March is a time of year that involves lots of birthday celebrations . Simon’s Son, Mother, Niece, and my Father, some close friends and my own too. We would usually have a few family and friends celebrations either involving a meal out , and usually involving a birthday cake or two!
New year, new decade, good intentions, goals, plans, resolutions set. There’s a lot of focus on eating, drinking and exercise. The benefits of a healthier lifestyle on physical and mental well being is important all year round however there always seems to be more interest and pressure at the start of the year to make a positive change. People are becoming interested in a more flexitarian approach to their diet and more are trying Veganuary and dry January than ever before. Whether the reasons are about positive health or reducing environmental impact on the planet or both, January always seems a good month to start!
The Christmas Holidays are synonymous with eating and drinking. This inevitably involves the fridge/ freezer and larder stocked ready to oblige. There are usually leftovers and the question of what to make with them.
“What can I make that’s easy, tasty, that everyone will eat?”
“I don’t really need to buy any more food, but what can I make with leftovers and still feel I’ve made an effort?”
During Twixtmas, the time between Christmas and New Year I made a ramen noodle soup with leftover roast turkey, turkey stock, ramen egg and veggies. Friends trying Veganuary for the first time asked me “can I come up with a recipe with ingredients easily available to make at home ?”
“Of course” I replied so here it goes…
Before sharing the recipe I need to talk about ramen noodles and soup. Tradition ramen noodles are made with wheat flour, water, salt and kansui ( a mineral based liquid/powder containing calcium & potassium carbonate). Getting a little ‘Food Techie’ the kansui is alkaline (pH higher than 7.) This is important to help with the noodle making. It enables the dough to be pulled and stretched sufficiently without tearing and breaking, making the noodles nice and thin and with the right texture, mouthfeel and ‘slurpability’ when eaten!
Traditional ramen soup broth is made using meat ( stock and pieces). A lot of the instant ramen noodle pots are not vegan or vegetarian down to the dried sachets of seasoning that are added with boiling water to make the soup.
I used a homemade vegetable stock that I already had in the freezer. You can easily use a vegetable or bouillon stock cube, powder but check that it’s vegan friendly!
You can use a variety of vegetables but I recommend spring onions, garlic, ginger, dried shiitake mushrooms, soya sauce, sesame oil as the key flavour ingredients along with the stock. The quantities and ingredients are a guide but as with any soup this is a really flexible recipe. So any vegetables work just cut the more dense, firmer vegetables smaller and heat in the stock for longer versus thin greens/ leaf veggies which don’t need much cooking!
If following a vegetarian diet you can also add a ramen egg. To make boil an egg for 6-9 minutes depending on size and how runny you like the yolk. Cool, peel and marinate the whole egg in a soy sauce & mirin mixture 2:1 ratio or ponzu for 2 hours or overnight in the fridge. Turn the egg over a couple of times to ensure an even brown colour on the outside before halving. Add to the bowl just before serving.
I’m making this recipe vegan so no egg used.
I’ve included links to some ingredients below.
Ingredients: Serves 2 for a main course
500 ml/ 1 3/4 cup of vegetable stock.
I recommend Mari Gold Vegan Bouillon powder or Kallo Vegetable stock cubes as easy options instead of homemade veggie stock.
Dried Ramen noodles ( vegan).
If you prefer a gluten free option use rice noodles. I used Barenaked Foods konjac noodles as an alternative.
2 tablespoons dried shiitake mushrooms , rehydrated in approx. 100 ml/ 3.5 fl. oz of boiling water for 20 minutes, drained, reserving the liquid.
Small piece fresh ginger ( 2cm/3/4 inch), peeled & cut into thin matchsticks
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled & finely chopped
1 small carrot peeled, halved & thinly sliced
10 baby corn, washed & cut into small pieces (approx. 1.5cm/1/2 inch)
2 spring onions/ green onions, washed and chopped, approx 2 cm/ 1 inch pieces. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the green tops for decorating.
large handful of greens or baby spinach, washed
Firm tofu, approx 140g/5oz, drained and cut into 1.5 cm/ 1/2 inch cubes.
I used The Tofoo co. Naked organic tofu. You can marinate the cubes in soy sauce / mirin for 20 minutes or even fry in a little veg oil for 3-4 minutes for a crispy outside.
2 teaspoons Soy sauce. I used Clearspring organic Yaemon Tamari soya sauce which is vegan and gluten free.
1/2 teaspoon Sesame oil.
I used Clearspring organic
1/2 teaspoon White Miso Paste.
I used MisoTasty organic unpasteurised.
1/4 teaspoon Mirin ( Japanese rice wine) or Rice Wine Vinegar (optional)
Bamboo shoots & beansprouts ( optional)
2 pieces of dried nori seaweed (approx. 4 x 4cm/ 1 1/2 x 11/2 )inch. I used Clearspring Japanese Sushi Nori.
Heat the vegetable stock in a pan on hob / stove and add the garlic, ginger, miso paste, shiitake mushrooms and reserved mushroom liquid, carrot and soy sauce.
Heat on low/ medium for 5-10 minutes until hot. Add the spring onions (except the 2 teaspoons of tops), baby corn, bamboo shoots and beansprouts (if using) and warm through in the hot soup for 3-5 minutes. I added the konjac noodles at the same time.
If using dried ramen noodles cook separately as per instructions & drain. Add to the bowls ready for the soup.
Just before serving add the greens or baby spinach so they wilt in the hot liquid.
Add the sesame oil, mirin ( if using ) and taste. Add a little more soy sauce if necessary.
Ladle into bowls and add the tofu cubes and sprinkle on the spring onion tops and nori seaweed ( if using) before serving.
Plant based ramen noodle soup.. slurp & enjoy!