When it comes to camping and cooking, we have a long and storied legacy. Braised lamb shoulder, rice and beans, rotisserie chicken, fried fillets of large mouth bass, smoked turkey legs, apple cobbler…
These are ALL things that we have cooked at one point or another, OVER A CAMPFIRE.
Over the top? Perhaps. An epic good time? Obviously.
The Origins of Pho Ramen: Family Campfire Cooking
The true origins of our camping cooking prowess are a bit more humble. When we were kids, we would pack up our camping gear, drive from the suburbs of New Jersey to upstate New York, hike into the park (usually somewhere like Bear Mountain), and camp for the night.
The menu for dinner? Piping hot instant ramen cooked on my dad’s Whisperlite stove.
My dad—the original camper of the family—would take out his kit of seasoning vials and sprinkle a few healthy pinches of curry powder and a few shreds of our trail-snack-leftover beef jerky into the noodles for an epic savory camping curry ramen recipe that really hit the spot when we were often parked on a log or rock and the air was cool and damp.
These trips were so enjoyable, in fact, that when we didn’t have the time for a full camping weekend, we would go for hiking day trips.
We’d climb deep into the trails, until we found a spot with perfectly scenic views, crisp air, and perhaps a few pieces of dried, downed wood around.
We’d admire nature, have a few restorative and refreshing sips of water, reflect on our place in the world…
AND THEN ROAST A COUPLE OF CORNISH HENS.
I kid you not, we once DAYTRIP hiked with two raw, marinated birds in my dad’s backpack on ice packs, and Macgyvered a rotisserie spit over an open fire.
You can barely see my mom behind all the delicious-smelling smoke coming off those babies:
And we (along with our cousin, who came along for the adventure) sat and ate those chickens, while bewildered slim campers powered by us in their North Faces and hiking boots with their tiny day packs filled with PowerBars and water bottles.
Sometimes laughing, sometimes just plain old confused, but always staring at this strange Chinese family that seemed way too committed to an out of the box culinary experience.
And our side dish with the chicken? Camping ramen, of course.
So, when my sister and I decided to take a California road trip this spring, with pit stops for camping, we of course packed up our mess kit and my dad’s old set of seasoning vials, and purchased a few packs of ramen on the road.
Except, instead of our traditional curry ramen (Someone *COUGH* SARAH *COUGH* forgot the curry powder…), we created something entirely new and extremely delicious over the fires at Potwisha Campground in Sequoia National Park (the next stop on our California road trip after Joshua Tree. Sarah will be posting that next week, so stay tuned! [Update]: Click here for the post!)
It’s camping ramen, THE PHO EDITION! Pho ramen is your standard instant beef-flavored ramen, a healthy amount of beef jerky, red onion–caramelized and stewed in the soup and served raw over the top, some greens if you’ve got them, and a generous squeeze of lime juice to finish it off.
It was delicious and perfect after a long day of driving.
And setting up camp—under a rainbow!
Add this pho ramen to your camp cooking repertoire for this summer, or just make it at home when you’re feeling lazy. Either way, you will enjoy it. Trust us.
Pho Ramen: Recipe Instructions
Put your pot over the flame (we used our trusty stainless steel camping cookset), and add the oil.
Using your handy dandy pocket knife (or regular knife if you’re not in the wilderness), prep your onions and beef jerky.
When the oil in the pot is hot (you can add a test piece of onion to check it out), add the large portion of your sliced onions. Stir for a minute, letting them caramelize. In the meantime, prep your beef jerky, and add that to the pot. Let cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on how hot your campfire is.
Add enough water to the pot to meet your soup preferences, and bring to a boil.
Add in the seasoning packet, the ramen noodles and vegetables (we used the leftover Tuscan kale from Joshua Tree!) and cook per package instructions.
When the noodles are cooked through…
Sprinkle the raw onion over the top, squeeze in the lime juice…
And serve your pho ramen in front of the campfire!
The textbook definition of a “happy camper,” with her pho ramen right here:
If you like our camping pho ramen and want to go bigger and make a real bowl of pho, check out Sarah’s pho recipe here! We also have an Instant Pot Pho recipe to satisfy your authentic pho craving that much faster.
Next post: Somewhere in the Woods: Sequoia National Park.