We Warned You About Fiery Instant Ramyeon

Samyang Buldak ramyeon is legendary among heat-seekers.

When you browse the instant noodle aisle at any Asian grocery store, you'll find a vast variety (we love our ramyeon). The packaging for each brand is typically adorned with attractive hues of red, green, and blue, but one brand sticks out on the shelf, its package pitch-black with bright red lettering on it. The black is foreboding, and the red text looks like a warning. Congratulations, you've just discovered Samyang's Buldak ramyeon from South Korea. Welcome to a delicious world of hurt.

What is buldak?

In order to explain the joy of this ramyeon, we have to start with the Korean dish, buldak, from which it derives its name. The word bul means "fire," while the word dak means "chicken." So, fire chicken. Buldak is a popular Korean dish that involves fire-grilled (or less commonly, fried) chicken that's absolutely doused in a blend of Korean red pepper powder and gochujang, a fermented red pepper paste. It's then topped with a stretchy white cheese such as mozzarella and broiled until the cheese is blistered.

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The result is a scorchingly spicy dish that's tempered by the mild cheese on top. It's a little sweet, too, and you'll find yourself going back for more helpings no matter how sweaty you get or how much your nose starts to run. Try washing it down with some cold beer.

What makes buldak ramyeon so great?

Samyang uses buldak as an inspiration for its spicy ramyeon flavor base. You boil the noodles until they're cooked, but unlike most soup-based ramen, these noodles have very little broth. The instructions will tell you to drain the noodles, leaving a small amount of water, and then it's time to apply the sauce packet, which contains a forebodingly dark red liquid. A sprinkling of dried seaweed and sesame seeds comes in a separate packet; once you dump that on top, you're good to go.

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Once you dig in, you'll find yourself with a mouthful of powerfully spicy, mildly sweet, smoky, chewy noodles. They're delicious, and you'll understand the hype. I can hear you first-timers saying, "Whatever, I can handle these. They're fine." The spice-tolerant can handle these noodles with a mild sweat, though they push the boundaries for a few.

The fire doesn't stop there, though. Once Samyang realized that people were chasing the endorphin high of eating these spicy noodles, it released a second version, aptly called "Samyang 2X Spicy Hot Chicken."

The hottest ramyeon on the market

The 2X spicy ramen has red packaging instead of black, which should raise your suspicions about the heat contained within. This stuff is on a whole new level: It has the same flavor as the original, but after a few bites, the noodles go from semi-palatable to straight up punishing. The burn lingers rather than going away, and worst (best?) of all, it's a cumulative flame that just compounds upon itself with each bite.

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I have definitely gone through a few packages of these, but this is the kind of spicy that'll burn a hole just sitting in your stomach, and the next day you'll probably be wishing you invested in a bidet that shoots out ice water. Good times.

If you try these noodles, either the original Buldak or the 2x spicy variety, don't tell me I didn't warn you. But also, remember that I encouraged you. I wouldn't recommend this kind of punishment if it didn't taste so good. Which it does. Just make sure you're mentally prepared for the ride.

 

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