In the U.S., ramen has gone from being a staple of every college student’s diet to costing $180 at certain Manhattan restaurants in a matter of a few short years. For better or for worse, dried Japanese noodles have become a near-inextricable part of the American diet, and we have one person in particular to thank for that: Momofuku Ando.
On Monday, CNN’s Great Big Story released a short video on the instant-ramen innovator, charting the noodle’s journey from post-World War II Japan to global domination. After the devastation of the war, the U.S. gave Japan flour and encouraged them to make bread. But Ando thought it made more sense to have his countrymen use the ingredients to make noodles, a food that was already a staple of Japanese cuisine.
According to the video, Ando spent a year trying to discover a way to preserve the noodles and halt the cooking process. He ultimately stumbled upon the method of flash frying when he accidently dumped the noodles into a vat of boiling tempura oil that his wife using to cook dinner.
“Instant ramen noodles became an Instant success,” the video says. “Ando’s products gained notoriety when he introduced the packaged ramen in the 1950s and later Cup Noodles in 1978. His company began selling upwards of 40 billion units every year and Momofuku Ando became a culinary icon in Japan.”
The rise of high-end, gourmet ramen in America is often credited to David Chang, who likely named his flagship noodle bar, and subsequent restaurant group, Momofuku, in Ando’s honor.
[via Great Big Story]