Ramen has always been a mainstay food group of many Asian cultures, and then it moved into a food craze in the America and other non-Asian countries. But now it feels (at least in bigger cities) like it has moved from a fad to a mainstay food group right here in the good old U.S. of A. Ramen shops have sprung up all over the place, and no wonder—it’s one of the world greatest comfort meals.
I recently got to go to Japan with my mom, and ramen was very high on my list of Things We Must Eat. We had two fairly sublime ramen experiences, one in a train station in Tokyo, one in a little second floor joint in a back street of Kyoto. Both places were famous for their soups, both would have been impossible to identify as special without someone in the know to tell us, and both made me excited to go home and make my own version of this homey and addicting soup.
This recipe holds absolutely no claims to authenticity (a running theme in my ethnic food journeys), but boy is it good. And, thanks to loads of vegetables, and a special type of noodle, it’s good for you. And it’s truly easy, just a series of very simple cooking steps.
I’m partnering with Dreamfields pasta this Spring on their new 21 Day Pasta Challenge. The challenge is all about feeling good, being active and fit, keeping to your desired weight—and eating pasta at the same time! You can also win some great prizes: a $1000 Visa gift card, a year’s supply of Dreamfields pasta, and one of my cookbooks.
I was tasked with the highly enjoyable job of creating some healthful recipes with their singular pasta. Dreamfields pasta has quite a few claims to fame—first, it’s made with the finest quality durum wheat semolina from North America. It’s also high in plant protein (7 grams per serving!) and in fiber (5 grams per serving!). You don’t usually look to your noodles to be one of the most nutritious elements on the plate or in the bowl, but Dreamfields special pasta is a game changer. Many people have known this for years, some of us are just getting to know this delicious pasta.
And the most important part—IT JUST TASTES LIKE GREAT PASTA. Many of us have experienced various untraditional pastas that we know to be good for us in some way—and many of us have found them to be…lacking, shall we say. When I served this up for the first time to family and some friends, I kept mum about the fact that this was not your everyday pasta. The ramen was inhaled, compliments were lavished (and very graciously received, she said modestly), and not one person noticed that they were reaping some extra nutritional benefits. It’s simply some fine pasta. AND thanks to the tofu and the inclusion of pasta from Dreamfields, it’s got a hefty dose of protein and additional fiber in it. You can’t always say that about a vegetarian pasta! (But, psst, you can also sub in a couple of cups of cooked shrimp or cubed chicken if tofu isn’t your jam.)
As for the soup part, you can buy pre-made stock, or you can make your own. Stock is just extra rich broth that can stand up on its own as a soup. To make it from scratch you would want to put in loads of flavoring ingredients, whether it be meat or poultry bones, other parts of meat or poultry, or loads of vegetables, either separately or in combination.
How to Make Semi-Homemade Stock
Semi-Homemade Vegetable Stock
You can get enriched vegetable broth, or stock, by placing 6 cups of chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions in a pan, and adding 12 cups of vegetable broth. Simmer for 30 minutes, then strain out and discard the vegetables.
Semi-Homemade Chicken Stock
For semi-homemade chicken stock, here are two simple ways to do that:
• Either simmer the bones and skin of a roast chicken in 12 cups of store-bought chicken broth for 30 minutes, then strain and discard the skin and bones.
• Or, you could place two to four large boneless skinless chicken breasts in 12 cups of chicken broth, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and use the broth in this recipe (the chicken will be great shredded or cubed in quesadillas or chicken salad, or any of dish that uses cooked or leftover chicken).
The Asian Ingredients
Mirin is a slightly sweet, low-alcohol Japanese cooking wine made from rice. Miso is a fermented soybean paste, that comes in a variety of colors and flavors and strengths. White miso is one of the mildest versions of this ingredient. You can find both in the Asian food section of many well stocked supermarkets (along with the sesame oil and soy sauce), and certainly in Asian markets and online. Both are optional—but if you can’t find mirin you can also substitute 2 tablespoons dry sherry and 1 teaspoon sugar in this recipe.
This highly slurpable soup is stuffed with vegetables, tofu, noodles and loads and loads of flavor.Tweet This
Serve these bowls with chopsticks and a big old spoon so everyone can get all the noodles and other ingredients, as well as the savory broth.
Angel Hair “Ramen” with Shiitake Mushrooms, Tofu, Baby Bok Choy, and Scallions
- ½ ounces dried mushrooms
- Kosher salt to taste
- ½ 13.25-ounce package Dreamfields Angel Hair pasta (just over 6 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ pound sliced shiitake mushrooms
- ½ pound baby bok choy bottoms trimmed and sliced in quarters lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons mirin rice wine; optional
- 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock see recipe intro
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste optional
- ½ pound tofu soft or firm, cut into 1-inch squares
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil spicy or regular, or to taste (plus more for serving)
- ¾ cup sliced scallions divided
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- Sriracha or other hot sauce, fresh cilantro, additional spicy sesame oil or lightly crushed peanuts to serve
- Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour over 1 cup very hot water. Let steep for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the angel hair according to package directions. Hold the pasta in the strainer or colander.
- Heat the oil in the same pot over medium high heat and add the fresh mushrooms. Sauté for about 6 minutes, until golden brown and tender. Add the bok choy and sauté for 1 minute, then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 more minute, until you can smell the seasonings. Add the mirin, if using, and stir, then add the stock and miso (if using) and bring to a simmer. Mince the soaked mushrooms and add them and their soaking liquid to the pot.
- Add the tofu and cook another minute until the tofu is heated through. Stir in the soy sauce and 2 teaspoons sesame oil.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup sliced scallions. Spoon the pasta, vegetables, tofu and soup evenly into 4 large deep soup bowls. Top with the remaining sliced scallions. Tuck ¼ cup of the baby spinach down into the side of each of the bowls, submerging it in the broth. Serve hot, and pass the hot sauce, cilantro, sesame oil, and/or peanuts if desired.
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