When you read the word ramen, do you picture a dehydrated noodle block with a packet full of msg? Yeah, me too. Until recently, that is. Ramen shops have been popping up all over the place and the steaming bowls of savory broth and slurp-worthy noodles they serve up are a far cry from the 20 cent stuff. If you like al dente pasta, you’ll probably love fresh ramen noodles – they’re springy and chewy and fun to eat, since you’re supposed to be noisy. Drop them into some homemade broth and you’ll have the most immensely satisfying one-bowl meal you never knew you could make from scratch.
This ramen bowl is vegan (if you take away the egg on top), but you’d never know it. Vegetable broth has a reputation for being thin and flavorless but I’m here to tell you that when you put the right things in it, it’s anything but! I simmered shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, ginger and some seasonings for about five hours, so the stock had plenty of time to soak up the hearty, spicy and umami flavors the ingredients have to offer.
Since I gave the flavors plenty of time to meld together, the resulting broth was rich, complex and satisfyingly salty – the perfect backdrop for the noodles, which don’t have much flavor on their own. Now, about the noodles. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making my own noodles of any kind. It seemed like a delicate process that might take years to master. Then the kind folks at Marcato sent me one of their pasta makers, and I found out that it’s not difficult at all – it just takes time. It’s not a 20 minute weeknight dinner, but give it a try on a weekend – I promise it’s worth it!
Easy Vegetarian Ramen from Scratch
For the broth
- 1 oz. dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
- 1 medium onions sliced into quarters
- 4-5 cloves garlic smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
- 2 heaping Tbsp fresh ginger peeled and sliced 1/4 in. thick
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- 2 heaping Tbsp. red miso paste
- 6-8 cups water
For the noodles (adapted from the New York Times)
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour + more for rolling out the dough
- 2 tsp baked soda see instructions below
- 1/2 cup water
- Roasted seaweed
- Fresh shiitake mushrooms
Preheat oven to 250º F. Prepare your baked soda by spreading an even layer of baking soda on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for one hour, and save any excess baked soda in a sealed container for next time.
Meanwhile, combine all the broth ingredients but the miso paste in a stockpot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and put a lid on, leaving just a crack uncovered. Simmer 3-5 hours, stirring in the miso paste when you plan to simmer for one more hour.
To make the noodles, dissolve the baked soda in the water in a mixing bowl. Add the flour and work into a dough and knead 6-8 minutes. It may be crumbly at first, but should become more workable and elastic with kneading. If necessary, add water a tsp at a time to incorporate all the flour. Refrigerate one hour in plastic wrap.
Knead the chilled dough another minute or two, then cut into four pieces. Roll out the dough a piece at a time in a pasta machine, starting with the widest setting and stopping once you've passed the dough through half of the width settings. Dust the dough regularly with flour so it moves smoothly through the machine. Process the rolled out dough through a thin cutting setting on your machine.
Strain the broth through a mesh sieve and discard vegetables. Heat to serving temperature.
Boil noodles for two minutes, rinse in cold water and drain. Serve immediately in hot broth. Top as desired – I topped mine with pan fried shiitake mushrooms, slivered scallions, shredded seaweed and seven-minute soft boiled eggs.
Next time I make ramen, I might try making the broth in a slow cooker so I don’t have to stay near the stove all afternoon. If I were to make the dough the night before, the day-of hands on time would actually be minimal! Maybe this is a weeknight recipe after all…! If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think.