In August, at the tail end of our trip to Alberta and British Columbia, we spent a few terrific days in Vancouver. I have a whole Vancouver post coming up soon, but from a food-lover’s perspective it can be boiled down to just a few words, one of which is RAMEN. Pun totally intended, by the way. Hooray for a big city that situates some of its best cheap food within easy walking distance of a giant seaside park. We ate some wonderful ramen with rich, deeply savory (and totally pork-based) broth at Santouka on Robson Street. Even as we were slurping thousands of miles away, I knew immediately that I wanted to come home and create a vegetarian version that retained as much of the heft and depth of that magic brew as possible. This easy vegetarian ramen recipe is the result of more obsession than you might like to know, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
“Easy ramen” is a funny term for a from-scratch recipe, since there may literally be nothing easier than boiling water in an electric kettle and stirring it into a styrofoam cup to make instant ramen. The problem there, of course, is that the result sucks. I’ll say right away that this recipe is not as easy as that. But as you can probably tell from the photos, the extra effort is well worth the result. Even compared to other easy vegetarian ramen recipes that you might find on the web, this one takes a little more waiting time and a couple of extra ingredients. But again, the resulting depth of flavor makes it all unquestionably worthwhile. And in the end, it’s still easy. I swear.
A word about the noodles: The recipe calls for fresh or dry ramen noodles because I know not everyone has access to incredible fresh noodles. That said, if you can get your hands on them, I hiiiiiiighly recommend the fresh noodles from Sun Noodle, a NJ company that supplies to many of the best ramen shops in NYC and NJ. I get their noodles in the refrigerator section at Whole Foods. (They sell packs with instant broth, too, but I just buy the plain noodles.) I don’t know how widely distributed they are outside this area, but they’re worth asking for. Whole Foods has been known to expand their distribution of local products to additional stores based on customer request. (My sister and I are lookin’ at you, Key Ingredient Market spreads to die for, now available in the greater Boston area.)
Obsession? Yup, I hear it and I don’t care. But I’ll stop now. Enjoy your ramen. See you soon.
(Psst…for a vegan version, just omit the butter and the egg. Still fab, promise.)
P.S. Affiliate links follow.
Easy Vegetarian Ramen with Rich, Savory Broth
If you've been pining for a vegetarian ramen that's full of heft and deep, savory flavor, look no further. This is it. The longer you steep the dried shiitakes, the deeper the flavor will be -- so if you can spare 10 minutes in the morning or the night before, it's worth starting the recipe then. If not, you can make it all at once, and it will still be delicious. The only real trick to ramen is that there are a lot of moving parts at the very end. Enlist a helper to assemble the bowls, or just shake it like a boss for five minutes before serving. It's fun and totally worth it. Nice big, wide bowls work well for ramen. I'm a fan of these and these.
- 8 cups good low-sodium vegetable broth (this is my favorite by far)
- 1 ounce dried shiitakes (15-20 mushrooms)
- 1/4 cup low-sodium tamari or other good soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon good butter
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 tablespoon mirin (rice wine)
- 10 ounces baby spinach
- 4 eggs
- 10 ounces sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 4 servings fresh or dry ramen noodles*
- One 6-ounce package baked tofu, at room temperature
- 2 to 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced
- Gomasio (sesame salt)
- Toasted sesame oil with hot chili
P.P.S. I lied a little. Still going. 🙂