I’m a huge fan of Serious Eats. Besides referring to it for general cooking questions I might have, I really adore their series “The Vegan Experience” (and I’m not vegan… heck, I’m not even vegetarian).
One of the vegan recipes that I bookmarked but was intimidated by the number of ingredients and steps was Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen With Roasted Vegetables and Miso Broth. What does one do when they are not sure they can pull off a recipe on their own? In my case, it was finding a friend who said “So when you want to cook together? I want to do something new and crazy. Just something fun, y’know?”
New? Check. Crazy? Check.
Let’s do this thing!
The ingredient list isn’t all that bad. It would have been nice if there had been a condensed shopping list. It’s essentially this:
Everything with an asterisk were things already in my pantry. Well, except for the shichimi togarashi but we’ll get to that later. And for the ramen noodles, Jared and I decided to be extra experimental and try the pasta with baking soda trick. Several times, we asked each other if we had forgotten something because our shopping cart seemed like it didn’t have nearly enough ingredients waiting to be paid for.
One hurdle done.
But the doing?… ah, this was the real challenge.
And half the challenge was matching the ingredient list with the ramen component we were working on. We both really wanted to reformat the whole recipe for easier reading in the kitchen.
On my own, I had read the recipe through a couple of times but I wish I had studied the photos in the blog post more. We didn’t notice that the sweet potatoes and the maitake were not mixed on the baking sheet. It made for a slight inconvenience to pick out sweet potato chunks for the blender.
For the soy-tare, I would leave the ginger and scallions in large identifiable pieces because you have to separate it from the quartered shiitake caps when done.
We also recommend upping the eggplant from 1 small to 2 small. We had very little eggplant compared to the number of servings when all was said and done. Also, you don’t get a lot of cooked liquid from 1 small eggplant. Spinning out said liquid felt fiddly.
But more importantly, how did it taste?
The components of the ramen are their own were good but nothing I felt impressed by. The baking soda noodles were really interesting! The baking soda made the noodles a bit chewier, and taste very eggy. The sweet potatoes baked in the spice blend gave a nice heat that quick dissipated. But, altogether, the dish was very lovely and satisfying. Jared’s wife got a gluten free version for health reasons. We replaced the soy sauce with GF tamari in the recipe, and made a separate pot of rice noodles just for her. Her reaction was “This is amazing!” We also fed a friend of theirs who is vegetarian and planning to go mostly vegan. The friend thought it was one of the best things she had had in a very long time. In short, those with dietary restrictions are probably going to enjoy it best.
I can definitely see myself making parts of the recipe for other noodle and soup recipes. I’m not sure if I’ll ever make the whole recipe on my own (but if I do, I think I would spread it over two days). Jared and I may make it again, but not for at least 6 months and we’ve had time to recover from the amount of steps this ramen involved.
I will definitely make the sweet potatoes again. I never thought to bake them with shichimi togarashi before, and I like the idea blending some of it to give the broth more body. True story, I’ve never cared for shichimi togarashi before. So I didn’t have it in my pantry, nor did I see the point in buying it for just this recipe. So I made it with ingredients I did have in my pantry. The spice blend is supposed to be a blend of seven spices. (Shichi means seven.) I used five, so I’m going to start calling my blend “five-mi togarashi.” It is not traditional but I was quite happy with it. (I suppose I could also call it go-mi togarashi since go is five in Japanese).
FIVE-MI TOGARASHI (GO-MI TOGARASHI)
1 tablespoon mandarin orange dust
4 teaspoons gochugaru
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
Mix altogether, and store in a tightly fitted lidded jar.