After visiting Japan in 2017, I came back a total food snob.
One thing I learned about Japanese food is that chefs there are almost obsessive about perfecting their specialty dish is. Many restaurants specialize in just one thing, whether it’s yakitori, sushi, soba noodles or ramen.
So when I came back home, to our grocery store sushi and greasy hibachi, I just…couldn’t. Okay, that’s a lie because some weeks I basically live off grocery store sushi. But I know that it’s absolutely nothing like a slice of fatty toro over perfectly cooked and dressed sushi rice, and I feel really sad about that.
With many other cuisines, I feel like I can recreate some of my favorite dishes at home to a satisfactory degree. But with Japanese food, now that I’ve tried handmade buckwheat soba noodles with an umami rich dipping broth and bowls of seafood donburi piled high with uni, I’m just not even trying.
The one exception is ramen, because as I learned in Japan, there are no rules when it comes to ramen. And also, I still love cheap packaged ramen, so even though a creamy bowl of tonkatsu ramen is a whole new level, I’m also perfectly satisfied with it’s lesser renditions. But I’m not gonna spend 24 hours making a broth. Instead, I’m going to spend like 30-45 minutes making this vegetarian ramen noodle soup with shiitakes and bok choy.
With ramen, it’s all about the broth. Most ramen broths are made by simmering bones for a really long time until the gelatin, marrow and even calcium melt out. It makes a silky, almost creamy, and richly flavored broth. For this vegetarian ramen, I pureed sauteed onions, garlic and ginger into a vegetable broth to give it a thicker, creamier mouthfeel. I also used the liquid from rehydrating dried shiitake mushrooms to add a bit of umami, plus a bit of soy sauce and miso to flavor it up.
Kimchi isn’t a traditional addition, but again, with ramen there are no rules. I love the bit of spice and pickled flavor it adds, and my belly loves the probiotic boost.
Ramen noodles can be a little hard to find - it’s hit or miss at the grocery stores I usually shop at. So I’ve definitely made this before by cooking the noodles from four individual packets of ramen. I’m really into Lotus Foods ramen, which is made with whole grains.
If you’d like to add a little more protein to this vegetarian ramen, feel free to add tofu or edamame. Or, because no rules here, and it doesn’t have to stay vegetarian, feel free to add chicken.
This recipe was originally published April 2015. Images and text have been updated to give you the best possible content!
Vegetarian Ramen Soup with Shiitakes and Bok Choy
2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons neutral flavored oil, like canola or avocado
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon miso paste
12 ounces ramen
2 baby bok choys, quartered
1/2 cup kimchi
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add eggs and cook 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 9 minutes for hard cooked eggs. Drain and cool eggs in a bowl of ice water, then peel.
Rehydrate mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water.
Heat oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic with a pinch of salt and saute until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add vegetable broth, broth from rehydrated mushrooms, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree broth and stir in soy sauce and miso paste. Season with salt to taste. Add bok choy and rehydrated mushrooms and simmer 5 minutes until bok choy is crisp tender.
While the broth is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook ramen noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside until ready to eat.
When ready to eat, divide noodles between bowls. Ladle in broth and top with bok choy and mushrooms. Garnish with kimchi and boiled egg.
Vegetarian ramen noodle soup with shiitakes and bok choy! Packed with tons of flavor thanks to a special trick to make a rich broth! #ramen #vegetarian #vegan #soup #noodle #healthyrecipe
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