Over the years, I have eaten many instant noodles.  Although not quite living up to their name, they are nevertheless quite quick to prepare as well as being cheap and, with not too much extra work, quite tasty and reasonably nutritious.

I don’t generally prepare them quite as directed on the packet (which is usually to boil/simmer them for about 5 minutes in water with the contents of the included flavour sachet added).  The simplest change, which I always make, is just to cook them for a bit longer, usually around 10 minutes. This makes them softer and more succulent than they would otherwise be.

The other way I perk up my noodles, which not only improves the taste but also provides a nice lot of variation on the 4 or so basic flavours sold by my local supermarket, is to add various spices and occasionally other ingredients.  This can be as simple as just a dash of extra paprika or whatever else comes to hand when I reach for the spice cupboard.

As an example of a slightly more sophisticated noodle-enhancement, here’s what I did last time I had noodles for dinner, a few days ago.  I started by chopping up a spring onion and lightly frying it (with a small amount of oil) in the saucepan I would be cooking the noodles in.  While it was frying I boiled a kettle and then added boiling water, the chicken seasoning packet (contents) from the noodles, a bit of extra 5-spice powder and a dash of soy sauce to the pan and let it come back to the boil.  I then added the noodles and simmered for about 10 minutes before serving in a nice deep bowl with a generous blob of salad cream in the middle.  It was very tasty for a meal that took less than 15 minutes to prepare.

The reason I mention this now is that I have come up with a new word for the culinary art of transforming instant noodles into fine dinners without too much work: noodlesprucing (so called as you are sprucing up the noodles).  I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to use that term and I suspect it won’t catch on with the general public, but I submit it now as a humble offering towards the enrichment of the English language (as well as a potential inspiration for any budding chefs, especially those on a tight budget).

Despite the name, there’s no reason why noodlesprucing can’t also be applied to other foodstuffs.  The one that springs to my mind is baked beans (especially when served on toast), mainly because I have been doing mildly exciting things with these for longer than I have with noodles.  Again, it usually amounts to cooking them up with random spices; I quite often like to put some cheese on top as well, or to poach an egg in the baked beans.

I shall probably have noodles for dinner again tonight, so I will doubtless engage in a spot more noodlesprucing.  It remains to be seen what inspiration will strike this time, but I look forward to finding out.