Ramen is one of the world’s most famous hot soups. Rich bone broths prepared from hog or chicken are traditionally used to flavor ramen. But what about vegan ramen that packs the same umami punch as its meat-based counterpart but is made entirely of plant-based ingredients?
All of this, my friends, is on the table for today.
SECRETS TO A RICHLY FLAVORED VEGAN RAMEN
Vegetarian ramen I’ve had in restaurants has always been thin and bland, lacking the rich umami flavor I’ve come to anticipate from Japanese ramen.
Recipes that don’t use the right elements to create real umami are all over the internet. Noodles and toppings are usually all that are needed to make most recipes.
Although we recently uploaded an Asian vegetable stock recipe we’re quite pleased with, we describe all the vegan elements that give the stock umami:
Shiitake mushrooms that have been dried have a deep, meaty taste.
My grandmother learned how to make this dish from a cook at a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in China who taught it to her as a secret.
Dried kelp (kombu), a source of naturally occurring glutamate, an amino acid that is the building block of umami flavor, is readily available.
White fermented bean curd, which has a savory flavor reminiscent of cheese.
Our vegan ramen will be a hit with meat eaters as well as those who are vegetarians and vegans alike, thanks to the ingredients in our vegetable stock.
We do, however, add one more component to the mix. Ramen broth has a smooth, almost milky, texture and look. Hours of boiling bones and cartilage are the source of this flavor!
What’s the secret to achieving the same velvety richness in a vegan broth? Soy milk in its purest form. It instantly transforms a plain stock into a flavorful (but vegan!) ramen broth.
In order to save time while cooking for oneself, you can make a large batch of the stock in advance and freeze it.
FOR THE VEGETABLE STOCK:
- 1/2 of napa cabbage
- 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil (divided)
- 7 slices of ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic (cut in half)
- 2 cubes of white fermented bean curd
- 1 large onion (quartered)
- 1 lb. of carrots (cut into large chunks)
- 8 scallions (ends removed)
- 8 oz. of daikon radish (peeled and cut into chunks)
- 1 5×5 inch piece of dried kelp (kombu) (rinsed)
- 16 pcs. of dried shiitake mushrooms (rinsed)
- 16 cups of water
- salt (to taste)
TO COMPLETE THE RAMEN BROTH:
- 2 1/2 tsp. of spicy bean sauce(la doubanjiang)
- 1 tbsp. of white miso paste
- 1/2 tsp. of sesame oil
- 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened soy milk
TO ASSEMBLE THE RAMEN:
- 1 tbsp. of oil
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 1 lb. of fresh ramen noodles
- 8 oz. of baby bok choy
- 1/2 cup of chili bamboo shoots
- 2 scallions (chopped)
- toasted nori (seaweed)
PREPARE THE STOCK (SKIP THIS STEP IF YOU ALREADY PRE-MADE THE VEGETABLE STOCK):
- Set the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Once you’ve halved your napa cabbage, cut it in half lengthwise again. The oil should be lightly drizzled over the cabbage on a baking sheet. 25 minutes of roasting time.
- A large stockpot should be heated on medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Garlic and ginger should only be cooked for a few minutes to release their flavor, not browned. After adding the fermented bean curd, cook for an additional minute. After that, add the onion, carrots, scallions, daikon, kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, and water. Add the roasted napa cabbage to the saucepan at the end of the roasting process.
- Simmer for four hours with the cover on, after which the heat should be reduced to low. Add salt to taste after straining the stock.
CREATE THE RAMEN BROTH:
- Add a tablespoon of oil to a separate pot and bring it to a boil—1 minute of frying the spicy bean paste. Finally, drain and re-add the stock to the pot (you will need about 8 cups to make 4 bowls of ramen).
- Continue to whisk in the miso paste and sesame oil until all of the miso paste has been incorporated. To this, add the soy milk and combine well. Make sure the dish is well-seasoned before adding salt if required. When all the other ingredients are ready, keep the soy milk on low heat and covered with a lid while making the rest.
ASSEMBLE THE RAMEN:
- Assemble the Ramen by boiling the noodles and broccoli in separate pots until they are al dente. In the meantime, prepare the corn by heating it in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil, seasoning it with salt, and then serving it. Saute the frozen corn until it’s soft and browned on all sides.
- It’s also a good time to bring your water to a boil. In accordance with the package directions, cook the ramen noodles. To make it easier to handle, cook the bok choy in the same pot as the noodles for 30 seconds.
- Pour the ramen broth into four bowls and serve immediately. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and squeeze some lime juice over the noodles before serving it to your family and friends. Serve!