I feel like ramen is the new “in thing” as far as food goes. Recipes abound online and in magazines, and there are a few pretty upscale restaurants here in Milwaukee now featuring…you guessed it…endless variations of this noodle based dish. But the problem for me? Although all of the recipes I’ve seen look pretty fabulous, they all incorporate meat or poultry somehow. I was bound and determined to have myself a pretty satisfying savory bowl of meat-free ramen. But could it be done?
You won’t miss the meat here. There’s enough savory umami (love that word) from the mushroom broth, and the soft-boiled eggs add a kick of extra protein (obviously skip the eggs here for a vegan version.) The combination of the dried mushrooms, miso, and soy in the vegetable broth provide a great depth of flavoring. And instead of using chicken here, I decided to sauté some extra-firm tofu in sesame oil instead (I’m beginning to think that anything cooked in sesame oil is delicious.)
This has to be one of my favorite vegetarian dishes to date, and I hope you like it, too.
P.S. Happy birthday to my Dad (and his identical twin)!
Vegetarian Ramen Noodle Bowl
4 cups boiling water
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 tablespoons red miso (or whatever kind of miso you prefer)
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces udon noodles (or ramen noodles, if you can find them-I couldn’t.)
1 and 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (any variety), sliced
8 ounces extra-firm tofu, sliced (make the pieces as big or small as you like-I like mine thinly sliced)
3 large eggs, soft boiled (or cooked to whatever consistency you desire. A fried egg would be great here, too.)
3-4 scallions, sliced
1. In a medium bowl, combine the 4 cups of boiling water and the dried porcini mushrooms; let stand 15 minutes.
2. Drain the mushrooms through a sieve over a bowl; reserve both the porcini and soaking liquid. Once the mushrooms have cooled a bit, slice them and set them aside.
3. In a Dutch oven or a large sauce pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
4. Add the onion and carrot; sauté 2 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the miso and tamari/soy sauce.
6. Add the miso mixture, porcini liquid, vegetable broth, garlic, and ginger to the pan; bring to a boil.
7. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
8. Carefully strain the broth through a sieve over a bowl, discarding the solids.
9. Return the broth to the pan over medium heat and bring it to a boil.
10. Add the noodles; cook 8 minutes or until tender (or whatever the instructions on your package say). Remove the broth from the heat.
11. Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
12. Add the fresh mushrooms; sauté for 8 minutes or so until the mushrooms have let off a lot of their liquid.
13. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, combining the sliced porcini and fresh mushrooms in a separate bowl.
14. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil to pan; swirl.
15. Add the tofu, cooking it until it is crispy and golden, flipping the pieces over to ensure even cooking. This took about 5-8 minutes total or so for me.
16. Divide the noodle mixture among your serving bowls; top each serving with your desired amounts of mushrooms, eggs, tofu, and scallions. Enjoy.