Samyang Korean Spicy Ramen Noodle - Results
Here’s a summary of testing and whatnot. Be sure to read the intro blog in this series for this make any sense whatsoever.
|Pic||Flavour||Date Tried||Heat Scale||Overview||Link|
|Jiajan||09/03/2022||7/10||8/10 - Excellent!||Review|
|Stew||10/03/2022||7.5/10||8/10 - really good, nice heat, bit of lip-tingle.||Review|
|Kimchi||11/03/2022||7.5/10||6/10 - very edible, but forgettable||Review|
|Cheese||14/03/2022||6.5/10||6/10 - doable, but slightly dodgy smell||Review|
|Carbonara||15/03/2022||5/10||5/10 - nothing wrong, just a bit bored now.||Review|
I have no idea how the scoring is going to work; chances are it will have to change over time.
In other words, there’s entirely nothing scientific going on here.
So here we go. Other than leaving ‘2xspicy’ until the end, the plan was to go randomly, so I just picked these, which just so happened to be the green packet - aka Jiajan. Whatever the heck that means. Time to get on with it.
Today was the first day of the preparation method, so that meant pretty much making up how to cook them. And after various bouts of blasting it in the microwave, we had a bowl of spicy looking…. worms. The sauce you pour in looks very worrying - it’s a thick, black, muck. Smells a bit like soy but looks horrific. Stirring it in to the ramen helps. A little. Not a lot.
All in we’re talking 8 minutes in the microwave. So now this thing is the equivalent of ignited rocket fuel and the whole dish is ready to set sail for Jupiter. So we wait.
After not waiting long enough, and burning my tongue - several times - I finally got to try them.
And this is the problem. I fear we’re off to a really strong start here because these things are freaking amazing. Immediate slight hit of spice which then builds. But then stays there - at a really nice level. By my standards, reasonably mild, but a really very enjoyable heat, perfectly suitable for a lunch where you don’t want to write-off the rest of the afternoon. I nailed the whole dish as fast as the heat would allow and enjoyed it all. No obvious after effects or after taste.
A ridiculously stong start and so I am now slightly concerned that we may have peaked way too early.
Nothing to speak of.
On the balance of having tried one packet, these are highly recommended. Will be interesting to see if they are knocked off the #1 spot.
Heat Scale: 7/10 Overall: 8/10
Right so we’ve fired straight on to the next packet. Using the well known and scientifically robust method of “entropic selection” of “just grabbing any old packet” from the pile, we ended up with the ‘stew’.
Preparation was the same as yesterday as we find a bit of a routine:
- Boil kettle
- Put ramen in pyrex jug
- Add 600ml boiling water
- Add flakes
- Microwave on medium for 5 mins
- Blast microwave on high for 1 min
- Drain most of the water off
- Add sauce & mix with a spatula
- Blast microwave on high for 1 min
This yields an angry bowl of volcanic smussh.
Possibly marginally less worm-like than yesterday, although not sure why. I assume the
wormicity is mostly dependent on the amount of water in there. The packet of sauce was an equally horrific looking black muck, so current theory is that might be the same each time. We shall see.
Trying to learn from the prior tongue-burning mistakes, I left it to sit for a good few minutes. Then left it again. And a little bit longer.
This still wasn’t long enough which I learnt as hot noodles spilled down my chin like viscous lava. The stylish lockdown beard that I’ve not done anything with yet certainly protected me from losing too much skin.
When I did manage to get stuck in, to begin with they seemed much the same as yesterday’s ‘jiajan’ - but within a few seconds a difference in the style of heat became apparent. Actually expecting these to be milder than yesterday1 (I mean, who has a spicy stew?), the initial tomato-y taste is a red herring - these are definitely hotter but it’s a more bitter heat. It’s similar to the difference between say a jalfrezi sauce and a madras of vindaloo sauce, where the latter take on a more
gravy like persuasion with a heat that hits you on the back of the tongue and makes you dribble.
There’s no doubt about it; these are hotter as evidenced by a nice little patch of nose-sweat. At this point I’m not sure where the spice and heat comes from - whether it’s the flake-mix or the sauce; my assumption currently is the former, as in this case there was definitely a lot more flavouring in the packet, and more powder-y, compared with yesterday’s chunkier mix.
The heat definitely lingers on longer with this packet, but in a very pleasant way.
