I didn’t like ramen growing up.
I remember many of my middle school and high school friends happily enjoyed Cup Noodles for lunch just about every day. I didn’t understand why.
I later realized it wasn’t the ramen I didn’t like: it was the heavy seasonings around it. In college, I developed a liking for Top Ramen 3 oz packages because I could eat the noodles and not use the “beef” or “chicken” flavor packets included separately in the package.
With the rising cost of groceries, I’ve come to love Top Ramen even more: a 12 pack of Top Ramen 3 oz packages is still under $3.00. (Where I shop, it’s $2.67, to be exact.)
Which means that Top Ramen is perfect for poor kids.
Poor Kid Peanut Sauce Ramen
I dress Top Ramen up with pan-fried tofu, broccoli, and my decadent vegan peanut sauce. Peanut butter, garlic, Bragg Liquid Aminos, rice vinegar, brown sugar, lime juice, and Sriracha are all you need to make this easy sauce.
This sauce is so good, and the whole meal is so delicious, you’d never guess it feeds a family of four for under $2 a serving. Couple this peanut sauce ramen with a few of my other poor kid recipes, and you’ll be surprised at how low your weekly grocery bill can be.
Make Poor Kid Peanut Sauce Ramen
If you’re looking for an affordable meal that doesn’t sacrifice flavor, this Poor Kid Peanut Sauce Ramen is it.
Make it for dinner this week!
For Spicy Poor Kids
Sriracha is an optional ingredient in the sauce, but I strongly recommend using it. The amount is small, so it doesn’t make the sauce spicy, but it does add a nice subtle flavor. If you’re a poor kid who likes spicy foods, feel free to add more Sriracha than the recipe card lists.
For Fancy Poor Kids
Top each serving with fresh cilantro and chopped nuts. Toasted cashews or peanuts are delicious and affordable options. These toppings really take this Poor Kid Peanut Sauce Ramen to the next level.
Peanut Sauce Ramen Secret Ingredient: Bragg Liquid Aminos
If there’s a secret ingredient to this peanut sauce, it would be the Bragg Liquid Aminos. Like soy sauce, Bragg Liquid Aminos is made from soybeans and purified water. But where soy sauce contains wheat, aminos does not, making it gluten-free. Bragg Liquid Aminos is also lower in sodium than soy sauce, and has a more nuanced flavor profile: the smokiness of Bragg Liquid Aminos makes this peanut sauce particularly delicious.
You can find Bragg Liquid Aminos here [aff. link] or in my Amazon store here.
Poor Kid Peanut Sauce Ramen
For the tofu:
- 14 oz pan-fried or baked tofu, find my pan-fried tofu recipe here or my baked tofu recipe here
For the broccoli:
- 12 oz broccoli, cut to small florets (1 inch to 1 ½ inch)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
For the peanut sauce:
- ½ cup peanut butter, regular smooth peanut butter
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 3-4 tsp lime juice
- ½ - ¾ tsp Sriracha, optional
- ¼ - ½ cup water, use more or less water depending on how thick you want the sauce to be
For the ramen:
- 1-4 3 oz packages Top Ramen
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup Top Ramen water, reserved from when you drain the ramen
- fresh cilantro, minced
- toasted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped
Make the tofu
- If serving the ramen with tofu, follow the instructions for my pan-fried tofu recipe or baked tofu recipe. If you're in a hurry, make the pan-fried tofu. It's quicker.
Make the broccoli
- To save time, cook the broccoli in a separate skillet at the same time as you make the tofu. You can also make the tofu first, then cook the broccoli in the same skillet you made the tofu in.
- If the broccoli florets are large, cut them smaller. 1 inch to 1 ½ inch florets are best.
- Add the olive oil, broccoli, and salt to a skillet. Cook the broccoli over medium-high heat, flipping occasionally, until it turns bright green, about 3-5 minutes. Take the broccoli off the heat immediately. It should be just cooked and not mushy. Some pieces may get a little charred. The broccoli is done, set aside.
Make the peanut sauce
- Add all the sauce ingredients to a small mixing bowl or cereal bowl. TO START, ONLY USE ¼ CUP OF THE WATER and 3 TSP OF THE LIME JUICE. You can add more of each later, if needed.
- Whisk everything together. If the sauce is too thick, add an additional 2 Tbsp water. If it’s still too thick, add another 2 Tbsp water.
- Once the peanut sauce is at your desired thickness, taste. Add more lime juice, if desired.
- The sauce is done, set it aside.
Cook the Top Ramen
- If making 1-2 packages of ramen, fill a saucepan about ⅔ full of water. If making 3-4 packages of ramen, fill a soup pot about ⅔ full of water.
- Bring the water to a boil, then add the ramen. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer the ramen for 3-5 minutes, until it’s cooked through but not mushy. While the ramen simmers, gently pull apart/separate the individual noodles with your fork.
- RESERVE 1 CUP of water from the noodles as you drain them. Put the drained noodles back in the pot you cooked them in and drizzle 1-2 tsp of olive oil and 1-2 Tbsp of the ramen water over the noodles. With a fork, gently toss the noodles into the oil and water. This will help keep the ramen noodles from sticking together.
Serve and enjoy
- Put a serving of noodles on a plate, top with tofu, broccoli, and a generous amount of peanut sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro and peanuts or cashews, if desired. Enjoy!
I haven’t had packaged ramen in a long time, but I would eat anything with peanut sauce on it!
Haha thanks Jeff! It’s amazing what a good sauce can do!
I totally know you mean about ramen – I’ve never really been a fan myself. Laura eats it on occasion for lunch, but I always opt for something else. But the noodles themselves are a great shortcut for better recipes…like this version with peanut sauce. Sounds delicious, Shannon!!
Absolutely delicious, easy, and affordable, yum!