Source: original experiment
Preparation time: Under 10 minutes
Cooking time: About 15 minutes
Yield: About 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, sliced thin, or 1/4 pound of some other uncooked meat (such as shrimp or beef)
  • 1-2 tsp oriental chili paste
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (Kikkoman)
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 8-ounce can sliced bamboo shoots (Sun Luck)
  • 1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts (Sun Luck)
  • 1 10-ounce can bean sprouts (Sun Luck)
  • 3 green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 package ramen noodles (the kind college students get for 15 cents at the store, such as Marchuan or Top Ramen)
Disclaimer: Brand names in parentheses are the author's recommendations for the best results, and should not be interpreted as advertisements or other sorts of tie-ins.

Cooking instructions

  1. Heat a large wok to medium-high.
  2. Combine meat, soy sauce, garlic, and chili paste. Stir occasionally until meat is mostly cooked.
  3. Add corn starch and stir until the liquid is consistent.
  4. Add the cans of vegetables (without draining the liquid) and green onions, allowing them to cover the meat.
  5. While allowing the wok's contents to come to a slow boil, in a separate pot, prepare the ramen noodles as directed for a side dish (i.e. drain when finished) EXCEPT don't add the "flavor" (a.k.a. artificially-colored MSG) packet. (Don't worry about wasting the flavor packet. The whole package of noodles only cost 15 cents, remember? Maybe you have a friend or roommate who likes artificial beef stock, if you're that environmentally-conscious.)
  6. Let the wok keep on boiling a little while but stir until it's well-mixed and you can see that the meat is fit for consumption.
  7. Reduce the wok to a simmer, and add the ramen noodles. Stir until it's soup.
  8. Eat. You may want to add more chili paste and/or Sri Racha chili sauce (the spicy Vietnamese answer to ketchup), depending on your tastes and pain thresholds. (Note: If you've never used these ingredients before, don't be a macho idiot. Add a little bit at a time, or you'll quickly ruin the flavor and think this recipe sucks.)

Variations

  • Experiment with different vegetables. A good substitution is bok choi (an Asian cabbage) instead of the water chestnuts.
  • Alternatively, try bok choi instead of the ramen noodles; add it along with the rest of the vegetables
  • Drain the cans of vegetables before adding them to the wok, and this makes a great stir-fry for chow mein or lo mein noodles. You may need to leave out the corn starch. (This soup recipe actually started out as an attempt at improvising pseudo-lo mein using ramen noodles, and for some reason I decided not to drain the vegetables.)
  • Leave out the corn starch for a thinner soup. Make it in larger quantities with a wider variety of vegetables (and without the noodles) for a Vietnamese-style soup. (For the proper Vietnamese flavor the soy sauce should probably be left out as well, with the meat cooked under vegetable, chicken, or beef broth.)
  • Figure out some way of giving it a more constant specific heat, rather than being way too hot for a long time then suddenly getting really cold really quick.
  • Add a scrambled (but uncooked) egg while the soup is still boiling and stir. Yum. (If you don't want to take the time and waste a bowl to scramble the egg, you can just shake it really hard while it's still in the shell, or use one of Ron Popeil's in-shell egg scramblers, available on eBay.)

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