A recipe to fuel my Japanese obsession – homemade vegetarian ramen bowls filled with tofu, mushrooms, bok choy and miso! Easy to make and gluten free.
As I’m sure you can tell from the series of posts from my trip to Japan, I’m absolutely enamored with Japanese culture. Everything from the style to food to people – it’s so different from any place I’ve ever visited. Ramen is. I ate it every day while I was in Tokyo (you can read all about it in my Tokyo Food Guide). It’s my ultimate comfort food and something I crave when I’ve gone too long without it.
My interest in Japan started long before this trip though. My dad is an educator and a Fulbright Scholar and did a few exchange trips with other international educators when I was in middle school. Throughout the years, we had several people from Japan stay with us. At that time, I was living in the country in a small town in Wisconsin, so it was very exciting to have a foreign visitor.
Our community was pretty isolated and we didn’t get much for diversity – even visitors from out-of-state for that matter! The other 40 people in my class (that’s right, my graduating class was 41 people!) looked pretty much like me. I loved to read and spent a lot of time reading about faraway places and foreign cultures, but to actually experience it was another story.
Luckily, my dad understood the importance of exposing us to different cultures and set up these exchanges. Looking back, I remember the first time one of our visitors cooked us a traditional Japanese meal. I couldn’t believe all the strange-smelling packets of spices. Then I saw the dried seaweed and I just couldn’t believe it! People actually ate that stinky dried green stuff? On purpose?! I remember trying to keep an open mind, but it definitely was far outside my 5th grade comfort zone.
Fast-forward almost 20 years later and I am living in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. There are literally five Japanese restaurants within a mile from our home. I think nothing of stopping on the way home from work to grab some sushi. Heck, I even buy sushi at the grocery store if I have a craving and am feeling exceptionally lazy. Japanese culture is all around me.
Pat and I love to cook at home, and making ramen is such a treat! Make no mistake though, this isn’t your little brother’s dorm room ramen recipe. This is a start-to-finish made from scratch version that is definitely a little involved but worth every bit of work for the salty umami-ness (yes, I know I made that up) of it.
One more thing – did you notice my fancy new knife? I was so envious of the gorgeous knives that all the sushi chefs had in Japan, I knew it was time to invest in a nice one for us to use at home. Kamikoto specializes in high quality Niigata steel Japanese knives. After much deliberation, I knew they were the right choice for this investment. We’ll have this exceptional knife for a lifetime. Using it is truly a pleasure – it’s beautiful and each cut is perfectly balanced. Click here see the process by which these amazing knives are made by hand.Print
Homemade Vegetarian Ramen Bowls Recipe
A recipe to fuel my Japanese obsession – homemade vegetarian ramen bowls filled with bamboo, mushrooms, bok choy and miso! Easy to make and gluten free.
- Yield: 4-6
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Japanese
For the Sesame Tare:
- 3/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup chili oil
- 1/2 cup sesame paste or peanut butter
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
For the Broth:
- 8 cup boiling water
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 tablespoon of miso (I used red)
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
For the bamboo:
- 200 grams canned and drained bamboo
- 1 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch or two of chili flakes, to taste
For the tofu:
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the fixings:
- 8 ounces ramen noodles (in a pinch, you can buy the easy Maruchan kind and discard the spice packet)
- 4 large eggs
- 3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
- Handful of bean sprouts, blanched
- 4-6 baby bok choy, sliced in half and blanched
Make the sesame tare:
- Combine the sesame seeds, soy sauce or tamari, sugar, chili oil, sesame paste or peanut butter, ginger and spring onion in a food processor and process until smooth.
Make the Broth:
- In large bowl, combine the boiling water and the dried mushrooms and let soak 15 minutes. Strain the mushrooms through a sieve. Reserve both the soaking water and the porcini, slice once cool.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, sauté 2 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the miso and soy sauce (or tamari if you’re gluten free).
- Add the miso mixture, mushroom liquid, veggie broth, garlic, and ginger to your veggies and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain the broth over a bowl to remove the solids and discard them. Return to pain over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Make the bamboo:
- In a skillet, heat 1 tsp. sesame oil over medium and stir-fry the bamboo until dry. Add the soy sauce, sugar and chili flakes and cook until dry. Watch carefully as they will burn quickly!
Make the tofu:
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook until crispy and golden. Flip to ensure even cooking, about 5-8 minutes total.
Soft boil the eggs:
- Heat a medium sized saucepan to a rolling boil. Use a slotted spoon to gently place the eggs in the water. Cook for 5-6 minutes and immediately transfer to a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking. Let cool until they are able to be handled and peel.
Assemble the ramen:
- Before you begin, have everything laid out so you can work quickly. Have the pot of broth warm on the stove.
- Heat a large pot of water to boiling and cook the ramen according to package direction or until tender (about 8 minutes). Drain and remove from heat.
- Divy up broth between your serving bowls and equally divide the sesame tare between them. Whisk to combine. Add the cooked ramen. Top each bowl with mushrooms, soft-boiled eggs, bamboo shoots, tofu, and green onions.
Since this meal has several steps, you can prepare it over two days. You can make the sesame tare and broth ahead of time and keep them in the fridge overnight.
Note: this post is an updated from that was originally published in April 2014. Want to see what my photos looked like three years ago? Here’s one: