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Students take a college food staple and make it their own

A bowl of ramen sits on a surface on Nov. 5 at Campus Habitat Apartments.

For many students, ramen is a classic college essential. Pre-packaged ramen offers a variety of flavors like chicken, beef, shrimp, among others. For most, these flavors are good enough by themselves. However, some students go a step further to spice up their microwaveable meals. 

Detroit sophomore Victoria Spencer began altering ramen her freshman year of college. 

“Freshman year I kind of got bored and hungry and I needed something else. I was messing around in the kitchen and had leftover chicken in one dish and (thought), ‘Huh, I wonder what happens if I put this in it?’ and it worked out,” Spencer said. 

Spencer said she makes many different meals with the noodles. However, her favorite meal she makes is what she calls "Stir Fry Ramen." 

Spencer said she chops up green, yellow and Jalapeno peppers, sautes them on the stove with lemon peppers, curry and paprika and then adds shrimp and soy sauce. She cooks the ramen on the side and once it's done cooking, she throws both together and eats it.

Chicago senior Timothy Griffin said the ramen meals he makes involve less steps. 

“I like to add broccoli and cauliflower to mine and carrots. Or I’ll throw in a pack of tuna," Griffin said. "I like adding shrimp, (but) all this not at once. Mainly just the shrimp and the veggies and probably some kale,” Griffin said. 

Griffin started elevating his ramen when he was taught by his father as a child. The ingredients he started adding were minor but have led to the dishes he makes today. 

“(At first) I would put some cheese or butter or hot sauce for starters and then I would put taco meat in to amp it up and make it an entire meal and not a snack,” Griffin said. 

Both students say they use the seasoning packets provided in pre-packaged ramen. However, they also stray away from the beef-flavored seasoning packets.

“I use the seasoning packet if I use the shrimp noodles or the chicken," Spencer said. "If I use the beef seasoning, (I use) half because I already naturally season the other foods with salt, so I don’t really need it that much.” 

Spencer said she was even gifted a book that helps elevate ramen and claims the book has all types of recipes. She said the book includes baking frying, soup and dessert options.

For some students like Clinton freshman Faith Ford, spicing up a ramen recipe is something she wants to try, but isn't sure where to begin.

“I have always been interested in the idea of making my (ramen) something more. Maybe adding chicken or something in the mix, but I’m not exactly sure how or what to do,” Ford said. 

Spencer said if someone is interested in elevating their noodles, they should start off slow. 

“Ramen can go practically with anything," Spencer said. "So, if you’re afraid to (put) something in the noodles, then put it on the side. Make it a side dish or a main course like you would with a pasta. See how you like it separately and then slowly work your way into mixing it together."