Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

My Photo
Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Apr 7, 2019

Fast to Cook, Good to Eat

The commentary in Channel News Asia on "How instant noodles became symbol of workaholics", published on 6 April, 2019 here  inspired me to post on this blog to share.

Seventy years ago when I was born in Bukit Ho Swee kampong, there was no instant food, no instant milk powder or fast food to make me grow up fast.

Mothers during that era would have to patiently take time to prepare the condensed milk to feed the babies.  Because my mother did not breast-feed me as a baby, I grew up on "Lifeguard" condensed milk whenever I was hungry.

Children would be fed porridge, not instant noodles to save time.

More Mee for Me

I found an article in the Straits Times on 5 March 1997 with the headline "S'poreans slurping instant noodles by the millions" to share on this blog:

Student Chin Shou King, 17, loves it.

"I know eating too much to it is not very good for my health and the soup base can be salty," he said.  Still, he slurps at least a packet of instant noodles a week.  He is not the only one.

Singaporeans are fans of instant mee, gobbling up almost 6 million kg of this three-minute meal a year, worth more than $30 million, according to Mr Gareth Ellis, director of retail services of Survey Research Singapore (SRS).

Countries elsewhere consume more.  Manufacturer Nissin has estimated that China consumed 12 billion packages of instant noodle in 1995, Indonesia 6 billion, Japan 5.2 billion, South Korea 3.55 billion, the United States 2 billion and Thailand 1.5 billion packages.

In the past, the noodles were available with only one flavour, chicken, but today there are many varieties such as abalone, sesame, tom yam, Sichuan, mee poh sambal and even Xiamen chicken.
Instant noodles today come in packets and Styrofoam cups or bowls.  The market for cup noodles appears to be growing at a faster rate than that of the packet version, no doubt because of its convenience - just peel the cover, add the freeze-dried ingredients and pour boiling water.

With the advent of cup noodles, people have been seen buying a few cartons to store in their office drawers.  "If they do not go out for lunch, they can easily eat them in the office by adding hot water."

Students are big eaters of instant mee.  Said Aw Shiao Yin, 19 "When I'm busy, instant noodles comes in handy as a quick meal."

But some parents feel that with so much flavouring in the soup base, children should steer clear of them.  Said housewife Liu Ah Siew, 39, who has three daughters:  "I wouldn't want my children to eat too much."

Top 10 best instant noodles, courtesy of Food King Singapore on YouTube here .

Instant noodles for astronauts

In an AFP article in 2002, Japanese snack noodles hope to dump their junk food status and soar to the higher gastronomical rank of space cuisine.

Nissin Food Products Company said it would work with the National Space Development Agency of Japan (Nasda) to develop instant ramen noodles for astronauts participate at the International Space Station project.

"It has been the wish of the founder of our company, who invented instant ramen noodles some 44 years ago, to develop space food instant ramen," said Mr Shinichi Kuwata, a spokesman for Nissin, best known for its cup noodles.

Nasda needed nutritious, tasty and familiar food for Japanese astronauts as the space station project would require them to stay in space for several months at a time.

"Japanese astronauts who have already been to space have told us they wanted to eat ramen noodles.  With Nissin proposing to develop space food ramen, we decided to conduct a feasibility study for noodle eating in space."
Astronauts must be able to consume the noodles without slopping strands or spilling drops of soup on their clothes or equipment.

People eat noodles by picking up strands with chopsticks and sucking them into the mouth from the cups of soup.  "But we cannot do that in space because the soup might spill and damage the equipment.  We have a prototype for the space instant noodles, but we still have a lot to do to develop appropriate packages.   The proposed space noodles must also pass taste tests by astronauts from other participating countries, such as the United States and Russia.

Space Ram, a special instant noodle product developed for Japanese Astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The noodle broth is thicker than normal to stop the noodles floating off in zero gravity.The Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda, near the Japanese city of Osaka, has welcomed some 2 million visitors over the years. .

Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama

Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama to capture story behind one of the world's greatest inventions.

Although it has been more than half a century since instant noodles were first created in Japan, the Japanese are still getting their chopsticks out for what is arguably one of the world's greatest inventions.

New varieties hit store shelves every month.

And in the ultimate show of the importance of instant noodles to Japanese culture, the Cup Noodle Museum opened in Yokohama, south-west of Tokyo, paying tribute to the man behind it all.

In 1958, the late Mr Momofuku Ando, a Taiwanese-Japanese businessman, invented instant noodles amid a campaign by the government to get the Japanese to consume more wheat sent by the United States, to alleviate the post-war food shortage.

In 1971, Mr Ando came up with yet another idea - the packaging of instant noodles in disposable polystyrene containers, which have become a particular favorite with people looking for a convenient meal.

The inspiration came during a trip to the US, where he watched a supermarket worker break up a packet of instant noodles into a cup and pour hot water over it.

The result was Cup Noodles, now a registered trademark of Nissin Foods, the company he founded.  By making instant noodles even more instant, its popularity has been boosted further - beyond the Earth, even.

In 2005, Mr Ando developed a space-friendly version that allowed astronauts to tuck into a bowl of noodles with a fork instead of sucking them through a tube , as they do with other types of space foods.

All the milestones are captured in the Cup Noodle Museum, which not only features the history of the ubiquitous product, but also invite visitors to get a literal taste of Mr Ando's invention.

Here, children and their parents can have a go at making their own instant noodles from flour, customising them with their choices of toppings and even designs for the disposable polystyrene cups.  Visitors can also dine on noodle dishes from around the world, from Vietnamese Pho to Malaysian Laksa.

Too much attention on a simple cup of noodles?  Hardly.

Mr Ando's creation has not only been described as the most important Japanese food development of the century, but it has also conquered the entire planet.

Every year, some 95 billion servings are produced round the world - 13 for every person - and the number is still growing.

The average Japanese eats 41 packets a year, or one every nine days.  Put together, that's a 5.25 billion servings eaten annually in this country.

Company worker Jun Kaneko is one of those people who cannot go without it for long.  "In the summer, I often eat instant fried noodles.  But in the winter, I want to warm up my body, so I eat instant kitsune (fried beancurd skin) udon in soup," he says.

The range of instant noodles that Mr Kaneko can choose from reflects how far the product has come.

In 1958, Mr Ando started out with one flavour - Chicken Ramen - which is still a perennial favorite.

The Cup Noodle Museum showcases the more than 3,000 varieties produced over the years in Japan alone.

In 1976, Nissin came up with instant versions of traditional noodles, such as the Donbei series of instant soba and udon, with slight variations catering to the local taste buds of different regions.

That means instant noodle fans can turn trips across Japan into a culinary exercise.

Musician M. Tomikawa says:  "Whenever I go on tour around the country, I always look forward to eating the local instant noodles to see what's different.

"On my last trip to Kyushu, the local Donbei noodles turned out to be a great surprise."

Meanwhile, hot on the heels of the huge ramen boom in recent years, there has been a rush to create new varieties of instant noodles that faithfully mimic popular regional ramen flavors.

Now, ramen fans can choose from the soya sauce and miso (bean paste) flavors common in northern Japan to pork booth varieties preferred in the south.

And for those who still think instant noodles is just snack, think again.

A restaurant in Tokyo's Nakano ward serves nothing but instant noodles, and offers a menu that includes foreign varieties.  Here, you can choose from no fewer that 200 varieties of instant noodles, from the well-known Kitakata of north-eastern Japan to even fiery hot noodles from South Korea.

And, of course, you won't have to wait long for your meal, which comes with toppings such as vegetables, meat and a soft-boiled egg.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home