What is a Ramen Challenge?
A ramen challenge is when you create something unique and delicious with a plain ole package of ramen noodles.
We used this concept with our high school culinary students and it got spicy and exciting!
The Objective of a Ramen Challenge for Students
The objectives of this ramen challenge were to give students the life skills to create a dish that they could make for themselves. It was also to give them confidence in the kitchen and have them think outside the box with cooking.
It’s a great way for you to see what students’ skills are in the kitchen. It was almost a pretest to gauge where students were with cooking and personality.
Setting up the Ramen Challenge
- Lay out a bunch of vegetables and ingredients such as herbs, sauces like soy sauce, etc. on a prep table to help spark some ideas. This is also a nice way to have your students practice knife skills.
- Pass out one package of ramen to each kid or pair of kids. Grab the cheap stuff!
Tell them they have 2 days to “jazz” up their ramen bowl. They had to use at least 3 extra ingredients that required a cooking method. Other ingredient ideas include:
- fresh herbs
- sesame oil
- sesame seeds
- basically anything you have laying around the kitchen
- Day 1– Mise en place (check out our mise en place blog post) and explore the possibilities of what they could make. They plan and cook their vegetables. Some of them put it together on day one and the others on day two. This all depends on the size of your kitchen and the availability of equipment, etc.
- Day 2– Finalize their ramen. Those that didn’t cook will cook, those that finished helped in the kitchen and cleaned. If you have individual cook stations like we do, you don’t need to rotate like this.
One of our students made a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast ramen. Some made Ajitsuke Tamago-style ramen (with a soft-boiled egg on top). My favorite was a group that made a variation of this recipe.
Why they Loved the Ramen Challenge!
The students really loved this. First, because they got to eat their ramen creations, and second because they had free reign in the kitchen and felt a sense of independence. It was also a “soft” competition because I tasted the ramen in little portions and gave them feedback. If you want to grade the students on this here is a free lab rubric (below). They were begging for more challenges like this one, so we are working on a Mac and Cheese Challenge!
If you are looking for more Prostart project ideas and culinary arts ideas check out our chili cook-off blog post. We feel lucky to be able to teach cooking and foods because we have the opportunity to provide project-based learning (PBL) for our students. We know that the research supports this type of learning. These type of projects make great observation lessons as well.
Need More Ramen Inspiration?
This is a fun video by Bon Appetit, the popular cooking magazine and website to fill some time in class and give students some ideas. They are a bit more sophisticated as they are professional chefs but it is fun to watch them work!