Ramen in the U.S. has come a long way. Once known only in its 10-for-a-dollar instant-lunch form—a staple of offices and dorm rooms all around the '80s and '90s—high-end real ramen shops are springing up left and right on both coasts and everywhere in between. As a half-Japanese kid in the '80s, I grew up eating instant ramen at least once a week, and it still holds a special place in my gut. The real stuff is great, but sometimes only the add-hot-water pack will do.Now, once upon a time, Ted and I used to do a lot of hunting up in Oregon, on a patch of land owned by a small corporation that belonged to a number of families who were friends of Dad. Ted and I went there a lot, and hunted and generally traipsed around and did juvenile things. On one trip, Ted had decided to boost his meager income with fur trapping, and set out a few traps for beaver in the stream. The next morning we went to check the traps, and there were no beaver, but there was a pissed off raccoon stuck in one of them. His dog, Spook, a lovely dog with murder in his heart for all things small and furry, attacked it straight away, and killed it before we could do anything, taking unfair advantage of its being stuck in the trap.
That said, my tastes have changed and expanded considerably over the years, and sometimes that little flavoring packet just isn't enough. As such, I've spent a lot of time devising ways to upgrade my ramen in cheap, easy ways. Ghetto gourmet, if you will.
As a card-carrying member of the Ramen Transmogrification Society of Greater New York,* it is my duty, my honor, and my privilege to share with you some of our methods and recipes.
For full, step-by-step instructions on any of these dishes, please click through the slideshow above.
So, what do we do now? Coon pelts weren't worth much, and we hated to waste it, so we skinned it out (I think I might have let Ted do the dirty work, I don't really remember), and took the carcass and skin back to Dad's geodesic dome for lunch. It was my assignment to make lunch, so without further ado, the recipe for:
Take one small dead raccoon (fresh is preferable)
Skin and debone (coon, not dog)
Cut meat into 1 inch cubes, (more or less)
Brown in a skillet, using whatever oil you have available (bacon grease is probably best)
Meanwhile, cook two Ramen Noodle packets
Drain cooked Ramen noodles
Add to browned coon cubes
Add Ramen Noodle seasoning packages, stir
Season to taste with whatever additional spices you can find
Eat. Use a fork if you're concerned about manners.
I tanned the pelt, and it's still floating around in a closet here somewhere, with the holes that Spook put in the pelt with his teeth.