One of my most treasured home decor items is my instant noodle rack, its contents displayed exactly as you would see in a convenience store. It takes up an entire section of my library and always contains at least four to five different instant noodles, from spicy Korean ramyun to tangy Thai noodles.
It’s hard to pick my favorites, but I always end up turning to Shin-Ramyun, a brand that for me is attached to nostalgia. Growing up, I could often be found sipping wavy Shin Ramyun noodles as a treat, with a glass of milk on the side. Whenever the spice hit my throat, I chased it away with the cold milk, taming the heat of the tasty and savory broth.
Pairing dairy products with spicy ingredients is not unusual for me; it’s a combination that I find exciting. But I recently noticed that my Instagram feed has been inundated with recipes that add milk instead of water to Shin Ramyun, creating an orange broth reminiscent of vodka sauce. Like many milk-based pasta sauces, it thickens slightly when simmering, coating the noodles nicely. You end up with a creamy, slightly less spicy sauce that still has a lot of spice and heat.
The delicious flavor profile inspired me to try and create something similar with pasta. Instead of relying only on Shin Ramyun seasonings, I also used gochujang, tomato paste, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. The mixture of gochujang and tomato paste deepens the color of the sauce, and the gochujang adds extra heat while the tomato paste provides a subtle sweetness, especially when caramelized. The soy sauce provides another layer of umami, and the acidity of the rice wine vinegar maintains the balance of the rich sauce.
The sauce also calls for heavy cream and milk, which makes the end result extra velvety and shiny. You can use any shape of pasta for the recipe, but I find rigatoni to be ideal because its hollow tubes really soak up the sauce. Since the recipe only calls for Shin Ramyun seasonings, you can either separate the unused noodles and eat them as a snack, or sprinkle chunks of them over the pasta as a textured topping. And, of course, you can forgo the pasta altogether and use the Shin Ramyun noodles instead.
This weeknight friendly recipe has been in my rotation for weeks now. I experimented with different variations adding protein like chicken and shrimp, and even chewy rice cakes to make it even more filling. If you’ve got Shin Ramyun – or any other spicy Korean ramyun noodle – sitting on your shelf, give it a try. I bet that will end up in your rotation as well.
Shin Ramen Creamy Pasta Recipe
For 3-4 people
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon of gochujang
1 cup of milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 packet Shin-ramen soup base seasoning (or any type of spicy ramen seasoning)
1 packet Shin-ramen vegetable mix
½ to ¾ cup cheese, grated Parmesan cheese and grated cheddar cheese
8 ounces of dry rigatoni, or your choice of pasta shape
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
Furikake for garnish (optional)
Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2nd step: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and add the chopped onions, cook until they become translucent, 2-3 minutes. Season the onions with S&P.
Step 3: Add the chopped garlic, tomato paste and gochujang and cook for another minute. If the tomato paste and gochujang start to stick to the bottom of the pan in places, reduce the heat to avoid burning.
Step 4: Add the milk and heavy cream and bring the sauce to a boil. Once the liquids are bubbling, add the ramen soup seasoning and the vegetable mixture. Add the cheese and stir until combined, and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Cut the fire
Step 5: Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain, making sure to reserve a little cooking water in case you need to thin the sauce.
Step 6: Drain the pasta, then toss it in the ramen cream sauce with the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Keep stirring until the sauce completely coats the pasta. Garnish with the furikake if desired and serve immediately.
Louis Victa is a Las Vegas-based chef, recipe developer, food photographer and stylist.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa