Out Of Burger Buns? Try Ramen Instead

Ramen — at least, the instant kind — is that quintessential staple of the college and graduate student diet that has nourished and sustained so many of us over the years when times were tough and all we could afford was a packet of $1 noodles boiled over the stove or microwaved in a cup. A dish closely associated with belt tightening and cheap meals, instant ramen eventually developed a sort of cult following.

But in the early 2010s, more elaborate Japanese ramen started to get a global spotlight, thanks to a spate of stories about chefs using ramen on their menus in creative and innovative ways, causing people to trade their soup packets for gourmet meals (via ABC News). Ramen quickly became a trendy food served all over the dining meccas of New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities, with many restaurants and pop-up kitchens dedicated exclusively to the dish, per Nation's Restaurant News. Coinciding with this rise in ramen popularity around 2013 was the emergence of the ramen burger concept, a food mashup that surged on this tidal wave of good publicity.

People have been making ramen burgers for nearly a decade thanks to one chef

Japanese American chef Keizo Shimamoto is credited with introducing the ramen burger to the American public in 2013 at Brooklyn's Smorgasburg food market. He later sold them out of his Sun Noodle stand in New York. As the name implies, pre-packaged ramen noodle patties replace the burger buns employed in a standard burger. Shimamoto hawked a couple different versions of the ramen burger, but his original was an all-beef burger glazed in shoyu (soy) sauce and topped with scallions and arugula, reports New York Daily News.

How does ramen become bread? The cooked noodles can simply be pressed into a flat shape and fried until the exterior becomes slightly golden but the interior remains soft and chewy — this way, they don't break apart (via CNN Travel). If you try it, don't feel badly if it takes you a few tries to get the texture right. Shimamoto acknowledged in an interview with ABC News that he had to experiment with different recipes before he honed his ramen bun technique. He divulged none of his personal secrets though, so some trial and error will be required on your part if you wish to replicate the O.G. ramen burger at home.