Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bringing NYC Ramen Home :)

I recently was in NYC for a week and began a love affar. The kind you read about in novels....well novels that have recipes, and brightly colored pictures of a cookbook novel. The food in that city is devine, and the creme-de-la-creme was the Japanese food -> Ramen! I'm not talking about the $0.12 bag of instant salty noodles you find on the bottom shelf at any quickie-mart that make you gassy and feel self-loathing after eating. No, no, I am talking about the deeply satisfying, cooked to perfection, overflowing flavorful soup that you can only really find at a true Japanese restaurant.  

Look how cute the avocado acts as the "egg" with the corn as the "yolk" in traditional ramen :)
Now, you could quite possibly be asking yourself "I am fairly certain ramen is a pork based soup, what is this vegan lady ranting about?" Well yes, you would be correct, it is a pork based broth with large amounts of said pork used as a topping in the soup. I was told that I would never fully appreciate the joy of ramen if I didn't eat the pork filled version. However, I am stubborn (and also quite squeamish when it comes to the idea of eating pork) and I fell in love with the vegan/veggie friendly versions of this soup. This was much to the chagrin of my dining companions. Ah one of the many joys of ordering food as a vegan...

I wanted to prove that a person opting to not eat pork can not only enjoy this soup at a restaurant, but also in their home!! Enter my grand master plan to bring this soul warming, belly filling, fantastical delight to my home kitchen. This plan brought me to the local Asian Food Market (a.k.a my new favorite establishment) and opened my eyes to trillions of tasty treats! Most of these treats, however, were labeled in languages I will probably never master (forgive my ignorance) and I had to pester a kind woman working there to walk with me to help pick out ramen making fixin's. Did she love having a crazy lady as a shadow for 25 minutes... I'd like to think so...

My bounty, thanks poor woman I pestered! Hope the rest of your shift was crazy lady free!!
Yes this recipe is a little out of the box, and will take you to far corners of your supermarket comfort zone, but the end result is well worth it! I can barely stop to type this out as I am shoveling ramen into my face at the moment. And yes, turns out that is hard to do when you are eating with chopsticks. Oh yeah, we're real authentic over here :)

Super Spicy Mushroom Ramen
serves 6-8 people
can be gluten free if you purchase rice noodles (read your labels please!)

Broth Ingredients:
4 cups mushroom broth (I used Organic Pacific Natural Foods)
4 cups water (from your soaked mushrooms)
3 large tablespoons of red miso paste
2 tablespoons sweet rice seasoning
2 tablespoons minced ginger
8-10 minced garlic cloves
Half a stalk of lemon grass cut in thirds (strictly for flavor do not serve with soup)

2 cups dried shitakii mushrooms (soaked in warm water for 30min)
1 bunch of green onions
1 head of broccoli
1/2 a head of red cabbage
1 & 1/2 cup of shredded bamboo
1 can of corn
3-4 avocados
1 package of japanese noodles 

Spicy Paste:
3 serrano peppers
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 tablespoon chili garlic sauce/paste
salt to taste

Oh yes, get ready for a labor of love. But stick with me on this one, you and whoever is lucky enough to be on the receiving end of this dish will be SO happy!!

Pre-Step: Set your oven to broil.

Step one, heat up a pot full of water, but do not let boil. When it is hot to the touch turn the heat off and put your dried shitakii mushrooms in the water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. While you wait you can chop up your other toppings and set them aside (broccoli, green onions, and cabbage). 

Step two, in a large pot pour your 4 cups of mushroom broth. Then once the mushrooms have finished soaking drain and take 4 cups of the water and add to the large pot. Place the drained mushrooms in a boil and set aside.

Step three, turn the heat to high on your broth and add in the red miso paste, ginger, garlic and sweet rice seasoning. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes. 

You're kitchen is going to be as messy as mine, nah-nah-nah-nah ;-p
Step four, while you are blending the base of the broth, start in on the spice! Place your whole 3 serrano peppers on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes. You are looking for the peppers' skin to start to bubble. Once they are ready remove from the oven, and turn it off. Wait for the peppers to cool slightly, and remove the skin. Then cut the peppers open and remove the seeds (leave a few if you want a spicier broth). Place your skinned and seeded peppers into your blender, and add the rest of the spicy paste ingredients. Blend until a paste has formed. 

Step five, carefully add the spicy paste to your broth. I suggest doing it a spoonful at a time and tasting the broth as you go. It gets pretty toasty pretty fast! Also add the lemongrass to the broth for additional flavor. Boil for 5 minutes. 

Step six, add the mushrooms and the broccoli to your broth and boil for 5 more minutes. 

Step seven, cook the noodles in a separate pot per the package instructions. Once they are done you are ready to create your ramen masterpiece!

Assembly time: Pour 2 cups of broth into a bowl (making sure to get mushrooms and broccoli in the bowl too). Add a large bunch of noodles to the bowl. Place a handful of the green onions, red cabbage and bamboo on the sides of the bowl. Cut an avocado in half and place a half in the bowl (you can be adorable and put corn in the middle of the avocado to act like the egg you see in traditional ramen). Also add in the corn to one of the sides of the bowl as well. And TAH-DAH you have done it! A yummmmmmy ramen meal for you and 5-7 other people!



  1. How colorful! That's the best looking ramen soup I've ever seen! Thanks for the post -- I now have a new appreciation for ramen!!

    1. Thanks so much!! It is pretty tasty! Hope you get a chance to try it out in your kitchen :)