South Korean thriller Parasite from director Bong Joon-Ho made history by being the first foreign language film to win Best Picture at this year's Oscar ceremony! This thrilling, yet often hilarious, tale of class disparities left me gasping for air... and craving noodles! Specifically jjapaguri... a combination of Nongshim's Chapagetti and Neoguri instant noodles, elevated to a higher level with the addition of seared steak.

Setting the Scene: On their drive back from a camping trip, wealthy Mrs. Park calls her poor housekeeper, Mrs. Kim, and requests that she prepare a bowl of “ram-don” for her young son by the time they arrive home. Sounds pretty simple, but what happens next is a frenzy of sizzling steak and searing satire. I won't give away any spoilers of this cinematic masterpiece, but I will walk you through how to make a bowl of these delicious noodles.

The ingredients needed are one package each of Nongshim Chapagetti and Neoguri instant noodles, 6 to 8 ounces of sirloin steak, tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper.

Prepare the sirloin by cutting into 1 inch cubes, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on both sides. Set aside.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add both types of noodles to the boiling water along with the packages of dried flakes from both (do not add the seasoning packets yet) and cook until just-tender.

Strain the noodles, reserving 4 to 5 tablespoons of the starchy water. Return noodles to the pot over low heat and add the Chapagetti seasoning, half of the Neoguri seasoning, and the 4 to 5 tablespoons of reserved noodle water. Stir until the seasonings are well blended and the sauce thickens.

Add the cooked steak to the noodles. Stir and serve!

Simple, savory, complex... make a bowl and watch Parasite tonight!

-David Lynn

Okay... it's 2 o'clock in the morning and you just got home from work or maybe a night on the town (this is a no-judgment zone)! Either way, if you're like me, you just want to slurp up a hot bowl of ramen before tucking in. My cupboard is typically stocked with oodles of noodles, but last time browsing the aisles at Pacific Rim Foods, a particular brand was calling me...

The first thing you'll notice about Itsuki brand ramen is the tall packaging, which includes long, straight dried noodles, powdered soup base and a packet of oil. These noodles were fantastic! I seriously only boiled them for a minute, took them off the heat, stirred in the powdered soup base and poured on the oil. The advantage of the dried noodles was clearly evident... clean taste and texture, as well as fewer calories.

The powdered soup base presented a pleasant surprise... an umami rich, creamy pork bone-style soup accented with soy, miso, scallions and spices! Definitely one of the better instant bases I've tried. After preparing the ramen, I added an over-easy egg, a sprinkling of roasted sesame seeds, a big pinch of scallions, and a dash of chili oil!

Not too bad for only taking 3 minutes to prepare and much more satisfying than just pouring boiling water into a noodle bowl and watching the clock slowly count down for 5 minutes! Itsuki offers several varieties of instant ramens which will definitely cure your late night cravings!

-David Lynn

Look at that picture! Thick chewy yellow noodles slathered in a rich dark brown sauce made with fermented black bean paste, pork belly, zucchini, radish and potatoes. It's a savory, hearty noodle dish that's become a comfort food staple in our house. Originally a Chinese dish made with black bean paste, the Korean version evolved into a quick and easy plate often served in celebration when your child brings home good grades. Could an instant version of this slurping sensation taste as good as your childhood favorite... the short answer is yes! But which is best?

I picked up 3 instant versions... Samyang, Nongshim and Paldo.

The Samyang black bean noodles come with 2 seasoning packets; one containing dried vegetables and the other was the liquid sauce. As with other Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen in their line, these noodles were spicy! Not too hot to eat, as the sauce was slightly sweet, but I feel the heat takes away some of the comfort I wanted. Also, part of the fun of eating jjajangmyeon is crunching into the little cubes of pork belly and veggies. Here the dried ingredients didn't add much to the flavor or texture... and could be omitted altogether. They were good and definitely one of my favorite instants from Samyang, but it didn't satisfy my craving.

The next bowl I made were the Nongshim Chapagetti noodles. To cook... you simply add all of the packaged ingredients together (water, soup base powder, dried vegetables, vegetable oil) with the noodles in a saucepan and boil for a few minutes. After cooking, the dried vegetables are there but not really contributing to the texture of the dish. However, I really liked the flavor... it was deeper and a little more complex than the Samyang version (once again, probably due to the spiciness overtaking the dish).

Lastly, it was time for the Paldo variety. Winner winner, black beans for dinner! These noodles were the easiest to make. Open the provided bowl and remove the one sauce packet. Add boiling water, pour out after a few minutes and pour the sauce over. I enjoyed this bowl the best. The sauce was very rich and fermented (sounds scary, but it's good, trust me) with little bits of chewy vegetables scattered throughout. When you need a quick bowl of Korean black bean noodles with a dense sauce that sticks to the noodles and your ribs, this one hits the spot!

Enjoy this culinary fusion of two cultures!

-David Lynn


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