• Laad naa (charred rice noodles in thick gravy) (SBS Food)Source: SBS Food
Instant noodles are delicious, but no one said that you had to be restricted by the flavours in the packet! Here's some inspiration to soup up the humble instant noodle.
27 May 2019 - 2:30 PM  UPDATED 27 May 2019 - 2:30 PM

Assam Laksa

Asam laksa

Okay, making this authentically involves making the soup from scratch and simmering it for hours. But in the spirit of instant noodles, we suggest this cheat: use a store-bought laksa paste, and infuse the soup with sliced galangal and red Asian shallots. Then stir through tamarind and sugar to taste, add flake in some cooked white fish. 

Laad naa (charred rice noodles in thick gravy)

Laad naa (charred rice noodles in thick gravy)

A creature comfort dish of smoky wok-charred chewy rice noodles in yellow bean gravy. It's one of Thai guru David Thompson's late-night go-to dishes and this recipe is inspired by his. It may take 15 minutes, but it's worth making the sauce and tossing through your favourite cooked and drained noodles for an instant upgrade! 

Sichuan pork and noodle soup

This recipe takes its cues from the legendarily spicy cuisine of Chongqing, in China’s Sichuan province. There, the local tolerance for chilli eating is off-the-charts and the theory runs that this has developed to counteract the effects of the regions’ damp climate. If you're in a hurry, just add some Sichuan chilli bean paste to your instant noodles as it's cooking, and watch as the flavour gets bumped to 100! 

Fish-paste noodles (surimi-men)

While these noodles are actually made from fish paste, it's just as easy to blitz up the paste mixture, and drop little dumplings into your instant noodle soup as it's cooking, adding both flavour and lean protein! Win-Win. 

Pork belly udon soup

You can ditch the packet of instant noodle flavour mix and still have plenty of flavour! The dashi stock is a snap to make, and just the simple addition of seaweed and bonito flakes will add an extra layer of umami to a stock standard instant noodle. Season with some soy, top with some egg, cooked pork and blanched veggies, and instant noodles don't have to be a guilty pleasure any longer. 

Prawn noodle soup (Penang hokkien mee)

Also known as har mee, this hawker classic uses prawn shells and heads to develop its signature, full-flavoured broth. Do as the locals do and save shells and heads used for cooking other dishes in the freezer until you have enough – the more, the better the broth. Too lazy to simmer a broth for hours? Us too! Here's our cheat's inspiration: use prawn stock or drop some prawn heads whilst cooking your noodles, and upgrade a late night bowl to an absolute treat! 

Home-style tomato noodle soup (sopa de fideo de mi casa)

Tomato, onion and coriander are at the core of this simple recipe, and it's a speedy way to inject some fresh flavour into your noodles. We've served this simple yet popular Mexican noodle soup with grated cheese, but you can add some freshly squeezed lime juice to it.

Coconut sauce noodles (ohn-no khaut swei)

Chicken poached in broth with noodles is a marriage made in heaven and this classic Burmese dish of coconut sauce noodles elevates the simple to the sublime. So you can always have some on hand, make the broth ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 months, then bring back to a simmer before using. To make the quick cheat's version, infuse a store-bought chicken stock with ginger, garlic, eschallots and fish stock. 

Hawaiian noodle soup (saimin)

This dish combines the best of Hawaii’s Japanese, Chinese and Filipino influences. Usually a fast food, this noodle soup also allows for invention – add and remove ingredients as you please. The only two essentials are noodles and sticky barbecued Chinese pork. If there was a dish more suitable for instant noodle upgrades we haven't seen one: take the base broth, add your noodles, and top with as much fish cakes, eggs and store-bought barbecued pork as you please! 

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