Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vegan Ramen Recipe (Must Like Mushrooms)


I was going to just email this to some friends but then I thought, "More friends might want it at some point...better as a blog post." And so, here it is: the vegan ramen recipe I've been working on for the past few months in a trial-and-error kind of way.

I've been on a ramen kick this year and while I've sampled many different ramens in the Bay Area, I have yet to find one that tastes the way I want it to. Luckily, in the mean time, I've developed this recipe that I really like. It's fast, it's super flavorful, and the broth manages to achieve a relative richness I haven't found elsewhere.

This recipe is for a huge one person serving so I suggest making it once for one person and then if you want to make it for more people, adjust as needed. Or, you know, make this and serve it to two people because it's a really, really huge bowl of ramen.

You will need:
  • 1 pack Maruchan-style ramen (or you could use fancier noodles if you're fancy)
  • Portobello mushrooms (I've been using the sliced kind from Safeway, and I used about 1/2 the pack so 6 to 8 slices)
  • Shitake mushrooms (I get the box with~3oz and use the whole thing)
  • Enoki mushrooms (these guys really make the ramen way, way better, but are not essential so if you can't find them it's cool) I use one bunch.
  • Choy Sum (better) or Baby Bok Choy (also good, just not as good). I was mostly using baby bok choy until I saw the choy sum and was like "this looks yummy" and it totally is. I like the texture better for ramen, but baby bok choy also works if you can't find choy sum. I use 2 to 3...bunches? Heads? What do you call those things? Pieces? Anyways, 2 to 3 of them.
  • Green onions (1 bunch)
  • 1 Shallot
  • Sesame oil (at least 1 tbsp)
  • Garlic or garlic paste (I use the paste because it's easier) ~1 tbsp
  • Ginger powder (a shit ton)
  • Miso paste (I'm guessing like 1/3 cup?)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
You will also need:
  • A wok (preferably) or just a big, deep pan
  • A sauce pan (those are mine!)

  • A huge bowl to eat delicious ramen from
  • A soup spoon (essential to ramen enjoyment)
  • Chopsticks

This may sound like a lot so far BUT this recipe takes me about 20 minutes start to finish. I could be on Chopped with this, I swear.

SO

Prep:

Get some water in your sauce pan. I'd go with 1/2 to 3/4 full. I start this boiling while I'm doing the prep, then turn the temp down and let the water wait until I'm ready to cook the noodles. That way, I don't have to stand around doing nothing while I wait for it to heat up, because I hate waiting, especially while cooking.

Dice 1/2 your shallot. (P.S. Did you know there's a right way to do this? I didn't until I was watching Worst Cooks in America last night and a guy was criticized for not chopping his onion correctly and then I Googled it. This looks way better than the method I have been using, which involves a sharp knife and a lot of hope) The other half of your shallot can go in the fridge, you're done with that guy.

Clean your mushrooms. Slice the portobellos into 1/2 - 1" chunks. I just slice them width-wise all the way down the slice and boom, they're ready for ramen time. It helps to have animals underfoot while chopping <--pro p="" tip="">


With the shiitake, chop the cap off and slice the stems in thin 1/8" pieces, and cut the cap in half once, then thirds. For the enoki, chop the bottom gross part off (about 1 - 1.5") and then separate the lovely buddies from each other. They don't need to be like single stems, but should be loosely encouraged to uncouple. For the choy, chop the white butt part off and toss it, then thinly slice the rough bottom part of the choy and do a rougher, thicker-leaf chop for the green delicious part.

Chopped Portobellos and Shitakes
Chopped Bok Choy and Choy Sum
Now you're ready to start cooking!

Put some olive oil in your wok. I'm probably using about 1/4 cup, because I love olive oil, but I've never measured. Enough to cook all your mushrooms and choy ;) Heat the oil on a medium-high flame until it starts to shimmer, then add your garlic paste; mix in, then toss those shallots in, too.


Let those guys cook together for 2 minutes or so, then turn the heat down to medium, add your mushrooms, and stir them around. The enoki release a lot of moisture (more than the other mushrooms) which is part of the reason they make the ramen so much better--they're giving you lots of juice for the broth.

After you throw the mushrooms in the pan, cover them with a shit ton of ginger. I have no measurement for this, I just really love ginger so I put a lot on my mushrooms. Like, this much (p.s. could not find enoki mushrooms when preparing the ramen I photographed here, so imagine this picture but also with delicious enoki on top of the portobellos and shitakes):


You should also put salt on your mushrooms, and pepper if you want (I don't usually but hey, you might like pepper). Cook the mushrooms for 3 - 4 minutes until they've cooked down a bit. Stir them around.

Now is the part where you have to be mildly coordinated. Get your small pot of water boiling again. Open your ramen and take out the noodles. Discard your spice packet unless you can think of something else to use it for. Throw your bok choy into the mushroom pan and stir that around, then drop your ramen in your pot of water. So the veggies are in the wok, and the noodles are in the sauce pan.


You don't want your noodles to cook all the way before you combine them with your mushrooms (because they'll still be cooking in the wok) so only let them cook for about 2 minutes (separating the noodles--I use my chopsticks to do this)

then dump the whole thing (water and ramen) into your wok (if you like a lot of broth. If not, put the noodles in and add only as much water as you want). I've done this a bunch so managed to get an action shot without burning myself on boiling water.


Stir everything together, making sure to scrape the bottom of your wok to get all the bits of mushroom and shallot incorporated into the ramen, and then it's time to add flavor.

I use this miso paste and really like it:


I suggest you start with small amounts and keep adding until you like the way your broth tastes. I also add more ginger at this point. I usually start with a big spoonful of miso paste and just kind of squash it against the side of the pan until it dissolves to incorporate it with the ramen. I have tried other methods but none is much easier or better than this. You could also leave some of the water in your noodle pot and stir the miso paste into there, but unless you know exactly the amount you want for this recipe (and I don't yet...I still go by taste every time) you'll still have to add more to the wok eventually so...

Anyhow, I've tried a lot of different ways of getting a flavorful broth and beyond actually using pork and cooking it for many hours, I've concluded miso paste is the best bet. Keep adding salt, ginger powder, and miso paste until you like the way your broth tastes. You can also feel free to throw other spices in there because this is your life and I'm not going to tell you how to live it. Whenever you feel the ramen is spiced appropriately, move it to your giant bowl.

In the giant bowl, I usually drizzle the ramen with some sesame oil and then add some diced green onions. A note on sesame oil: if you put too much in, your ramen will be bitter. This happened to me the night I took the photos you're seeing in the blog and I was so bummed, but also I learned an important lesson that I'm able to pass along to you. So be conservative with your sesame oil.

Your ramen should wind up looking like this:


It will be delicious. Try not to burn your tongue eating too fast.

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