Ramen has always intimidated me as a cook. Nevermind the fact that most ramen soups have a pork or fish base – when a recipe includes multiple bulk ethnic ingredients (a bottle of a sauce or vinegar that I’ll never use again) I immediately shut down.
I should probably be careful throwing around the term ramen, because in the process of making this recipe healthy and convenient, it’s very possible I eliminated most of the defining ramen ingredients. But it’s 2015 – the age of acceptance – so all you need to know is that I took an often intimidating recipe and boiled it down to some non-scary ingredients. Anyways, sometimes a twist on a traditional dish can make it better, and in this case it was the lightest, most flavorful ramen I have ever tasted. The soba noodles came out of convenience – I had a box in the pantry – but ended up adding the most incredible earthy, hearty flavor. Bonus? I didn’t wake up feeling like my face was swollen from sodium.
I’d also like to mention that this recipe comes with a fair amount of “eyeballing”. I was with one of my friends and we were catching up while simultaneously plopping in a bit of this and a bit of that. I did my best to record what was used but please understand that unless you accidentally pour in an entire jar of one ingredient, you can’t really mess this one up. This recipe made three large servings.
3.5 cups of vegetable broth
9 – 10 oz of soba noodles
8-12 oz of mushrooms (I used an 8 oz box of white mushrooms and added in a package of mixed wild mushrooms)
3-4 heads of bok choy
2 tbsp of scallions, chopped
1 package of tofu
1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil
1-2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
3/4 cup of canned coconut milk
Optional toppings or flavor enhancers: fresh sliced jalapenos, chopped purple cabbage, hot chili oil, Sriracha
Clean all of your vegetables and chop up the mushrooms and bok choy. Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, then add in the bok choy, scallions, and mushrooms.
Saute for about 8-10 minutes, or until the items have reduced in size by about 50%.
In a large pot, add all of the sauteed veggies and turn on low heat. Add in the vegetable broth, soy sauce, sesame oil, and coconut milk. Simmer on very low heat and stir.
Slice up your tofu into bite-sized pieces. Using a saute pan – the same as before if you’d like – add a touch of olive oil and the tablespoon of hoisin sauce (this isn’t necessary – you could also use duck sauce or soy sauce) and all of your tofu. Saute on medium heat, stirring often, until the tofu has browned on the edges.
Add into the big pot of broth.
Lastly, turn the broth up until boiling and add in your soba noodles. Stir occasionally and, when the noodles have softened, reduce the heat to a simmer and serve.
Top with Sriracha, jalapenos, hot oil and cabbage as desired. Enjoy!