A plain bowl of ramen is like a plain pizza–settling for plain wouldn’t necessarily be the worst, but if you could quite simply make it infinitely better, why wouldn’t you?
Achieving mouth-watering vegan ramen is actually extremely easy. And not only can you tack on serious deliciousness points by giving your ramen a little extra love, you can also elevate it from being a pile of empty calories to a seriously nourishing bowl of plant-based fibre and protein.
So what’s the secret? Well, there a a ton of different ingredients you could throw in a vegan ramen to make it more exciting, but not just any old thing but the kitchen sink will do to create a memorable bowl.
So what’s involved in building a great bowl of vegan ramen?
One great way to thicken up a vegan ramen is to opt for a miso-based broth, which more closely resembles the pork broth you’ve tried at ramen restaurants than the packaged broth they give you in the ramen package. Simmer your broth with vegetables for a few hours, mix in miso paste, then finish with a few drops of chili and garlic oil before serving, and you’ve got yourself a rich and flavourful broth worth bragging about!
Or try: Coconut milk, miso, lime juice, sriracha, sesame oil, soy sauce, or nori.
You might want to check out the ingredients list of packaged ramen noodles, as they can sometimes contain egg. However, rice and soba noodles will typically be vegan, and also offer a gluten-free option, with soba noodles containing a bonus fibre content.
Options: Regular ramen noodles, udon, rice noodles, or soba noodles.
It’s really anyone’s game when it comes to veggies. The key for harder vegetables like carrots, cabbage or zucchini is to slice thinly. Cutting your vegetable this way will make them absorb the flavours of the broth more easily, and will also make them easier to grab with chopsticks.
Try: Thinly sliced garlic and ginger, bean sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, roasted yam, broccoli florets, chopped green onion, canned corn, kale, or baby spinach.
There are a slew of vegan protein options you can choose from, but I would personally vouch that crispy, pan-fried tofu is the ultimate addition to vegan ramen. The tofu will absorb the flavours it’s sitting in, and it’s a serious protein boost to your meal. Just cut your tofu into bite sized pieces, and fry in grapeseed oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side.
Or try: Seitan, tempeh, lentils, toasted sesame seeds, or shelled edamame.
Adding a little crunch with the toppings will turn an already great bowl of ramen into a literal work of art–and you can Instagram that. Add your toppings at the last stage of ramen preparation, and make sure you give yourself a little pat on the back before digging in.
Or try: Green onion, fried shallots, crushed peanuts or sesame seeds.
Okay, okay. I know the list is a little overwhelming, but once you start making your own ramen regularly, flavour combinations are going to start just coming to you. In the meantime, give it a try risk-free with this recipe for an Easy Vegan Miso Ramen.
Easy Vegan Miso Ramen
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 ounce of dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp white or yellow miso paste
- 1 tsp sesame oil, plus more for flavour
- 8 ounces ramen noodles
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions, for garnish
- 10 ounces extra firm tofu, fried
- 1 cup carrots
- Baby bok-choy
- Over medium-high heat, heat a large stock pot. Heat one tablespoon of grapeseed oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Saute for 5-8 minutes, or until onions become fragrant and slightly browned at the edges.
- Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth, and use a spatula to deglaze the bottom of the pan (this will enhance the flavour of the broth).
- Add the remaining 5 cups of broth, tamari or soy sauce, and dehydrated mushrooms to the pot.
- Turn heat up to medium, and bring broth to a simmer, then reduce to low and cover. Keep simmering and covered for 1-3 hours (the longer you simmer, the stronger the flavour will be).
- Taste broth, adjusting seasonings if necessary. Add 1 tbsp miso paste.
- While you’re waiting for broth to finish simmering, use a knife or vegetable peeler to slice carrots into very thin almost noodle-y strips. Set aside.
- Prepare fried tofu. Press extra firm tofu until as much moisture as possible is removed, then slice into bite sized pieces, and place into a plastic bag. Add a generous tbsp cornstarch and a pinch of salt and pepper to the bag, and toss everything together to coat tofu. Heat a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp sesame oil. Brown on one side for 4-5 minutes, then flip. Turn off heat, and set aside.
- Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Drain simmering broth, reserve mushrooms for serving.
- To serve, divide ramen noodles between 4 serving bowls. Add broth to each bowl, and top with carrots, bok choy, green onions, and seared tofu.
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What’s your favourite way to dress up ramen? Share with us your own recipes in the comments!