Friday, 5 December 2014

How to Fit a Square Meal in a Round Pot

The Different Effect of Eating Instant Noodles Based on Genders. 

To answer the question, well, not very well.

I love instant noodles because it's cheap, very convenient, and quite delicious, especially if you add some other ingredients to it. My favourite toppings are meat balls (fish or beef balls, take your pick. Why not both?), seafood, mushrooms of your choice, fried tofu, and some leafy greens. Kimchi is also great as side dish. Of course, put in any toppings you fancy: pork, beef and fish slices. Bean shoots (aka bean sprouts) is also nice.

Typical toppings for my instant noodles this morning: Chinese mushroom,
pok choy, fried tofu, and a fish ball.

I'm starting to sound like a Korean. I'm not. But nobody eats instant noodles more than the Koreans, and naturally they make the best instant noodles. Ah desu ka? I'm not a Japanese either. Japanese people is also big consumers of instant noodles, second only to Korean. Hence they also made some of the best instant noodles.

This is hardly surprising as these 2 societies are run on speed and efficiency (followed by Hong Kong, and Singapore). In these communities, everything has to be delivered yesterday.

Samyang's U-Dong instant noodles
It has a mild taste and thick chewy noodles that's similar to the udon that you'll
find in most Japanese noodle restaurants

Back in Sydney, my old favorite instant noodle used to be Samyang's U-dong (while the flavour is Japanese, Samyang is actually a Korean food company). After arriving in Singapore, I couldn't find the same Japanese U-dong noodles, and so I had to substitute with something else. That's when I decided to check out the Nongshim's Korean Clay Pot Ramyun (I suppose Ramyun is Korean for ramen).

I later found out a supermarket that stocked my previous fave, but my new find had taken my heart (through my stomach, you know the saying).

Korean Nong Shim's instant noodles
It has a very tasty and fragrant seasoning that has the right level of spiciness for me.
Not too heavy, not too light. Just right.

Here's one example why the Korean instant noodles are so advanced. Look at the convenient round shape. Instant noodles are universally square. This is probably because it's easier to manufacture. Or maybe because the package is square.

Round instant noodle in a pot
In Korea, there's pots that's designed for instant noodles, and it's a
perfect fit for this round noodle brick

The instant noodle eating Koreans want to eat it in a hurry - its most important feature - would eat the noodles in the pot where it's cooked. Why take the fuss of pouring the noodles out into a bowl, and then have an extra bowl to wash? This is how a true instant noodles expert eater would do - eat it straight from the pot. Speed and efficiency is the name of the game. And its first name is "instant".

Why make us trying to fit a square noodle pack into a round hole of a pot? It's just pure culinary awkwardness.

Instant noodles in a pot with different toppings
Throwing in the instant noodle, toppings, and breakfast is
served in a jiffy. Yummy for the tummy...

Instant noodle has a notoriety of being unhealthy. This is annoying for me because I'm a bit of a health freak. I said "a bit" because I don't go overboard with healthy diet. I believe in moderation in all things. That's healthy. Measuring every calorie you eat, that's not so healthy.

Nobody's perfect, and this is my one healthy weakness. When Ada - who's the opposite of me when it comes to health consciousness - told me that I shouldn't eat so much instant noodle because it's a highly processed food with little nutritional values. The pot is calling the kettle black (and this kettle is tarnished silvery).

I always defend myself by saying that instant noodles are just carbs to me. I make it healthy by adding all these healthy toppings.

Because Korean is the greatest eaters of instant noodles, it's no wonder that scientists are studying the effect on Koreans by this national food (another is Spam. Yes, you heard right, Spam. Of course, they would likely put Spam into for their instant noodles).

The scientist had concluded some interesting findings, that women are more prone to health issues than men when it comes to eating instant noodles. You can read one of the online article from Live Science.

Of course, I quickly passed on this scientific tidbits to Ada. Well, her advice to me was right, interestingly more so for her. So she has eaten instant noodles even less after this revelation. Whenever I'm sloshing my instant noodle, she would go, "That smells so good." Who could resist a good instant noodle? I took pity on her, and shared some with her.

Singaporean food manufacturers are health conscious. I'm nuts for peanuts, but I have high cholesterol level while peanuts are high in cholesterol. I discovered their Farmer brand peanuts that are cholesterol free. Actually, I discovered it back in a Chinese grocer store in Sydney. Since this is a Singaporean brand, I have no trouble finding it in Singapore. Indeed, you find them just about in all major supermarkets, and then some.

Koka -  a Singaporean instant noodles maker has the same healthy philosophy and comes up with instant noodles that are free of the bad stuff like trans-fat, preservatives, MSG, and artificial colouring.

I haven't tried it because I'm under the impression that healthy thing is simply less tasty than unhealthy food (we like things that are bad for us, whether they are food, people, or movies). Of course, this is a total prejudice that's based on past experience. Maybe I would try it one day - if it's not for my health - just to get my bias lenses corrected to a more 20/20 vision. Koka should be aware of consumers like me, and tries to win me over with lots of marketing. Hey Koka, send me a free packet and let me try it out.

The scientific news didn't stop me from eating instant noodles. While I eat it frequently, I rarely eat it every day for the whole week. I nearly always have a break from it on the weekend, where I might do continental breakfast or something else. And I always add plenty of natural toppings to it. Besides, without the toppings, I'll get hungry sooner.

Bon appetit ! (or 드세요 !)

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