It's All About the Broth
Is it terrible to admit that the original inspiration for this dish was something that would look good on Instagram? But let’s be honest, that’s the world we live in. In my search for a new recipe to play around with that would garner me those coveted likes and followers, I inadvertently stumbled across a new favourite dish. It’s so satisfying to eat, and essential as a warming winter meal for those of us wanting to keep our raw food intake up over the colder months.
Ramen is really all about the broth; after that, the possibilities are endless. Luckily, the broth is really easy to do, and provides the base for a million different delicious (and photogenic) spin-offs.
A blender and a spiraliser
Firstly, decide what the constituents of your ramen will be today. Obviously noodles are the primary component. I think that zucchini noodles work better than kelp noodles as they are thicker and soak up the broth better, but I use both. If you’re using zucchini, one zucchini makes two servings. If you’re using kelp noodles, one bag also makes two servings. Spiralise the zucchini, cut it up with scissors a little, and put it to one side ready to use. If kelp noodles is your preference today, rinse them well in warm water, cut them with scissors, and marinade in the juice of 1 lemon and 1 tbsp tamari to soften while you prep the rest of the meal.
Alongside the noodles, I favour two or three extra ingredients, but you can really use as many as you can fit in your bowl! I love Kimchi, also sometimes I use sauerkraut. Seaweed wise, nori sheets are good if you cut them into thin strips (1/2 sheet per person). If I’m using wakame, I favour the Icelandic wakame, or I love the Clearspring Japanese sea salad. I soak the whole bag, and then use some in my ramen, and keep some to put in a salad or a Korean dish another day. Shiitake mushrooms are wonderful if you just marinade them in a little tamari and sesame oil before you use them, or if you haven’t got Shiitake I also use Portobello or button mushrooms. If you want to get some greens in, I just take a handful of baby spinach leaves, or baby pak choi is really pretty if you slice it in half down the middle. For “beef,” I take strips of coconut meat and marinade them in tamari for a little while.
As for the boiled egg, this started really for aesthetic purposes, but as we all know, any excuse to eat an avocado! And the creaminess and meatiness of it works really well in this dish. I slice an avocado in half, and remove the pit and the skin. Then to make the “yolk,” you need tahini and turmeric powder. My favourite recipe is 1 T tahini, 1T hemp oil, 1 tsp miso paste, ½ tsp mustard, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, pinch of Himalayan black salt (Kala Namak), and water to mix. But it doesn’t really matter what you choose to use as a base, as long as you add the turmeric in to give it the right colour.
So once you’ve decided what you’re adding in and prepped it all, now it’s time to make your broth. Deseed the chilli carefully (and wash your hands with hot soapy water afterwards!). Peel the garlic clove. Put everything in the blender together: chilli, ginger, garlic, sugar, miso, tamari, and rice vinegar. If I’m doing Korean I may add Korean chilli flakes as well. Often I add a spoon of creamed coconut to make a creamy version. I found a Burmese version, which used creamed coconut and turmeric, that was pretty awesome. Heat the water in the kettle; I use a temperature control kettle that means the water doesn’t reach boiling point, I would say 80 deg C or 180 F is around optimum. If your water boils, I would let it cool a little first before you use it, so it’s not too hot to the touch. When you’re ready, add the water to the jug, and give it all a good whizz together. Make sure all the chilli and garlic are blended up well.
Pour out the broth into two bowls; wide shallow bowls are best in order to show off the constituent ingredients or everything can get over-crowded. Take your noodles and place them in the broth. Place the accompanying ingredients alongside the noodles; the fermented vegetables, the greens, the mushrooms, “egg,” “beef,” whatever you are using. Drip sesame oil over the top so it makes pretty bubbles in the broth. Serve immediately while it’s warm.