One of my most prized home decor elements is my instant noodle shelf, its contents displayed just like what you would see in a convenience store. It takes over a whole section of my bookshelf and is always stocked with at least four to five different instant noodles, from spicy Korean ramyun to tart Thai noodles.
It’s hard to pick my favorites, but I always end up reaching for Shin-Ramyun, a brand that for me is attached to nostalgia. Growing up, I could often be found slurping squiggly Shin Ramyun noodles as a treat, with a glass of milk on the side. Whenever the spice hit my throat, I chased it with the cold milk, taming the heat of the savory, flavorful broth.
Pairing dairy with spicy ingredients isn’t unusual for me; it’s a combination that I find exciting. But I recently noticed that my Instagram feed has been flooded with recipes that add milk instead of water to Shin Ramyun, creating an orange broth reminiscent of vodka sauce. Like many milk-based pasta sauces, it thickens slightly as it simmers, beautifully coating the noodles. You end up with a creamy, slightly less spicy sauce that still has plenty of heat and tang.
The delicious flavor profile inspired me to try to create something similar with pasta. Instead of relying solely on Shin Ramyun seasonings, I also used gochujang, tomato paste, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar. Mixing gochujang and tomato paste deepens the color of the sauce, and the gochujang adds extra heat while the tomato paste provides a subtle sweetness, especially when it’s caramelized. The soy sauce contributes another layer of umami, and the acid from the rice wine vinegar keeps the rich sauce balanced.
The sauce also calls for heavy cream and milk, making the final result extra-velvety and glossy. You can use any pasta shape for the recipe, but I find rigatoni to be ideal since its hollow tubes really soak up the sauce. Because the recipe only calls for Shin Ramyun seasonings, you can either break apart the unused noodles and eat them like a snack or sprinkle pieces of them across the pasta as a textural garnish. And, of course, you can forego pasta altogether and use Shin Ramyun noodles instead.
This weeknight-friendly recipe has been in my rotation for weeks now. I’ve been experimenting with different variations by adding proteins like chicken and shrimp, and even chewy rice cakes to make it extra hearty. If you have any Shin Ramyun — or any other spicy Korean ramyun noodles — sitting on your shelf, give it a try. I bet it will end up in your rotation, too.
Shin Ramen Cream Pasta Recipe
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon gochujang
1 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 pack Shin-ramen soup base seasoning (or any types of spicy ramen seasonings)
1 pack Shin-ramen vegetable mix
½ to ¾ cup any cheese, from grated Parmesan cheese to shredded cheddar
8 ounces dry rigatoni, or pasta shape of choice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Furikake for garnish (optional)
Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Step 2: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced onions, cooking until they become translucent, 2-3 minutes. Season the onions with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Add the chopped garlic, tomato paste, and gochujang and continue to cook for another minute. If the tomato paste and gochujang start to stick to the bottom of the pan in places, reduce the heat to prevent burning.
Step 4: Add the milk and heavy cream and bring the sauce to a simmer. Once the liquids bubble up, add the ramen soup seasonings and vegetable mix. Add the cheese and stir to get everything mixed, and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Turn off the heat
Step 5: Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dente. Drain, making sure to reserve a little bit of the pasta water in case you need to thin out the sauce.
Step 6: Drain the pasta, then toss it in the ramen cream sauce with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Continue to stir until the sauce fully coats the pasta. Garnish with the furikake if desired and serve immediately.
Louiie Victa is a chef, recipe developer, food photographer, and stylist living in Las Vegas.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa