A few months ago I went through a huge ramen phase. My love for anything warm and filled with noodles led me down that path. I learned about the cult worship ramen has in Japan, the different types and then started doctoring up my store bought noodles with veggies and proteins. When that proved to be easy, I went to Seattle’s best ramen restaurant in the central district and tasted what real ramen is. The Tonkotsu ramen I had was velvety and rich, with layers of flavors. I had heard that Tonkotsu is very time consuming to make and so I took on the challenge to make my own. Can’t be that hard, right? Inevitably those words are almost always followed up with, WRONG. It isn’t so much that making ramen is hard in the difficult sense, but more so in the “this is beyond time consuming and not worth it when I can spend $8 on a bowl someone else can make for me” way. Also, never in my life have I bought so many types of pig bits, nooks and crannies. It was, to be honest, more than I could stomach. So after 8 plus hours of cooking and more parts than I was used to handling, I was barely able to eat my own creation. I decided in the end that the experience itself was worth all the effort and to leave that kind of cooking for the experts.
After taking a break from ramen, I saw this recipe and decided this is more something I could handle after my last experience. Spinach, tofu, veggies and broth make this a lighter style “ramen”. What really makes this dish though is the butter and soy sauce sauteed shitake mushrooms. They are key to getting maximum flavor and a bit of richness. I use the term “ramen” loosely because ramen is truly an art focused on great homemade broth. Also I have been using various other noodles besides actual ramen noodles. For gluten free I used rice noodles and for regular I used Shomen noodles (as pictured). Both were very good but of course the shomen noodles had better consistency. Feel free to use kale instead of spinach and whatever other vegetables you might have on hand. Cheers!
2 eggs, soft boiled
ramen, somen or rice noodles, uncooked
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
3.5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 package fried tofu, cubed (can use firm tofu as original recipe used)
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
handful of spinach, chopped
mini sweet bell peppers, sliced
green onions, sliced thin (optional)
Soft boil eggs in medium-sized saucepan filled with just enough water to almost cover the eggs. Cook for 7 minutes, remove and rinse eggs (not in hot pan) under cold water for a minute or two. Rinse pan, fill with water and return to stove. Bring water to a boil (for ramen noodles).
Add vegetable stock to large pot and add ground ginger. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes and lower heat and allow to simmer. Add tofu, carrot and celery stalk.
Sautee shiitake mushrooms in the butter and soy sauce for 5 minutes in a non-stick pan. Turn down pan to warm or set aside.
In original saucepan, add ramen noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and add noodles to bowl. Arrange bowls with spinach, mini bell peppers and egg. Pour broth with tofu and veggies on top and garnish with green onions. Serve immediately.
Recipe slightly adapted from The Little Kitchen