Definitely some gaseous build-up, but not noxious. No sting, though.
At this point, I’ve still got no real frame of reference for heat but these were definitely hotter and longer-lasting heat than yesterday, so awarding it an 8 for now. Overall, a very enjoyable bowl of noodles but juuuust nudging towards that point that you might not smash it everyday.
Heat Scale: 8/10 Overall: 8/10
Today: Buldak Kimchi. So after yesterday’s heat mix-up (where it ended up being a lot hotter than expected) a closer inspection of today’s packet….
… a sort of happy looking lady chicken2, made me think that these should be milder! AND, they were, but only went to prove that me vaguely trying to remember relative heats was not particularly accurate. So 8 seconds of Googling clued me in to the fact that taste-testing-and-heat-reviewing ramen noodles - even these packets, was absolutely not a new thing. In fact, people have been doing it for yeeeeeearrs. The Ramen Rate has a pretty comprehensive guide to the Samyang noodles and including.. yep, heat scales measured in Scoville.
So this achieves a few things. For starters, it confirms why yesterday felt considerably hotter than before; put simply because it was - with my original packet at just 1920 scoville vs 4705 for the stew type!
It also confirmed my suspicions - when I get to the ‘2xSpicy’ - I’ve got around 8.8k to look forward to. Oooh. However, it didn’t confirm why the jinjian felt hotter (or conversely the stew didn’t feel considerably hotter.)
So there you go. With the revelation that this has all been done before, they’ve all been reviewed before, obviously I should stop, right? Ha, no.
I prepared this packet - the kimchi style. (Which, oddly, didn’t appear in that comprehensive guide! Not very comprehensive…)
A word on the sachet of liquid - or ’liquid soup’.
It seems to always arrive in the red packet and the consistency as it it’s poured is usually the same - it’s a thick black tar-like muck. This however definitely appears to be the source of the heat as the flake-broth-mix is definitely just some precursory flavour, it seems. And the consistency and colour of today’s packet was a lot less angry than yesterday…
But after the rest of the prep method, we were ready:
Much less radioactive than previous days.
Managed to hold out for longer this time and successfully did not burn mouth. Good start. Heat-wise these are closer to the ‘stew’ than the ‘jianjang’ (unsurprisingly, given what we now know about the scovilles). Easy to eat, and went down like a milder ‘stew’ but with a more tomatoe-y texture with even some remnants of onion - so had a kind of jalfrezi vibe to it.
The heat dissipated a lot quicker and based on nothing other than gut feel (no pun intended) these are very tasty, but my least favourite so far. (Assuming of course I’m not just getting noodle-fatigue.)
Heat Scale: 7.5/10 Overall: 6/10
Nice, but fairly forgettable.
So after the fun of last week, it did feel like we were entering a dull phase as we head towards the big finale. Having no ramen over the weekend and was faced with either:
and none of them particularly enthused me. So for no particular reason we’ve gone with cheese.
That Cheesey Chicken on the packet does look pretty happy.
Preparation was the same as usual although this time I didn’t drain quite so much water off. I thought this could be a problem, but equally I don’t much like the idea of just pouring away the flavour from the broth.
(I am an inexperienced ramen-ator… as you can tell.)
Nevertheless, continued as usual; the liquid soup was characteristically mucky but the resulting noodles were not too angry.
Before we talk about taste, we need to cover an issue with these: the smell. They do not smell good. It is that sort of freeze-dried long-life powdered-cheesey-milk smell which is not great. A bit like baby formula if you’ve had the joy or misfortune of dealing with that. My expectations were already pretty low so to add a cheese-stink in to the mix didn’t help things particularly.
But hey, there’s a job to be done here and it was time to double-down.
All in all, it was perfectly fine. Nice level of medium heat, a small amount of after-tingle. Perfectly passable and acceptable.
(I’m almost certainly getting noodle fatigue here.)
The unexpected benefit was a bit of spicy soup left at the bottom of the bowl which came about as a result of not draining more water off. This had the feel and look of a nice chilli sauce - a fiery red liquid but with the consistency of a sort of thai soup. Interesting.
So we’re chugging on. These were ‘fine’. I’m beginning to think I have no actual idea what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ here. These were nice noodles but forgettable, and feel like I need to dock some points - arbitrarily, mostly - for the dodgy cheese smell.
