Ramen is one of those foods that I found myself enjoying throughout my entire life. The ramen of my childhood was usually some combination of a cup or packet of noodles and chemical packet with limited creativity on my part other than heating and enjoying. As an adult, I have realized the limitless possibilities of making an amazing bowl of ramen. From pork and chicken to roasted veggies to various spices and oils to the perfect ramen egg, there are so many delicious ways to amp up your ramen.
There is a ramen restaurant just a few blocks away from me that, I’ll admit, I became somewhat obsessed with. Every night for dinner, I would crave it. While I am not above eating ramen for dinner every night, I would rather not spend the money on a gourmet bowl of ramen every night. So I did a little research and developed a good alternative to my take-out addiction.
My first thought was that I was stuck with the ramen packets of my childhood or a store bought miso packet that I could add warm water and noodles to.
As a dietitian, I also have become somewhat “woke” to different ingredients in the classic processed instant ramen products of my youth. One ingredient being Tertiary butylhydroquinone (or, TBHQ for short). Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a great resource for checking the safety of food additives and preservatives. They recommend avoiding TBHQ due to it’s link to tumors in rats. There have also been reports of visual disturbances.
Miso (and my favorite, miso soup) is a very healthy food, since the miso paste used contains beneficial bacteria. To make miso soup, or a miso broth, an ingredient called Katsuobushi (a dried, fermented, skipjack tuna) is used, making it not suitable for vegetarians. Sometimes, this ingredient is called “bonito flakes” or a bonito flavoring powder is used, which likely contains Monosodium Glutimate (MSG – which can cause headaches, nausea and a burning sensation in some people). This combination of ingredients means that vegetarians and/or those with an MSG sensitivity are out, especially with most commercially packaged miso soup mixes. In our recipe, we make our own dashi broth from KELP (Kombu) and DRIED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, making it a great choice for vegetarians. Since we are using whole foods and no preservatives, it’s also a great choice for people with MSG sensitivity (or other type of sensitivity to preservatives and additives).
We are using a DASHI BROTH instead of a chicken broth for this ramen. The dashi broth takes a little while to prepare, but is mostly hands off (and absolutely worth it for a more authentic flavor!). The secret is letting the kombu steep for as long as possible (20 minutes to overnight) and heating to just below a simmer. Once the kombu boils or gets really hot, it will get slimy, which is not the texture we are going for. After the kombu is steeped (then discarded), add dried shiitake mushrooms and simmer for about 5 minutes, then turn off and let steep for 5-10 minutes.
RAMEN EGGS are a great addition to your refrigerator. They make a great snack, or a quick high protein topping anytime you want to whip up some ramen or stir fry dishes. Check out the nutrition information for eggs here. Eggs are generally low in calories and high in protein. They also one of the few dietary sources of Vitamin D, and are chock-full of other vitamins and minerals, including biotin, choline, pantothenic acid, selenium, zinc (among many others). They are super easy to make as well! Just bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add eggs carefully (slotted spoons work well) and set a timer for 7-8 minutes. 7 minutes will provide a slightly runny yolk, 8 minutes will be more firm (which is how I like mine). After they cook for 7-8 minutes, immediately place in an ice water bath. You can easily peel them by rolling them along the counter, applying enough pressure to break the shell as you go. The shell should fall off. Then place your eggs in a large zip-lock bag with 1 part mirin (sweet cooking wine. If you don’t have this, a little chardonnay and water works too), 1 part soy sauce, and 4 parts water. Put enough in the bag so the eggs are covered.
The last part I love about this recipe, is you can completely customize your vegetables and noodles. I like having cherry tomatoes, enoki mushrooms, carrots, bok choy and spinach in my veggie ramen. Experiment with your favorites! I always like to either blanche my veggies or throw them in to warm at the end of cooking. You can also change the noodles out to one of your favorites too (whole wheat, spinach, gluten free…possibilities are endless!) I shop at 99 Ranch Market for most of my ramen supplies, they have everything you could ever want (and more!)
Vegetable Miso Ramen
- Dashi Broth
- 12 Cups Water
- 3-4 Pieces of Kombu (kelp)
- 2 large handfuls of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- 1 Shallot, Diced
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, Grated
- 1 Tbsp Oil (Olive, Vegetable, etc.)
- 2 Tbsp Mirin
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Miso Paste (white or yellow)
- 1 Cup Silken Soft Tofu, cubed
- 1 large handful of shredded carrots
- 2 baby bok choy, chopped
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 Package of your favorite ramen noodles (8 servings)
- Ramen Egg
- 8 Eggs
- 1/4 Cup Mirin
- 1/4 Soy Sauce
- 1 Cup Water
- Suggested Toppings:
- Ground red chili
- Shredded nori (seaweed)
- Sesame Seeds
- Sesame Oil
- Green Onion
- What to do in advance:
- Make Dashi: Let kombu soak in water for a minimum of 20 minutes (up to overnight). In the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, turn the stove on a low heat and bring water to just below a simmer. Remove kombu from water and discard (side note – if you boil kombu for too long, it will be slimy, which is not what you want). Add two large handfuls of dried shiitake mushrooms to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce down to a simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off burner and let steep for another 5-10 minutes. At this point, you can strain Dashi broth and keep in your refrigerator until ready to make miso ramen. You can save mushrooms to put back in ramen or discard.
- Make Ramen Eggs: Bring large pot of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling, gently add large eggs to boiling water, using a spoon to gently lay eggs in the boiling water so they don’t crack. Set a timer for 7-8 minutes (7 minutes for a more runny yolk and 8 minutes for a more solid one). Once time goes off, immediately turn heat off and transfer eggs to an ice bath to stop cooking. Peel eggs and transfer to a large ziplock bag and add 1 part soy sauce, 1 part mirin and 4 parts water (enough to cover, so I generally have to use 1/4 cup of soy sauce and mirin and a cup of water). Refrigerate at least 2 hours before eating, overnight is ideal. They will keep in the fridge for a week.
- When you’re ready to eat:
- Dice shallot, grate ginger and mince garlic. In a large pot, add a little olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and shallot and cook for about 3 minutes, until starting to brown. Add Dashi broth, mirin and soy sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. (I usually err on the side of less mirin and soy sauce, and add additional as needed after miso is added back. You can easily add too much and there is no going back from that).
- Cook ramen noodles according to package directions (if they are dried noodles, they will take a little bit longer than fresh noodles).
- Chop all vegetables you plan on using for the ramen. Remove 1 cup of broth and add all the vegetables and diced tofu to the simmering broth. With the 1 cup that you removed, add miso paste and mix until combined. It is important to not boil or overcook miso, because it has beneficial bacteria that will be destroyed in high heat. Just before serving, add miso mixture back to the ramen, stir to combine. At this point, try the broth, and add additional soy sauce or mirin if you desire a more intense flavor)
- To assemble:
- Place a serving of noodles in a bowl. Slice ramen egg in half and place on top of noodles. Pour hot broth with veggies and tofu over noodles (and ramen egg, to warm up just a bit). Garnish with your favorite toppings.