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2018-07-21
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This vegan shoyu ramen is not a super quick dish to make, but the taste of the hearty bowl is well worth the effort!

 

Originally a Chinese noodle dish, ramen comes very close to our heart in Japan. People’s love for ramen has spread way beyond Japan and now it’s immensely popular across the world.

There are so many ramen shops everywhere in Japan, but unfortunately, there are only a handful of places that serve vegan ramen… So one weekend, I decided to take on this task to make vegan ramen at home:)

In making ramen, perhaps the most important part is the soup. There are different flavors like shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) and miso but those flavors are added only at the end, and what really determines the taste of soup is the base stock.

There is a myriad of ways to make base stock for ramen soup, and every shop has its own recipe, which is a combination of vegetables and meat/bones or fish. So, what will happen if I make the stock without meat/bones? Well, let’s see!

First, I start with making the dashi stock using shiitake mushrooms and kombu seaweed (both dry). I soak them in water overnight so all the essence and flavor seep into the water and become dashi stock.

For making the soup, I start with frying the pungent vegetables (green part of Japanese long onion, onion, garlic and ginger) with sesame oil. This process is important as vegetables heated in oil produce roasty flavor that becomes the kick in the soup.

Then I add the dashi stock (minus the shiitake mushrooms and kombu seaweed).

I then add onion skin and dried carrot peels to the stock. Both onion skin and carrot peels usually get thrown away in the cooking process, but I dry and keep them as they produce wonderful vegetable stock.

After cooking the soup on low heat for 1 hour…

Remove all the vegetables and strain the soup. Finally, right before serving, warm up the soup and add soy sauce to taste. After you add the soy sauce, be careful not to “cook” the soup again as the flavor of soy sauce gets spoiled when overheated.

Now, the noodles… In Japan, “raw” or fresh ramen noodles are readily available at supermarkets, but it is extremely hard to find ramen noodles that are vegan! Almost all of them contain eggs (look for the word “卵” in ingredients – 原材料 – on the back), so I was super happy when I finally found noodles that didn’t have eggs at one store.

As they are fresh, you only need to cook them in boiling water for one minute then drain. Don’t add salt to boiling water like you would for cooking pasta as the ramen noodles already contain salt. And don’t rinse the noodles after cooking like you would for cooking soba noodles.

What goes on top of ramen is totally up to you! For this shoyu ramen, I decided to put vegetable stir-fry and spicy miso flavored crumbles.

For vegetable stir-fry:

Julienne carrots and celory. Rinse and drain bean sprouts.

Heat rice bran oil (or olive oil or canola oil) and stir-fry carrots. Once carrots are half cooked, add celery. Stir and add salt & pepper to taste.

Add bean sprouts and immediately close the lid. Steam for few minutes.

Make a “well” in the middle and add soy sauce. Cook the soy sauce a bit and stir well. Set aside.

For spicy miso flavored crumbles:

This is normally made with minced chicken, but I’m using okara konjac (minced in blender or food processor). If you can’t get okara konjac, you can also use minced-type soy meat or drained and crumbled extra firm tofu.

Mince garlic and ginger.

Mix 1 tbs shoyu-koji (or soy sauce), 1 tbs miso, 1/2 tsp chili bean paste and (1 tbs water – only if you are using soy sauce instead of shoyu koji).

In a pan, fry minced garlic and ginger with sesame oil, then add minced okara konjac. After okara konjac is well coated with oil, add a tsp of cooking wine (sake) and stir. Make a “well” in the middle and add the sauce mixture. Stir well. Set aside.

It’s time to assemble the ramen!

In a bowl, place cooked noodles, add the soup and top it with vegetable stir-fry and spicy miso crumbles.

This ramen tasted really, really good! It had big flavors with different textures (from two toppings) and was very satisfying. People consider ramen as a delicious BUT unhealthy dish because of all the animal fat that goes into it. This vegan version is not only light and easy on the stomach but also super healthy and nutritious:)

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