetened form, called mirin, is a fairly common ingredient in traditional Japanese recipes (and we’ve also experienced how it can enhance Kit Kats). What’s more, we’re never ones to back away from finding cheap and tasty things to eat, and our lifestyles are such that we’ve almost always got a bottle of sake lying around, so we decided to test the tip out for ourselves with Nissin-brand Cup Noodle instant ramen.

The initial steps of making sake ramen are just like those for normal ramen. Add whatever seasonings come with the specific brand you’re using, pour in your hot water, and wait until the noodles are cooked.


Next, pour in a measure of sake. Most online recommendations say to add a sake cup’s full, but that means the exact volume varies by the particular drinking vessel being used. In the interest of keeping our experiment’s results repeatable, we decided to be a bit more precise, and so we added one tablespoon of sake to our cooked noodles, then gave the contents of the cup a few good stirs to help the rice wine mix throughout the broth.


While we were swirling our chopsticks, the unmistakable aroma of sake drifted up from the cup. Taking a sip of the broth, and were surprised by how much we could taste the sake. Instead of a strong alcoholic kick, though, mixing with the ramen broth brought out more of the sweetness in its flavor profile, and also imparted a bit of pleasant creaminess to the broth’s mouth feel.


We were thoroughly impressed, although if you’re not an experienced sake drinker, you might want to start off with a smaller amount of sake than we did, such as a teaspoon. Really, though, we could see ourselves eating sake ramen again, since the results are much, much more pleasant than the last time we tried Cup Noodles with an unorthodox addition.

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