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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Trail Chef: Not-So-Common Ramen

In a tip of the hat to this universal noodle, here are two sweet breakfast and dessert ramen recipes.

by: Kristin Bjornsen

(Photo by Genny Fullerton)
Photo by ramen_445x260
(Photo by Genny Fullerton)

If you had to pick the Official Food of Backpackers—the beloved staple that almost all of us consume at some point during our trail travels—it would probably be gorp. But a close second would be ramen (also the official food of college students). Invented by Japan’s Nissin Foods in 1958, instant noodles are tasty, fast, lightweight, calorie-rich, and cheap (ten packets for $1 is not atypical). In fact, when it comes to sheer number of calories per dollar, only a stick of butter beats them. 

The only people who might love ramen more than hikers are the Japanese: In a 2000 poll by the Fuji Research Institute, citizens ranked instant noodles as the No. 1 20th-century Japanese invention—ahead of karaoke (No. 2) and personal stereos (No. 3). Some brands do have questionable ingredients, like the flavoring MSG (it can cause wicked migraines in some people), but groceries now sell all-natural versions, too. But why confine ramen just to dinner? Here are two sweet breakfast and dessert recipes to broaden its culinary horizons.

Cinna-Raisin Breakfast Ramen  
1 package ramen (save the flavor packet for another time)
¼ cup brown sugar (add more or less depending on how sweet you like it)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins
½ cup of walnuts

At home
In a zip-top bag, mix the sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Put the ramen and raisins in another bag.

In camp
Bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil; add the ramen and raisins. Cover, and set aside for five minutes. Drain the water. Stir in sugar mixture. Enjoy!

**Variation: For extra protein, cook the noodles with a beaten egg.

Ramen Haystacks
Recipe from 101 Things to Do With Ramen, by Toni Patrick (Gibbs Smith, 2005)

1 package ramen (any flavor)
2 cups butterscotch chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk (rehydrated powdered milk works too)

In camp
Heat butterscotch, milk, and butter over low heat until chips are completely melted. Crumble in uncooked ramen (save flavor packet for another use); mix. Place spoon-size balls on wax paper or plates; let cool. Dig in.

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
May 03, 2013

I always carry a mixture of dried vegetables (Frozen peas, carrots, green beans, baby limas, broccolli. What ever the market has on sale and that you like). They rehydrate right with cooking the noodles. Also love a little hot sauce or pepper flakes to punch it up.

Nov 21, 2010

Another suggestion for ramen noodles is instead of using the flavor packet,use a can of soup such as cream of celery or cream of mushroom.

Oct 10, 2010

Some people think I crazy, but I like mix chili top Ramen noodles a sort of chili-mac.

Oct 05, 2010

Just ditch the gatoraid, grab some banana chips and use those flavor packs. You need the sodium. Actually those packs have roughly the amount of sodium needed to balance 1L of water loss through sweat. So if you don't carry salt tablets, hydration tabs, or something like Gatorade, you should be eating ramen flavor and all. (based on a sodium content of 1950mg per pack)

dudley ward II
Oct 04, 2010

you would think that the average consumer of ramen can't handle the sodium because of their sedentary lifestyle . but because of a hikers arduous life there shouldn't be too much complaint when it comes to salt .
i didn't know you could do much with ramen . i am going to try the raisin and walnuts recipe because it sounds like meusli ...yummy

john baranowski
Oct 03, 2010

I always throw the flavor packet away. The sodium content of the packet is way too high. I usually throw in a low sodium bullion cube instead.

Oct 02, 2010

Sodium? Sodi-YUMMMM!

Oct 02, 2010

ramen = the most overpriced item at A.T. resupplies. 400% mark up, it's just crazy.

Oct 02, 2010

One of my favorite ramen recipes is salmon pesto. Just add a tablespoon of pesto mix, olive oil, and a foil pack of salmon.

Oct 01, 2010

For health reasons become a label reader.
Sodium, sodium, sodium..... yuck!

Oct 01, 2010

Another suggestion for instant noodles is to ditch the flavor packs altogether. They're mostly salt with a few flavorings. Experiment with making your own seasoning at home from spices you like. When you hit on a combination, write it down so you don't forget and then take that with you. And with packs being around ten to twenty cents, you can do a lot of experimenting before it gets expensive.


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