2009-03-03

Wang "Rice Noodle: Anchovy Flavor"

Brand: Wang
Flavour: Rice Noodle: Anchovy Flavor
Format: cardboard bowl
Packets: two
Identifiables: noodle filaments, soup base, brick of dried stuff
Sodium: 0.82 grams

I bet you forgot about me, didn't you?

You know, I felt bad over the last month that I just hadn't had the chance to do a proper review. It seems like I was doing them nearly every day, and then suddenly there were a lot of great leftovers in the fridge and I wasn't falling back on ramen. Then, I remembered that I have a higher calling, a mission, a real purpose. Mine is to bring the true, real, raw world of instant noodles to the rest of you fine people that you may vicariously experience the joys and sorrows and sheer bloody terror of this incredible medium for culinary artistry. (I also remembered that I'd left one of the bowls from the previous batch untouched, and I'd better get that out of the way before I started the next one.)

I had second thoughts when I looked at the package. Rice Noodle... Anchovy Flavor.

Now, I like anchovies. I frequently order pizzas with anchovies, I like anchovy in Caesar salad (blended with the dressing or bits added after), and anchovies are a fine way to add depth to the flavour of all sorts of dishes. Those anchovies, however, are either a paste or filets packed in liquid of some form. I knew that these would have to be dried, and as we all know, strange things happen to dried meats and fishes. I opened the package hesitantly, but filled with the same sort of eager but morbid curiosity I had when watching the Care Bears movies again recently. (As a note, the verdict is: Care Bears Movie II, fairly decent and watchable, but the first film... something went wrong in ways I can't quite explain.)

As the water slowly came to a boil, I stared apprehensively at the brick which came out of the "flake" packet. It seemed to be a lightly pressed block of suop base and vegetables and... yes, you can clearly see them, dried anchovies. The smell wasn't bad, but it definitely caused me to stop and think about just how far I'd come from thinking that the dried shrimp in Cup Noodles were something unusual. Had I perhaps gone too far? Might I have ended up out of touch with the common people's ramen and found myself perched in some ivory noodle tower? I poured boiling water over the soup block and the loose, translucent noodles and considered for two very long minutes whether I was on the right path.

When I opened the bowl, I was greeted by a rather standard-looking mass of cooked noodles in fairly clear brownish broth, and several things which appeared to be waterlogged twigs. I realised that these were reconstituted anchovies. I allowed my sense of duty to overcome my fear, and set my chopsticke to pucking up a goodly mix of noodle, carrot strip, and anchovy.

It turns out that the flavour of this bowl is rather well balanced. Despite the reputation of anchovies for being exceedingly salty, it seemed no saltier than any other ramen I've had and in fact less so. (The numbers back this up.) There was a bit of that rich, fishy flavour, but it didn't overpower the seaweed-and-mushroom-and-veggie component of the dish, and overall the broth isn't all that strong. The noodles are rather fine, which takes getting used to after so many bowls with rather thick noodles, but the effect works.

This just goes to show that sometimes our fear is misplaced. What seems scary – anchovy ramen! – can be decent, and what seems harmless, like cheese ramen.... All right, that was a poor example.

Numbers: packaging 4, preparation 4, heat 3, flavour 3, overall 3
Music: Hideyuki Fukasawa - Street Fighter IV (ARC) - Africa Stage

2 comments:

PatGund@gmail.com said...

Twich. Shudder...... I'll take your word for it.

BTW, I found a whole mess of new SE ramen down at a very cool store in Portland, along with a square ramen pot. Should I get some of the packages for care package #2??

Jessie Tracer / Electric Keet said...

PatGund:
I appreciate the thought, but I've already got a mass of ramen for Round Three... larger than any previous. I'm up to my ears in this daunting pile of ramen. When I start whittling that down significantly, I'll let you know.