When you think of “dipping” foods you probably imagine dunking them into a bowl of creamy, often umami-forward dip. This is usually done to make chips even more indulgent and vegetables more exciting, but you don’t necessarily need a sour cream base to accomplish the latter. All you need is a fine, super-flavourful powder that will cling to the freshly cut surface of the vegetable. All you need is ramen powder.
Dipping vegetables into dry seasoning — a version of dusting one’s wets — isn’t something I came up with all on my own. Our managing editor told me he’s seen baby carrots come with a packet of dry ranch, and Sohla El-Waylly of Bon Appetit recently shared her idli podi-inspired “Ranch Fun Dip” — a savoury mixture of nutritional yeast, pistachios, Aleppo pepper, and a whole bunch of savoury seasonings — with Food52.
All this talk about dry, flavourful powders got me thinking about the packets of ramen seasoning sitting in my cupboard. I’ve been making a lot of cold ramen bowls (with peanut sauce) but I don’t dare toss the seasoning packet that comes with the block of noodles. Those are precious. I usually sprinkle them on popcorn or french fries, but last night I poured the powder onto a plate, then dipped freshly cut cucumber spears into it the pile of flavour dust until I had eaten all of the cucumbers in my produce drawer (which was one and a half cucumbers).
If you are familiar with ramen seasoning, you can probably guess how delightful this was. The cool, crunchy, slightly sweet cucumber was a perfect foil for the intensely salty and meaty powder, which clung to the freshly cut vegetable much like Fun Dip sticks to that candy stick. (I swear Solha’s mind is a marvel.) The amount of powder that makes it onto your crudité is easy to control, but keep in mind that this works best with freshly cut vegetables, as you need that moisture. Dry, pre-cut produce just doesn’t have the sticking power required to stick the powder.
Carrots, radishes, green onions and halved cherry tomatoes are all delicious here, and you’re only limited by your ramen powder collection, which is one of the least expensive collections you can build. (The beef powder is a good starting point, though; it has a slight sweetness that I really enjoy.)