Ramen, the Real Deal
|(above two photos) For dinner at Cafe Drake HRV our ramen bowl included broiled tofu, red chilies, chives and sorrel from the garden and pickled mushrooms.|
|A less spicy lunch the following day was reheated ramen and broth with the addition of stir-fried bok choy minus the chilies.|
In case you didn't already know, the success of any ramen bowl is dependent upon the flavorful broth that plays the starring role. In Japan traditional broths would be made from pork; the lengthy process involves roasting bones and fatty cuts of meat along with aromatic veggies. You can create complex and earthy flavors however from a vegetarian broth based around mushrooms and umami-enhancing kombu seaweed. So let's begin there.
In a large pot bring to a boil 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, a three-inch piece of kombu seaweed and a handful of dried shitake mushrooms. Kombu is a dried seaweed available at all Asian markets and natural foods stores, valued for boosting the flavor of many broth-based Japanese dishes, but you can leave it out if you wish. Once the broth is boiling, reduce heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside for an hour or two and allow the mushrooms and kombu (if using) to infuse the stock.
With a slotted spoon remove and discard the kombu. Remove as well the mushrooms. Chop finely the soft bits, tossing away the tough, woody stems. (They've done their job of enriching the broth by now.) Place the chopped reserved mushrooms in a blender with 1 cup of the broth and puree until silky smooth. Return the puree to the stock pot along with 1 thinly sliced onion, 1-2 T. grated ginger and 3-4 T. tamari or soy sauce. Simmer over a low flame for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Now stir in 1 heaping T. of white miso paste, mixing well to dissolve.
The recipe pretty much ends here. As we said earlier, it's AATB, or All About The Broth. How you complete the ramen bowl is a wide universe of opportunity. Let your creativity and on-hand ingredients dictate the final result. Every bowl will be different we predict. Basically, assembly involves:
1) heating or re-heating the ramen broth and lading about 2 cups each into wide or deep bowls
2) placing cooked ramen noodles, prepared according to package directions, in each bowl (Allow around 3-4 oz. dried ramen noodles per serving.)
3) adding toppings of choice.
Tried and true garnishes might include slivered scallions, minced chives, a dollop of horseradish or Chinese mustard, shredded shiso leaves, diced radishes or toasted sesame seeds.
Leftover noodles and broth should be stores separately in the refrigerator. Rub any cooked noodles with a drop of vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
Note: If you'd like to crown your own ramen bowl with broiled tofu, as seen above, scoop our recipe from the Cafe Drake HRV archives RIGHT HERE.