After a few months of hoarding and grudging abstinence, I finally broke down and made myself the last remaining package of some awesome noodles I trucked back from New Zealand in my suitcase.
I was first introduced to this soooo-much-better-than-the-ramen-you-remember-from-college product by my tiny Indonesian “auntie” Ati, wife of my Wellington-dwelling relative Jonathan, when I was staying with them over the winter holidays. I must have returned from some late-evening exploration or other because I recall I was hanging out with Ati in the kitchen chatting when she asked me if I was hungry. Ati is an amazing cook and, in the time-honored habit of culinarily well-endowed moms everywhere, is charmingly prone to fussing over and feeding one. I was powerless to resist this generous approach, but I was skeptical as hell when she rummaged in their storage cabinet and emerged brandishing a rectangular package at me. My dubiousness must have shown because she waved more emphatically and said, “Very good – is Indonesian!”
“Ah, okay,” I acquiesced hesitantly. Who am I to turn down a cultural gastronomic experience? She whipped a pot of water onto the stove and set it to boiling, and just a few minutes later I had placed ceremoniously before me a bowl of steaming noodles and a tiny jar of her special recipe chile sauce (which is as mind-bogglingly delicious as it is tongue-searing… she and I ate tons of it on any available edible surface while I was there).
I wound up a forkful and jammed it into my mouth and was astonished to find she was right – “very good” was entirely too mild a description – it was not too salty, not too hot, the noodles toothsome: a perfectly calibrated balance of lightly oily, rib-sticking yumminess that left a glowing path in its wake.
Jonathan sniffed his way into the kitchen not long after I started noodle-scarfing in earnest and volunteered hopefully, “I wouldn’t mind a snack either…” Ati shook her head and inclined it at my bowl, saying “Last one.” Deflated, he slumped back towards the living room.
During my next grocery run at Pak’n’Save I examined the towering aisles for more of this quick-cooking deliciousness and bought a cellophane-wrapped set of eight, toting the unconsumed remainder back in my duffel bag, a process I repeated during my next visit to see Gar in April (they had the virtue of being both light and unlikely to explode all over my clothes from the pressure changes of air travel). Also, unlike my beloved Wattie’s, I have found Indo Mie products to be available in the States, at least via bulk purchase on Amazon (to which I will happily resort if my next investigatory mission to the local Asian superstores proves fruitless – though that’ll undoubtedly be without the cute if incomprehensible NZ nutrition information).
The noodles come with small separate packets of (in order in the photo below) kecap / soy sauce, sambal / chili sauce, minyak bumbu / seasoning oil, bawang goreng / fried onions, and seasoning powder.
After cooking the noodles in boiling water for three minutes and draining them thoroughly, you apply the condiments…
….stir, and eat!
Okay, maybe it’s not the most appetizing-looking final product (ye of little faith) but it also makes a great blank canvas for other, more picturesque additions – I’ve made it with greens, diced tomatoes, scallions, a fried egg on top, sauteed shrimp, mushrooms (pretty much any item in the fridge that sits still long enough for my eye to light on it) and it’s great alone too… just like the first time [insert nostalgic reverie moment here – ahhh].