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!