Spicy Vegan Tantanmen Ramen
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I am obsessed with ramen! The Japanese really struck gold when they concocted this dish! Ramen is an intensely flavorful, warming, and fun noodle soup that can soothe any palate! You can find ramen in a ton of different variations, such as Tantanmen, Tonkotsu, Shoyu, Paitan, Miso, and more. The options are really endless. If you haven't boarded the ramen train, it's time!
So, after spending too much money at my favorite ramen restaurant in town, I set out on a quest to make the perfect Vegan Tantanmen Ramen at home. I needed to satisfy my addiction in a more affordable way. With that in mind, I did a little research. And, by research, I mean I ignored my bank account balance and went back to my favorite restaurant many, many more times until I could confidently identify all the key ingredients! It was tough work, but I did it for you, sooo…you're welcome! ;)
In this recipe, there are four parts that must be made separately. In the end, you'll combine all of these parts into one heavenly bowl of ramen bliss. Here's what you'll need to do:
Cook the noodles per package instructions (al dente), drain, and place into your soup bowl. You'll want the noodles to be al dente because they will continue to cook once you add the broth. Over-cooking can result in soggy noodles in the end, which isn't as tasty.
In a pot, sauté garlic, ginger, and onion in some sesame oil over MEDIUM heat until everything is translucent and aromatic, then add the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil.
Make your miso paste mixture. It's important to do this separately to better work through the miso and remove as many clumps as possible. You'll need to whisk this mixture really well or you will end up with a lot of sediment in your soup. This is also a great way to regulate how much heat you want to add. Chili paste can be very powerful, so start by only adding a few drops, whisk, taste, and add a bit more from there if you so desire. Next, add a bit of the boiling broth (from PART TWO) to this miso paste mixture to help dissolve everything. *NOTE: If red miso tastes saltier to you, you can hold off on adding the soy sauce until everything is well mixed and then toss it in if you feel like it needs an extra kick. Once it all tastes to your liking, pour this mixture back into your pot of boiling broth and simmer on LOW heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make your topping! (This is my favorite part!) To me, this topping adds a crucial texture to the dish that can easily be missed when making a vegan version of ramen. For ease, I bought some "pre-riced" cauliflower from the store. Obviously, there's already a lot going on here, so this was a much faster alternative to breaking out the food processor. Throw about ½ cup of crumbled, extra firm tofu and ½ cup of raw, riced cauliflower into a pan with some sesame oil and sauté on MEDIUM heat until the cauliflower is soft (about 5-7 minutes). Just before it's done cooking, drizzle some Siracha to add some color and give it all a quick stir. Don't overthink this step– you're really just "flash-cooking" the tofu and cauliflower so that the texture of the cauliflower matches the texture of the tofu.
So, now your noodles, broth, and toppings are done! All that's left is to put it all together, garnish, and devour! Pour the broth over the noodles in your bowl, add the tofu & cauliflower topping, sprinkle some green onion, cilantro, and chili oil (optional) over top, and dig in! Also, don't expect to look pretty while eating this…ramen is definitely not a first-date-meal! Grab a napkin, spoon and chopsticks, or fork and slurp away until your new vegan heart is content!
*NOTE: To make this Gluten Free, substitute rice noodles for the traditional ramen noodles and substitute Tamari or Liquid Aminos for the soy sauce.