This umami rich shiitake mushroom broth is deepened with miso and toasted sesame. It’s everything satisfying and savory that we all want from an amazing bowl of soup. Grilled marinated tofu and shiitakes take things over the top with chewy noodles, and fresh baby bok choy!
I’ve been working on this recipe for a while. I was torn between two worlds in making it though: the one where the stock is made a full day ahead and is more labor intensive, and the one where everything is made quickly. In the end, I came up with something that falls somewhere in the middle. You won’t be spending hours over the stove, but some patience while the stock simmers to soften the dried shiitakes is absolutely worth it. It’s during that stage that the flavors from the mushrooms are released into the broth.
Ramen is it’s best when it has really strong umami flavors. As it happens, dried shiitakes are flavor bombs. The trick though is getting them to fully hydrate. For this recipe, they are simmered with some aromatics like garlic, onion and fresh ginger. Once they are fully softened, the broth is blended with a few other ingredients to create an almost creamy broth. A lot of recipes call for leaving the mushrooms whole, but I wasn’t in favor of this for two reasons:
- I really don’t enjoy the texture of boiled mushrooms (hello rubber), and
- by blending the mushrooms, we’re diffusing their amazing flavor throughout the broth. YUM.
For the remaining bit of the recipe, we’re just putting some tofu into a really simple marinade. You can do this the night before, which is even better because then the tofu absorbs even more flavor! But if you’re short on time, letting it hang out for 30 minutes while the broth cooks is amazing, too. Once it’s ready, we sear it and some fresh shiitakes, and get the noodles cooked, tossing the bok choy in at the last second. Then it’s time eat!
Tips for Perfect Vegan Mushroom Miso Ramen:
- For a seamless, prep: Start the broth, get the tofu marinating, prep the fresh mushrooms, get the water for the noodles boiling, sear the tofu and then the mushrooms, add the bok choy to the noodles and then you’re ready to dish it up!
- If you want a super quick dinner, make the broth and marinate the tofu the day before. Start to grill the tofu and mushrooms 20 minutes before dinner. During this time, heat the broth and cook the noodles.
- I tested this first by marinating the mushrooms while the tofu cooked, but things got really smoky really fast once the saucy mushrooms hit the pan. We didn’t find the mushrooms tasted any different whether they were marinated a few minutes or not because they are tossed with marinade once they are cooked anyway. Same goes for the bok choy – it’s really nice grilled but I found it easier to just dunk in the pot of noodles a few minutes before the noodles were done.
- Toasted sesame oil is not the same as sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is darker and has a much richer, nutty flavor. I find I rarely reach for regular sesame oil since trying the toasted!
- Fresh shiitakes will not give the broth the same result as dried shiitakes. Dried shiitakes provide a much stronger umami flavor.
- Store the ramen components separately for better leftovers. This is especially true for the noodles – they will absorb a lot of liquid and become a bit gluey in the fridge. Toss leftover noodles with a bit of oil to help prevent sticking.
Vegan Mushroom Miso Ramen
For the Mushroom Miso Ramen Broth:
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp ginger, microplaned
- 8 cups water or vegan beef broth
- 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 3 tbsp mirin
- 3 tbsp genmai (dark) miso paste
For the Marinated Tofu:
- 14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp genami miso paste (dark miso)
- 1 tbsp ginger, microplaned
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
For the Rest of the Toppings:
- 6-7 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 3 3 oz packs ramen-style noodles, or noodles of choice
- 12-18 baby bok choy
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced for serving
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, for serving
- hot sauce of choice, or chili flakes, if desired
For the Ramen:
- In a large pot, heat the toasted sesame oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 30 seconds then stream in the water or stock and add in the dried shiitake mushrooms. Put the lid on and turn the heat up to high. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Over a large bowl, carefully strain the soup over a fine mesh sieve. Place the mushrooms, onions etc that you’ve strained out in a high-speed blender with about a cup or so of the broth. Pour the broth back into the pot.
- Add the soy sauce, mirin and miso paste to the blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Pour the blended mixture back into the pot, stir, and turn the heat back on to low, cover and keep warm.
For the Tofu:
- In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade.
- Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes, or in small triangles. For triangles, cut the block of tofu in half down the long part of the block so you have 2 blocks the same size as the original, but half the thickness. Keeping the 2 pieces stacked, cut them in half from top to bottom (along the long side). Then start cutting width wise – i.e. cut the stack in 2. Cut each of those halves in 2. You will now have 16 flat squares. Cut these in half on the diagonal so each square now becomes 2 triangles.
- Pour the marinade into a baking baking tray (I used 7×11). Place all of the tofu onto a single layer in the marinade. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, flipping the tofu once. If you’re doing this several hours or the day before, keep refrigerated.
- Heat a stove top grill pan or a skillet over medium heat. Brush the grills with sesame oil, or if using a skillet, add about a tbsp sesame oil. Once hot, add the tofu pieces in a single layer (keep the marinade.) Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, until heated through and some nice sear lines appear (if using the grill). When the tofu is done, place it on a plate under some foil to keep warm.
- Grease the pan with sesame oil, and cook the shiitake mushrooms in a single layer. Cook for for 2-3 minutes, flip them, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
- Pour the remaining marinade, half over the tofu and half over the shiitake mushrooms. Toss to coat.
- Prepare the noodles according to package directions in a pot that is big enough to also hold the bok choy. Two minutes before the noodles are ready, place the baby bok choy on top of the noodles to briefly cook. Do not stir so they don’t become tangled up in the noodles. Drain when the cooking time for the noodles is up.
- To serve, ladle some broth into bowls, add noodles and then top with the tofu, shiitakes, baby bok choy, green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy with hot sauce of choice or chili flakes, if desired.
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