WHY ARE THERE TWO FIRST PARTNER FLAVORS? WHAT IS MASSAMAN CURRY? WHERE’D THE AROMA OIL GO?
Girl_DM partner flavor was First, but also Eckhart’s Ladder partner flavor was First.
Let me explain.
The initial idea of creating partner flavors was discussed in a talk with Eckhart’s Ladder, and we began developing the system of how partner flavors could be created. In short, we make something based on something our partner wants made, and then we send them samples over and over and over again, making tweaks on the recipe depending on nutrition, taste, supply chain, cost, etc, etc until we get something that our partner is absolutely ecstatic with.
During the initial process with Eckhart’s Ladder, as we neared the end of development, we also reached out to Girl_Dm to see if she wanted to develop her own flavor as well. Because of how long and irregular supply chains now are, we tend to try and hedge for delays and problems ahead of time as much as possible, and tend to have multiple different flavors ready in case there are problems with another.
And a good thing we did this too, because that’s exactly what happened with Masaaman Curry. There were ingredients that got pushed back for more than half a year because of shortages and other issues, leaving us with little choice but to go with...
Beef and Sichuan?
Yeah, so... Those delays actually hit both Yuzu Shoyu and Masaaman Curry. The original plan was to actually release Massaman Curry in October of 2021, and Yuzu Shoyu in November of 2021.
Beef Pho v3.0 and Sichuan Chili Edition v3.0 similarly suffered delays because of this, as we’d wanted to get them out originally alongside all the other v3.0 flavors.
Because of this, everything got delayed to 2022, and we kept being optimistic, saying a release would be in February, then March, then April... And some critical ingredients in Massaman Curry kept suffering delays. By that time, we had managed to get all the ingredients for Yuzu Shoyu, and so we began to switch our plans around.
Massaman Curry wouldn’t be ready until late May, early June, and Yuzu Shoyu, so we could begin making the packets in late April.
Funnily enough, that means that both Eckhart’s Ladder AND Girl_Dm are firsts for Vite Ramen-- Eckhart’s Ladder claims the First Partner Flavor Designed and Approved, while Girl_Dm claims the First Partner Flavor Made and Released! Both flavors, being partner flavors and being flavor first, are Sodium Unlocked.
But wait, what’s Masaaman Curry?
Okay, that was a bit of a poor transition but I’m out of ideas here alright give me a break it’s like 2am and I decided I wanted to write for some reason
Massaman Curry, also spelled Masaaman, masaman, and a few other ways because translating into english doesn’t always work so cleanly, is a curry from Thailand. It’s an extremely variable curry type, since it’s a dish that’s been influenced by many, many different cultures over the course of its lifespan. Even the name itself is a borrowed term from Persian, which further confuses the “correct” way to spell or pronounce the word.
Basically, it’s a word that’s been through the translation wringer over centuries multiple times. Flip a sentence through even google translate a few times and see how that turns out, and that’s why there’s a bunch of spellings in a completely different language for it.
Personally, one of the reasons I particularly enjoy the concept of this curry is that it, like some of the other things we’ve made, carries the idea of cooperation amongst many different people with it, all of different backgrounds, cultures, and environments to create something awesome. This is a curry that traditionally uses classic Thai ingredients like shrimp paste, fish sauce, lemongrass, galangal, and coconut milk, but also Indian and middle eastern spices, like cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and others.
Then, take this curry dish with influences from all across Asia and the Middle East, and make it in North America, where it finds itself cooked by a Thai restaurant and served, piping hot and fresh, in front of the eager utensils of a Canadian YouTuber going by the moniker of Eckhart’s Ladder, and what do you get?
You get... a Chinese dude living in America making a Japanese noodle that bears a similarly culturally modified named noodle dish (see my previous blog post for more information on how the word “ramen” derives from ancient China!) in a brand new high protein, nutritious way along with the Vietnamese head of R&D to make a version of this curry that pairs along with the noodles that they have because this Chinese-American dude binge watched way too many of this Canadian guy’s Halo and Star Wars videos and then they did sponsored videos together and decided, hey, what if we made you your own flavor and then he was like yeah that’d be awesome are you able to make my favorite food ever massaman curry into this and the Chinese-American dude was like yeah sure that sounds awesome let’s do it.
And then they did it.
Well it was a bit harder than that. A few interesting things we had to deal with is that, by and large, we don’t want peanut allergens inside our facility. They’re one of the allergens that are incredibly difficult to deal with, being how little parts per million can potentially harm someone, so we don’t do that. Some Masaaman recipes do call for peanuts, but we omitted it from ours for the sake of allergen safety.
We also began with utilizing aroma oils to start with, and then realized... wait, this doesn’t really make that much sense. See, curry is on the thicker side, right? That means that as the water gets added and it thickens up, any oils just get stirred into the thicker sauce, and don’t have the same kind of aromatic capabilities floating on top of broth that our broth based flavors do.
Similarly, because of the large amount of coconut in there, which creates the most fat-flavor impact, it didn’t really make sense for us to add some form of potentially aromatic oil on top, which would just end up being... aromatic coconut oil? Better that we just incorporate the powdered form into the curry itself, so that it’s a cohesive curry sauce.
Which, did you also notice that I mentioned that this isn’t a broth based flavor? That’s because, for the first time ever, this is a “dry noodle” flavor! Well, not exactly “dry” in that sense, but most of the water is poured out in the preparation of this curry, so that it can get a thicker mouthfeel. Of course, the best thing about this is that the resulting curry sauce is strong enough in flavor that if you’re like me, and actually prefer thinner, brothier things, adding a bunch of water so you have soup to sip on later still works, but the “technically correct preparation” is with less water.
Look, the instructions are more of a suggestion, okay? I don’t even follow ‘em to the letter, and I help design it. There’s always wiggle room for personal preference.
This also does mean that there’s only one packet in here. Not to fear, this one packet is every bit as flavorful (or more!) than the other flavors we have, it’s just a little different. We have actual coconut in there, as well as fish sauce powder, shrimp powder, and all the usual suspects of a combination of nutrition, spices, and all the other good stuff you’ve come to expect from a packet of Vite Ramen.
So, when you get a pack of this Massaman Curry, sit down, savor the fragrance and complexity of the multitude of spices, seasonings, and flavors within, and think about how this never could’ve been made without the centuries upon centuries of history unfurled behind it. Think about the Persian trader with a hearty laugh and a warm smile, offering their trove of spices to their newfound Thai friend as they shared a meal together in the warm summer night, and the dish that traveled through time and continents to make its way through our multitude of differing cultures, mingling, combining, collaborating, until finally settling down on your table in a packet of ramen, made by a couple of overly deep lore talking Star Wars, Halo, and sci-fi nerds, who still have never met in person, and never even done a face to face zoom or discord call, and yet were able to make this meal sitting in front of you, together.
Kind of neat to think about, isn’t it?
-Tim Zheng, CEO/Founder