This ramen is lighter than the traditional bowl of Japanese ramen, and vegetarian. It may be lighter, but it’s not light on flavor. The soup is made with a mushroom stock and is full of sauteed crimini mushrooms and garlic to go along with the slightly chewy noodles.
Yields: 3 to 4 servings
8 small dried shiitake mushrooms
8 square inches dried kombu (optional)
4 ½ cups water
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
6 – 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes (to suit your tastes)
1 ½ tablespoons shiro miso (white miso paste)
1 ½ tablespoons aka miso (red miso paste)
10 ounces dried ramen noodles (aka, chukka soba), freshly cooked
Fresh cilantro leaves, to garnish
Make the mushroom stock: Place the dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu a pot with the water. Bring the water almost to a boil and then turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the stock stand for 3 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and set the stock aside.
Make the soup: Heat 3 teaspoons of the toasted sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the sliced cremini mushrooms and cook for about 20 seconds. Drizzle in the remaining 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, then add the finely chopped garlic and crushed red chili flakes, and stir-fry for another 20 seconds.
Pour the mushroom stock through a fine-mesh strainer held directly over the pan. (Discard the solids left in the strainer.) Adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer, and separate the cooked noodles into 3 or 4 bowls.
Place the shiro miso and aka miso in a small bowl and ladle some of the hot stock from the pan into the bowl. Whisk the miso pastes and broth together until smooth, then add to the simmering stock in the pan.
Turn off the heat, then ladle the broth over the noodles in each bowl. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
Recipe Note: This recipe uses a vegetarian mushroom stock made from dried shiitake mushrooms and kombu, a thick kelp used extensively in Japanese cooking for adding extra flavor to dishes. Paired with the dried shiitake mushrooms, it adds a bit of extra oomph to the stock. If you don’t have any kombu, don’t worry, the stock is still delicious when made with just the dried shiitake mushrooms! The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of crushed red chili flakes. This is so that you can adjust the recipe to suit your tastes. If you don’t like a lot of heat, only use 1 teaspoon. If you like things nice and spicy like me, add the full tablespoon!