Yes, tasty vegetarian ramen is possible

Ramen—thin noodles served in a meaty broth topped with fresh vegetables—is quite the craze here. There are four ramen restaurants nearby, but what is usually called “vegetarian ramen” is nothing more than noodles in what closely resembles hot water. How to make a yummy vegetarian ramen broth became our quest, and I think we nailed it.

Mushroom ramen bowls

For the vegetable stock in the recipe, you can use a vegetarian bouillon cube or similar product (such as Better Than Bouillon), but you can also make your own stock: Use what you have on hand (I had green onions, a fennel bulb and fronds, parsley leaves and stems, mushroom stems, and sweet peppers). Chop, sauté in oil until soft, add water to cover by a few inches, and simmer for 45 minutes or so; strain the stock, and discard the solids.

Look for fresh ramen noodles in the refrigerator section of well-stocked grocery stores and at Asian markets or use dried.

For gluten-free, use brown rice or other gluten-free spaghetti and wheat-free soy sauce (tamari) or a soy sauce alternative.

Broth
  • vegetable stock
  • olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • mushrooms, such as shiitake and cremini, sliced
  • ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (or use a vegetable peeler)
  • garlic cloves, pounded and minced
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • ground spices, such as smoked paprika, coriander, chipotle, turmeric, and sage
  • tahini sesame paste (optional)
  • kombu (dried kelp), 1 strip about 6-in. long
  • fresh ramen noodles (see Notes)
  • miso
Possible toppings and seasonings
  • hard-cooked eggs
  • chopped spinach
  • shredded cabbage
  • toasted sunflower seeds and sesame seeds
  • seasoned or unseasoned firm tofu, cut into strips
  • green onion, thinly sliced
  • roasted peppers
  • daikon radish, cut into matchsticks
  • nori, cut into 3-in. squares (1 per soup bowl)
  • soy sauce, tamari, or soy sauce alternative
  • ponzu sauce (soy sauce with a citrus tang)
  • hot sauce
  • chile powder
  • black pepper
  1. Prepare vegetable stock (see Notes). Add stock to a large pot and heat to simmering.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan and cook onion and mushrooms until soft and beginning to brown. Add mushroom-onion mixture, ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds to large pot with stock. Simmer, uncovered, until broth is reduced by a fourth or so. Add ground spices and tahini if using.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare toppings and put in separate small bowls; assemble seasonings. About 20 minutes before serving, add kombu to broth.
  4. Right before serving, add a ladle of broth to a small bowl and dissolve miso in bowl; return dissolved miso to pot with broth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. To serve, add noodles to individual bowls, ladle hot broth over noodles, and add desired toppings and seasonings.
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