To me, Ramen is never a strict recipe. My favourite part, besides from the flavour, is being able to use any leftover veg in the fridge, or anything different I feel like incorporating each time. This always gives me the familiarity of nostalgia, and the excitement of trying something new with each meal.
This broth is a Tonkotsu style, but the fact that it’s vegan incredibly reduces the cooking time, without compromising on flavour (Tonkotsu broth normally cooks around 8 hours). Don’t be put off by the long ingredients list, it is a surprisingly easy process. The Japanese ingredients (kombu, dried mushrooms, ramen noodles and everything else can be found at any Asian food market).
Vegan Tonkotsu Ramen With Tofu
- For the broth
- 1/2 pack dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 stick kombu
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 1.6 liters water
- For the
- 4 tbsp miso paste
- 4 tbsp tahini
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 inch knob of peeled ginger
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 medium red chili
- For the toppings
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 1 pack mushrooms (any variety)
- 2 bok choi
- to taste spring onions
- 4 rolls ramen noodles
1. Remove the tofu from its packaging, place it on a plate with a paper towel on top and under it. Place a chopping board with some kind of weight on top for 15 mins.
2. Pour the water, cold, into a saucepan. Add the dried mushrooms and kombu, and let steep for 20 mins.
3. Add all of the ingredients for the ‘paste’ to a food processor and blend for about one minute, scraping down the sides if necessary, until smooth. It should be thick, pale with a red/brown colour. This can be left in the fridge for weeks if unused.
4. Remove the kombu and mushrooms from the water, and bring it up to a boil on a high heat. Once it begins to boil, add in the stock cubes, and turn down the heat to a simmer. You can save the mushrooms to cook later, although they are sometimes quite tough in texture.
5. Remove the tofu, cut it into thin squares, and fry on a high heat with a neutral oil until it begins to crisp on each side. Season with salt and pepper while it cooks, and finish it off with a drop of soy sauce. Remove the tofu and place onto a plate with kitchen towel to drain the oil. Cut the mushrooms and cook in the same pan. Add soy at the end to finish as well.
6. In a separate saucepan, boil water for the noodles. Follow the instructions on the packet, and once cooked, drain and shock in an ice bath. This will maintain the bite of the noodle and prevent it from becoming mush.
7. As the noodles cook, blanch the bok choi in the simmering broth.
8. To serve: Add roughly two tablespoons of paste to a bowl, covering it with broth. Combine in the bowl. Add the noodles, and atop the noodles, assemble the toppings. Keep the broth simmering while serving to ensure it stays hot.
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Photo: Eli Basta