The secrets behind instant noodle seasoning sachets

By Staff reporters   December 21, 2017 | 10:00 pm PT
Each seasoning sachet, carefully prepared using the manufacturer's own secret recipe, helps give the noodles a unique taste.

Instant noodles are well-liked by many consumers in Vietnam as they are convenient to prepare, cheap and delicious. Having instant noodles for breakfast has become a habit for Thu Ha's family.

Worried that the seasoning sachets that come with the noodles could contain an unhealthy amount of salt and MSG, the 34-year-old mother from Hanoi often leaves them out. This decision, however, has proven to be unpopular among her family.

"When I add seasoning to the noodles they are often bland and not as tasty as when we use the sachets. The broth is also not as spicy, oily and colorful as when I use all three sachets," Ha said. "My husband and kids complain the noodles are too bland and often skip breakfast."

While they are just extras, noodle manufacturers consider their seasoning sachets their secret behind winning consumers.

Instant noodle is a convenient food well-liked by many people.

Instant noodles are a convenient dish well-liked by many people.

In Vietnam, each pack of instant noodles is often accompanied by three seasoning sachets: a stock powder sachet, a shacha sauce sachet and a dried vegetable sachet. Some high-end instant noodle products also add an additional sachet containing meat and shrimp. Consumers can check the ingredients by reading the descriptions printed on their packaging.

The stock powder is prepared by condensing fresh vegetables, bone, meat or seafood with ingredients such as salt, sugar, MSG, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and chili, according to Tran Van Ky, a doctor from the Vietnam Food Safety Science and Technology Association. The amount of MSG in each sachet is standardized in accordance with food safety regulations.

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is the most well-researched food additive in history, Ky said. It is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the over 20 amino acids that are used to create proteins in the human body. MSG can be found in natural foods such as meat, fish, milk, tomatoes, peas, corn and carrots.

The ingredients used to create instant noodles seasonings.

The ingredients used to create instant noodle seasonings.

The dried vegetable and meat sachets are newer additions, having been absent when instant noodles were first introduced 60 years ago. Real ingredients such as fresh vegetables, meat, eggs and seafood are dried using modern technologies, allowing them to retain their tastes when they come into contact with boiling water. These seasoning sachets not only make the instant noodles look more delicious but also increase their nutritional value.

The sauce used in the sachets is usually shacha sauce. The main ingredients are refined oil and natural flavors extracted from herbs, spices, onion, garlic, rice paddy herb and pepper. The fat content of each instant noodle product and each sauce sachet is printed on the packaging.

According to a representative of Acecook Vietnam, each and every seasoning sachet produced by the company is strictly controlled along every step from raw ingredients to the final product in accordance with Vietnamese standards. The Japanese noodle company has researched unique cuisines from all over Vietnam in order to create seasoning sachets that complete the noodles to Vietnamese tastes.

If one of the seasoning sachets is left out, the delicious, unique taste of the noodles will be missing something, the representative stressed. Consumers are also recommended to add fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs or meat to their instant noodles for an even more nutritious meal.

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