Culinary Travel Around the World: Japanese Ramen

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Oh, I love myself a good ramen. So nourishing and comforting, although in Japan I had to bite the bullet and accept that even if the ingredients were vegan, the broth base was generally a meat broth. Don’t get me wrong, meat broth with good quality, organic, grass-fed beef is one of the most nourishing things you can have in your diet and I strongly encourage you to make your own or find a supplier if you do eat meat; alas, as a vegetarian I prefer vegetable based broth for obvious reasons, particularly if I cook for myself at home.

Now, one of the fantastic things of proper meat broth is the richness and thickness of the fluid that comes with it whereas vegetarian ramen base is usually quite thin. Until I came across this recipe which totally inspired me to make my own, much less complicated version of this nice, vegan, creamy bowl of goodness with ingredients I actually know. I also topped the dish off with some extra sprouts to get some good quality protein in in there. If you want to play around with it a bit more, why don’t you add some tamary soy sauce marinated, flash fried (in coconut oil) tofu for some more protein?

It’s quite a full on recipe, so make sure to read it through before you start and don’t let that put you off. It is totally worth it! Plus, the broth gives you double the portion, so it is handy for whenever you want to make the ramen again. As always, enjoy this nourishing meal and let me know how you get on with it!

Japanese Ramen

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan.

Note: adding the miso once the broth base has cooled down a bit prevents the good bacteria in the miso being killed at high temperatures. After all, we want all that goodness to get to our bellies!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 100g mushrooms, cut into half, keep 2 mushrooms on the side
  • 1 medium aubergine, whole
  • 2x small to medium sized sweet potatoes, sliced into 1 cm slices
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into half
  • 1 piece of ginger, size of a thumb, halved
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried porcini mushrooms (or 1-2 ‘whole’ dried slices)
  • Kombu algae, 3-4 cm piece
  • Tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • Organic, whole grain noodles (I like TerraSana brown rice noodles, particularly the pumpkin and ginger flavoured one’s): one portion per person (make sure noodles are gluten-free if you require them gluten-free)
  •  Optional: mung been sprouts, flash fried tofu

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. In the meantime, start making your broth: add kombu, 2 of the mushrooms kept to the side, 3-4 shiitake mushrooms (sliced), the dried mushrooms, the spring onions and 1L of hot water to a saucepan and bring to a boil, before reducing the heat to simmering. Simmer for about an hour, adding in the roasted ginger and onion as soon as they are done (see Step 3).
  3. Roast whole aubergine, the onion halves, the ginger halves and the whole garlic clove on a baking tray for ca. 30-35 minutes. As soon as the ginger halves and the onion halves are changing colour, you can add them to the simmering broth (which may be before the baking time for all the other ingredients is over). Simmer the broth for another 20-30 minutes.
  4. Melt the coconut oil in a roasting dish. Add the sweet potatoes and the halved mushrooms to the roasting dish, stirring everything well so that all surfaces are covered by the coconut oil. Add to the other roasting vegetables about 10 minutes after the first lot of vegetables when into the oven and roast for ca. 20 minutes or until well cooked. When all vegetables are roasted, switch the oven off, open the door for 1-2 minutes to cool the oven down a bit, before closing the door, so keeping everything warm.
  5. Once the aubergine is roasted, skin it, discard the skin and roughly break the flesh apart. Mix with the sesame seeds and 1-2 tbsp of tamary soy sauce to make an aubergine paste.
  6. Cook the noodles as per instructions (for terrasana noodles about 5-6 minutes).
  7. Once the broth is done, strain it, so that just the watery part remains. Split the broth in half: use one half now and keep the other half for a later date. Take half of the sweet potato slices from the oven, add it with the watery broth into a blender and squeeze out the roasted garlic clove. Blend altogether to get a creamy base and leave to cool down slightly.
  8. Mix the miso paste with the tahini and then stir it into the broth base. Add tamari soy sauce to taste (although be mindful that the aubergine paste also contains soy sauce).
  9. Assemble: add noodles into the broth, then top with the aubergine paste, the remaining sweet potato and the roasted mushrooms, another 1-2 sliced shiitake mushrooms, chopped spring onions and sprouted mung beans. Enjoy!

 

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