Heat Scale: 6.5/10 Overall: 6/10
Quite bored now. So here we are with ‘carbo’. Not sure why the Chicken on the packet appears to be bathing in the pot.
Still have literally no idea what I’m expecting. The pink packet was fun, though. The ‘flakes’ were a generous powder, of some type. When added to boiling water it looked a lot like the water in the washing machine before it goes out the drain. A sort of grey-ish tinge.
Noodle fatigue confirmed. Plus I was really hungry and really busy which didn’t help with the impatience of having to wait for them to cool down.
Nothing surprising here. No real heat, but still perfectly edible. Albeit a bit dull, now. Which is virtually nothing to do with the ramen, I’m quite sure.
We now just have the ’light’ ones to go before it’s the big finale of the 2xSpicy.
These were ‘fine’. Nothing more, nothing less.
Heat Scale: 5/10 Overall: 5/10
OK here it is. After taking a quick break for bout of Covid, it was time to go big. I’ve left the ’light’ variant in the cupboard for now… perhaps think about those when I feel like I need to be a bit healthier.
So here it is: 2x Spicy.
I had obviously bigged this one up - not only on the blog, but in my head. In fact this whole ridiculous escapade was predicated upon this potentially tearing me a new ringpiece that would ultimately need surgery. I was expecting something so inedibly hot that I’d need to a slap from Will Smith just to bring me back to life.
Ironically - they simultaneously disappointed, and didn’t. I allowed extra care making them - assuming I was likely to be handling something so radioactive that I should really be wearing a hasmat, I took care to make sure I didn’t rub anything I didn’t want to be rubbing with potentially spicy fingers. The packet of powder looked quite menacing.
Despite following the usual method, the prepared ramen didn’t look half as angry as I was expecting. I was, I think, expecting something that wouldn’t have been out of place in Ghostbusters - or worse - a snarling, slimey, barking bowl of rage but in reality, they looked pretty normal. Perhaps a sleeper bowl of heat?
With them being named ‘2x spicy’ I had wondered quite what this means… 2x hotter than something? And on what scale? Logarithmic? Exponential? Or a straight-forward linear scale like the Scoville. Well, my assumption is Scoville, because whilst there were definitely the hottest of the lot, the overall affect was mildly spicy at best… in the grand scheme of things. Very edible and definitely a good tingle - potential for a slight hiccup if eaten too quickly - but on the whole just a reasonably spicy bowl of ramen. Somewhere approaching a decent Thai soup probably.
These were not the things that were going to destroy me. These were not the ones from the original experience.
Good ramen, and enough heat to keep you interested. These are not a ring-stinger if that’s what you were hoping for. Probably just hot enough to not want them too often and might instead resort to the JiaJan as the everyday noodle; with a Stew thrown in from time to time.
Heat Scale: 8/10 Overall: 6/10
Don’t ask me why but these diet ramen, I mean “light” ramen sounded the least appetising to me. I don’t know why and on balance anything that is fewer calories but for something like the same taste or nutritional benefit should be a good thing. Given that I’m in this for the spice, the fact the front of the packet says “40% less spicy” made me wonder if there would be any flavour or heat at all.
Prepared in the usual way.
Pretty good. Just a hint of spice, but enough to keep things interesting. I want to think maybe they don’t taste as good as the full fat equivalents, but that is probably placebo… no way I could tell a difference if doing a blind taste test. The only complaint I can make is a grammatical one - ’less spicy’ is OK… but it should be ‘fewer’ calories.
So on the whole, if these taste about as good as any of the others and they’re half the calories, then that sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Heat Scale: 5/10 Overall: 6/10
So that ends this ramen challenge. Have I learnt anything? Erm, no, not really. As a quick meal go, these are super convenient. Would I want to buy the “light” over the others- ideologically, no, but as a go-to they probably make sense. I htink the JiaJan or the Stew came out on top for overall experience. Will definitely eat these again in the future… but the hunt for the ultimate spice continues.
Looking at the packet again, I have no idea why I thought these might be milder. I thought “stew = mild”. But it’s covered in flames, and the ramen-eating chicken with the stylish centre-parting is sweating! They might possibly say “don’t judge a ramen by its packet” but I’m wondering if this exactly how you should approach it. ↩︎
Not sure if she is only wearing 1 sock, or whether that’s a bandage? Maybe a sprained-ankle? Hope Lady Chicken lady recovers. ↩︎