We all know and love instant ramen. Cheap, convenient, and tasty, the pre-packaged noodles have saved many a broke college student and harried worker from going hungry for a night—myself included.
But we also know this: Instant ramen isn’t exactly a health food.
A single pack of a popular brand’s chicken-flavored ramen contains nearly 400 calories, 14 grams of fat (including six grams of saturated fat), and 54 grams of carbs. What’s a hungry, time-crunched person with a hankering for noodles to do?
Enter: CookSee Instant Rice Noodle Soup.
Air-Dried, Not Oil-Fried
These Korean-style instant noodles, distributed by South Korea-based company Han’s Korea, are made with soft and chewy Korean rice, and are air-dried, instead of oil-fried like instant ramen. As a result, they’re lower in calories and significantly lower in fat: A pack of the Spicy flavor, for instance, has 320 calories—compare that to instant ramen’s 380—and less than one gram of fat—a huge improvement from 14 grams.
They’re also more easily digestible, making them perfect for those of us with more sensitive stomachs. And as a bonus, they won’t turn rancid as oil-fried ramen noodles will, and thus have an even longer shelf life—so stock up!
My solution newly in hand, I put it to the (taste) test.
CookSee Rice Noodle Soup comes in four flavors of soup: Anchovy (inspired by the anchovy-flavored broth of traditional Korean “banquet noodles,” or janchi-guksu), Spicy Seafood, Hot and Spicy (a mix of anchovy and beef broth), and Kimchi.
I picked up a box of the Kimchi flavor at my local H Mart, a Korean supermarket, for a very digestible price of $2.49. The package sports a cheerful, bright green lid and simple instructions: Open the lid, sprinkle the included seasoning packet over the coils of dry noodles inside, pour boiling water up to the line, and cover and wait three to four minutes for it to cook.
After four minutes, the noodles had slightly swelled and turned from translucent beige to an opaque off-white, and from hard and dry to soft and yielding in the savory broth. Pro tip: Give the noodles a swish with your chopsticks about halfway through, to ensure even cooking, minimal clumping, and maximal enjoyment.
I slurped up my first bite, and was pleasantly surprised: Unlike some other rice noodles I’ve had, which were prone to turning too soft and falling apart in the soup, CookSee’s are perfectly “al dente”—provided, of course, they’re cooked for the suggested amount of time. They strike an ideal balance between soft and tender and pleasantly toothsome and springy.
The kimchi-flavored broth, meanwhile, hits all the right notes of salty, sour, slightly sweet, and spicy. (Spicy food-lovers rejoice: these noodles pack a punch.)
Though the bundle of noodles at first looked deceptively small, they were surprisingly filling. And even after soaking in the broth for an extended period of time, they kept their structural integrity—giving even a notoriously slow eater like myself an experience satisfying to the end.
CookSee Rice Noodle Soup is sold in Korean supermarkets across the U.S., and online via Amazon. 714-403-4993.