The past few months I have been going out of my comfort zone and playing around with a Vegan Ramen. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking: “Ugh vegan ramen, it can’t be that good”. To be honest, I was once like that too. The word “vegan” was a turn off, however I was only exposed to vegan dishes trying to be something that it is not. I have seen dry vegetable/nut logs that are supposed to imitate a hot dog to jack fruit that is supposed to emulate meat, and even the infamous “Tofurkey”. When cooks are so focused in turning an ingredient into something that it is not, often they lose track of what makes that ingredient so special. When cooking we need to elevate the ingredient for what it is.
So how do we make a vegan ramen? I can almost guarantee that the majority of the shops that serve a vegetarian/vegan ramen is a miso based. Miso is a wonderful ingredient that is packed full of umami without a trace of an animal product in sight. It is a no brainer to use, but there are plenty of other ways to go about it.
Besides miso, what can we do? Nuts. Nuts are where it is at. It not only packs a meaty flavor, but it provides body that can emulate the creaminess of the ever most popular tonkotsu ramen. To bolster the flavors, mushroom naturally lends itself to a vegan ramen. Combining a creamy nut milk and mushrooms, you get a savory cream of mushroom like broth good enough to turn mushroom haters into lovers.
This vegan ramen recipe is one that I developed and served for my collaborative popup with Kukie’s Slurp Shack in Portland. Like me, Steven from Kukie’s is a ramen lover who does popups in his free time. I felt so hip serving ramen in a coffee shop with a custom can of locally brewed beer. It was such a blast.
Vegan Mushroom Paitan Ramen
150 g of Cremini Mushrooms
140 g of an onions (about ½ of an medium onion)
10 g of ginger
6 cloves of garlic
15 g of Konbu
50 g of Carrot
10 g of dried porcini
5 g of dried shiitake mushrooms
1000 mL of water
Soak dried mushrooms and konbu in the water overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. Add to a stock pot and bring the water up to 140 degree F or right before tiny bubbles start to form. Turn off heat and after 10 minutes remove konbu.
Dice the cremini mushrooms into thin slices and saute in a pan until browned. We are looking to develop nice maillard flavors. Deglaze the pan with some of the liquid in the stock pot to remove any of the brown tasty bits that may have stuck to the pan and pour back into a stock pot. Add the remaining ingredients and heat for 45 minutes at a low simmer. At this point your liquid should be a deep brown color. Strain the ingredients and press the ingredients to try and extract as much liquid as you can. Reserve the liquid until you are ready to assemble your bowl. If you want you can take out the mushrooms and saute with some soy sauce and sake for a little snack or as a topping.
50 g of cashews
5 g of konbu
450 mL water
This nut milk is very easy, but requires a powerful blender to get a creamy result. Combine cashews, water, and konbu and soak overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours. Remove the konbu and pour the water and cashews into a blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes and reserve. A Vitamix will make your life easy. A high power blender will turn this into a uniform thickness otherwise you will need a nut milk bag to strain out the solids which is a huge pain.
If you want you can try other types of nuts. I like pecans and almonds. Unfortunately they do not emulsify into the water as easily as cashews and require a nut milk bag to strain the solids out.
Keep the mushroom stock and nut milk separate until you are ready to assembly your bowls. If you are preparing the broth in advanced, store them separately in the fridge or cool them separately before combining. It is possible for this stock to ferment in the fridge if its too warm and will impart a sour taste. Learn from my mistakes.
20 g of salt
80 g of white wine
40 g of sake
40 g of mirin
65 g of water
2 g of MSG
25 g of white soy sauce (regular soy sauce can be used instead, but it will darken the broth)
5 g of rice wine vinegar
Combine white wine, sake, and mirin into a sauce pan. Heat the pan on high to bring the liquid to a boil to boil out the alcohol. This will take about 3-5 minutes. You will know when it is done when you take a whiff and the fumes doesn’t punch you in the face… it is a hard feeling to describe. If you can’t tell, stop after 5 minutes.
Combine the remaining liquids and stir to combine.
Trumpet or Maiitake Mushrooms
The toppings are very simple. Arugula gives a pepper hit to the rich and creamy broth. The diced red onions cuts through that the “thicc” broth. Chives provide a well rounded sweetness and looks absolutely beautiful. For the mushrooms, you will want to cut them into pieces that can be eaten in one or two bites. Sear them with olive oil, salt, minced garlic and pepper until they have a nice brown crust.
If you have meat lovers, beef goes great with this ramen. I suggest some tritip seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar.
Grab your favorite ramen noodle for your bowl. I like a thicker noodle with high hydration (40%+) for that extra chew.
1 finely sliced shallot - We want long strips
6 cloves of garlic sliced
1/2 cup of neutral oil
Place sliced shallot and garlic into a small pot with just enough oil to cover everything (about ½ cup). Heat the oil until it bubbles, but keep the temperature as low as possible. We want to give the oil a change to absorb as much of the flavor as possible from the aromatics. When the garlic and shallots begin to develop a tan color, remove from the oil. The carry over heat heat will continue to brown these ingredients. Set aside as a crunchy topping for your ramen.
Assembling the bowl:
300 g of broth (mushroom stock and nut milk combined)
45 mL of tare (about 3 Tbsp)
15 mL of aroma oil (1 Tbsp)
A pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1 serving of noodles
Toppings: Arugula, Red Onions, Chives, and Mushrooms
If you have been wanted to get into making ramen from scratch, this is the perfect recipe for you to try. Because this is vegetable based, you only need about 45 minutes to extract all the flavor from your ingredients versus the 6-12 hours for meat based broth. For those of you who are short on time, you have no excuse now!