Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegetarian Shiitake Ramen

I loved ramen as a kid. It was one of those easy-to-make vegetarian meals that I could fix on my own in minutes. With me and two brothers in the house, we kept a pallet of ramen around at all times. Last weekend while watching The Mind of a Chef, David Chang's new PBS show, I got inspired to make a grown-up version of one of my childhood favorites. 
      The key here is the vegetarian broth, which employs kombu and dried shiitake to give it body and flavor. According to the Umami Information Center, dried shiitake mushrooms contain a high level of naturally occurring glutamate which boosts the mushroom's umami flavor.
      "This doesn't taste vegetarian," my wife called out from across the table...mission accomplished. 
      (I guess it may look like some of the following ingredients might be difficult to find, but fear not: we found everything last night at Whole Foods.) 

Vegetarian Shiitake Ramen

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3-4 ounces fresh baby shiitake
Cracked black pepper (to taste)

1 tablespoon ponzu 
2 packages instant ramen noodles (cooked according to package instructions, but with flavor packets tossed out)
1 medium carrot (shredded using a serrated peeler)
2 soft boiled eggs*
1 green onion (thinly sliced)
Shiitake Ramen Broth (recipe follows)

In a medium pan over high heat, add the sesame oil and the shiitake mushrooms stem-side-up. Season with plenty of black pepper. Sear the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes or until nicely browned. Add the ponzu and toss until the liquid has evaporated; this happens quickly. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside until ready to assemble the dish.

To assemble the soup, divide the noodles between two bowls. Place half of the mushrooms off to the side of the pile of noodles and half the carrots off to the other side in each bowl. Top the mound of noodles with the soft boiled egg and garnish with the onion. Pour in enough hot broth to cover the noodles about halfway. Using chopsticks, go ahead and dig in.

Shiitake Ramen Broth

1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth (like Whole Foods 365 Organic brand)
3 green onions (white and green parts, roughly chopped)
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
12 x 3 inch piece kombu (rinsed briefly under cold water)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
2 teaspoons soy sauce (like Bragg's)
2 teaspoon mirin (sweet cooking wine)

Place the broth, onions, mushrooms, kombu, garlic, soy sauce, and mirin in a medium sauce pan and turn the heat on high. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the mixture has reduced by more than half; this should take 20 to 30 minutes. Strain the broth using a mesh strainer, and make sure to press all of the liquid out from the mushrooms and kombu. This should leave you with about 1 1/2 cups of very 
well-seasoned broth. Keep warm until ready to use.

* Bring salted water to a full boil, lower the eggs into the water, pull them out 6 minutes later, and place them into an ice bath.  Wait until eggs are cool to the touch and then peel and serve.


Unknown said...

Holy crap. I am obsessed with mushrooms, ramen, and, well, plan on eating at Momofuku whenever I make it to NY. This is getting made whenever next weeks festivities die done.

kimu said...

Looks fantastic, I'm totally going to try this! Just a note that real ramen noodles (vs the instant kind) are fairly easy to track down at most Japanese grocery stores. The right noodle can make a huge difference.

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

I know. I figure that if you can find it at Whole Foods then it's not a "hard to find" ingredient. I love venturing out, but we are just trying to make it accessible for all.

la viajera said...

Looks delicious!! Can't wait to try it.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting your recipe. I love veggie raman and have been looking for a good recipes for a while. : )
May I also recommend that if you ever go to Tokyo, Japan you should go to T'S Noodles in Tokyo Station. It's all vegan and all yummy. Thanks for sharing, I can't wait to try it. : )

mzkynd said...

Oh My now I am Hongry!! Yeah not hungry Hongry with a big ol' hippo grumbling in my belly saying "Feed me this soup right now!"

Sara @ The Cozy Herbivore said...

This looks AMAZING. Philly is going through a big ramen re-birth right now, with trendy noodle places popping up everywhere and self described "foodies" (eeyeuch, I hate that term) falling over themselves to rhapsodize about ramen. But seriously NONE of the new places offer a vegetarian option. Not one! So silly. Anyway, I look forward to making this and thumbing my nose at the rest of my snobby city.

Gorgeous work, as usual! I can't wait to get my hands on your cookbook.

hibbarka said...

It IS amazing! We have made it twice now and will be making it tonight for Xmas eve dinner for two. Unbelievable deep flavors. Thank u for posting this recipe!

Anonymous said...

FYI....ponzu is NOT vegetarian. It contains fish. I realized this after I already made and ate this. The recipe was VERY yummy. But seeing how this recipe was supposed to be vegetarian I trusted that the ingredients would be so. A little disappointing.

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

We always read the ingredients list when we're working with any processed food and think that's a good practice for all home cooks. Eden makes a good ponzu sauce without anything non-veg in the ingredients list, so we're ok with using it:

You could make your own veg version like this ex. if you feel that it is still questionable for the way you like/choose to eat: