The ramen burger: New York’s latest attempt to combine two foods into one food. A limited edition burger sandwiched between buns of fried ramen noodles, it’s one of the more inventive ways to kill yourself out there, but jeezum crow it is tasty. Smorgasburg only sells like 100 of these a day and the line is always out of control, which means getting one of these is harder than trying to keep a cat calm at a bath convention. If you don’t want to get up early on a Saturday and stand around for two hours to eat noodles and beef at 10am, here’s how you can make your own on a very literal ramen budget.
How do I know how to do this? I’m a self-taught cook and pretty, shall we say, fiscally challenged. So let’s get started with the this month’s Cronut, the ramen burger!
One packet of ramen
Salt n’ Pepper
So let’s begin with what should be muscle memory for most of you guys – making ramen. Just cook per the instructions on the packet. I used Beef Flavor, because duh, but if you want to have a hint of shrimp to your burger, be my incredibly weird guest. Once that’s done strain out the remnant liquid and let it cool down a bit. Whisk an egg and then mix said eggy goodness into the noodly goodness for nooggly goodness.
Now we come to the tricky part: turning a loose assemblage of noodles into buns. Get out a shallow but relatively straight-sided and flat-bottomed bowl. Apparently there are things called ramekins? But c’mon, it was miraculous when I reached the level of owning more than one pan, so I don’t have the kind of kitchen equipment that I have to Google the spelling for. I used little pie bowls but you can really use whatever is most convenient to hold the mold – cookie cutters, frisbees, telepathy, you name it.
Put equal amounts of ramen into each bowl and cover with saran wrap. Get out a can of something dense- soup, beans, artisanal pickles if you want to double your chances to be featured in a Times style piece – and mash the ramen down into little patty-like discs, molding tightly with the bowl and saran wrap. You see where this is going yet?
Pop those suckers in the fridge and let ‘em sit for, um, say 20 minutes? Or, as I did, two episodes of Adventure Time, which I’m now introducing as a unit of time.
Heat up a pan with some neutral oil in it to medium-high. Now, the trickiest part is getting your ramen buns out of their molds. Peel back the saran warp and flip over the bowl right on top of the pan. Did it fall out? Nope, didn’t for me, either. Use your fingers and very, very delicately start peeling the “bun” off the bottom and then peel the rest off the bowl with your trusty spatula. Once they’re free from the bowl, and if none of the noodles broke free from the bun, place it in the pan for that noodly sizzle.
Cook each “bun” until it’s golden brown on each side. This should be, per side, about five minutes (or, a half episode of Adventure Time).
In the meanwhile mix together your beef with your preferred seasoning. I’m a simple, humble man, so I just use salt n’ pepper. Also, keeping with the fast food nature of this jam, I went with the smash technique, so hulk out on that patty to get it thin and flat, just like Justin Beiber without autotune. When your ramen has turned from noodle mass into bun creature put them on a paper-towel-covered plate to wick some grease from them. Wash out your pan and throw the burger in there. Pan burgers don’t take too long, especially if they’re thin, so keep a close eye on this sucker like it’s a kid prone to getting lost on field trips.
Now it’s the time for the sauce. Frankly, I have no idea what the “secret shoyu” sauce is on the real deal Ramen Burger, but as opposed to doing some purity testing, reverse engineering or other terms I learned from Breaking Bad I just made a mix of soy sauce, traditional ramen topping and the traditional burger topping, ketchup. When hodgepodging foods it’s important to play to both strengths. Add srircha if you want to add some kick to your concoction.
When it’s bloody good looking, it’s the time to assemble your culinary Voltron. From studying photos of the real deal I’m pretty sure it goes, from bottom to top, ramen-arugula-sauce-burger-scallions-ramen. Or, my handy pneumonic, Read Austen, Said Bob, and Seduce Readily.
And there you have it! Your own, home-grown Ramen Burger! Just look at how adorably freakish it is.
Frankly, upon review, I can say that this thing is as tasty as it is heartburn-inducing. We’re talking Zantac for dessert. But the ramen bun is actually kind of a savvy idea since noodles tend to absorb the sauce around them, so the burger juices infuse the buns more interestingly than just bread. It’s a salty, fatty trip. Whether or not this wins the slugfest against the Cronut is another story, but I can tell you there is actually something to this besides gimmick. And it costs freaking nothing to make, so sleep in, cook well, and wait for the next foodie Frankenstein, which I’m predicting will be falafel waffles, or The Fawaffle.
Follow more of Dan’s culinary adventures at Sad Tapas