If you like Ramen or other Asian-style noodle bowls, you will love this recipe. This 100% plant-based ramen is a promise of “tasty comfort in a bowl” within an hour.
This tasty vegan ramen is highly inspired by a recent visit to the famous Ramen Hood restaurant in Los Angeles.The 100% vegan restaurant is more like a stall with barely a dozen stools to sit and enjoy a hot bowl of ramen. Many food reviewers tout Ramen Hood ramen as the best you can get in LA. And judging by the mile-long line of hungry customers at the joint, waiting patiently for their turn to order a bowl of ramen, the reviewers don't seem to be off the mark. While I talked to a few fans of ramen in the line if they were vegan or not, my guess based on the friendly banter with other customers is that the majority of of those waiting in the line for a vegan ramen were not 100% vegan.
You don't have to be a vegan to follow a plant-based diet
Dan Buettner, a longevity expert, has recognized five zones around the globe, termed as Blue Zones, where people live the longest and, more importantly, disease-free . One common attribute in the diet of the Blue Zone habitants is that they largely follow a plant-based diet. For example, more than 80% of total food intake of "Okinawan Elders" comes from 100% plant-based foods--grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables . Okinawa in Japan is one of the five Blue Zones, where women live the longest. While moving to a Blue Zone may not be a practical solution to live healthier, increasing the plant-based quotient of your diet is. Use recipes such as this tasty vegan ramen and other plant-based recipes on TLC to increase the proportion of plant-based food in your diet.
Let's make the tasty vegan ramen: step-by-step
Don't be afraid of the many steps you will go through to make this ramen. If you have never made ramen before, try the recipe on a weekend, when you have more time at hand. Also, follow the meal planning tips to do the component cooking to have this recipe during a weeknight.
Step 1: Assemble all the ingredients in one place, both from your pantry and refrigerator. If you are using the TLC Asian Vegetable Broth recipe, it's best to make that a day ahead, preferably on a weekend. You can also use the store-bought mushroom broth but dilute the total required vegetable broth quantity with 50% (filtered) water to reduce the sodium content. (Total Time: 5 minutes)
Step 2: Prepare the ramen noodles per the direction on the noodle package. You can do this step in parallel to following the rest of the steps. Put a big, wide-mouth pot of water to boil and add noodles. Covering the water-filled pot with a lid expedites the water boiling process. I use gluten-free Japanese-style ramen noodles and my favorite noodle brand is Lotus Foods (no affiliation). If you are a member of Amazon pantry, the noodles are available and cheaper than at grocery store. Or feel free to use your favorite brand of ramen. (Total Time: 20 minutes in parallel to doing other steps). Once cooked, set the noodles aside.
Step 3: The secret ingredient in this recipe is toasted sunflower seeds. It's generally a good practice to buy nuts and seeds raw; pre-toasted and packaged seeds/nuts often go rancid and are harmful for health. You will also need white miso paste and nutritional yeast. I bought both the ingredients from my local co-op; but you can find fresh miso and nutritional yeast in many regular supermarkets as well as in Asian grocery stores. Start out by cutting all the vegetables--mushroom, onion, and broccoli (Total Time: 10 Minutes).
Step 4: Make the ramen broth. In a skillet, dry roast sunflower seeds till they are slightly brownish-red (about 3-4 minutes). Please make sure not to over-roast the seeds, otherwise they will taste bitter. Take the roasted seeds out. Add the cooking oil to the same skillet and add onions, garlic, ginger, gluten-free tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce), and salt with a splash of water. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the cooked onion mixture, roasted sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, white miso paste, and broth to a blender and blend until well-mixed. You will end up with a creamy and fragrant broth. (Total Time: ~12 minutes)
Step 5: Brown the tofu. Cut tofu in even-sized squares and add to a bowl with tamari (or soy sauce) and minced garlic. It's worth noting that tamari/soy sauce are super condensed sources of sodium. Therefore, it is best to use the low-sodium version and in moderation. Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 tsp avocado oil. Add the tofu and let it brown turning to the other side with a flat spatula to brown the both sides. (Total Time~10 minutes)
Step 6: Sauté and steam the vegetables. Take a wide-mouth soup pot or similar cooking utensil. Heat a teaspoon of oil and add chopped mushrooms with a couple of pinches of salt. Cook mushrooms for about 2 minutes. Add the blended ramen broth to the mushrooms and bring it to a gentle simmer. Steam the broccoli either in a microwave or in a steamer. (Total Time: 15 minutes).
Step 7: Put it all together. Add about 1.5 cups of mushroom-infused broth to a wide-mouth soup bowl. Then add the noodles, browned tofu, and steamed broccoli. Garnish it with chopped green onion, crushed red pepper flakes, and dried seaweed (nori). Enjoy while it's hot. (Total Time~ 8-10 minutes)
Meal plan the Tasty Vegan Ramen for weeknight dinner
- Make 2-3 batches of ramen broth and freeze it in a freezer-safe container. Just transfer the container to the refrigerator a night before and heat in a soup pot before putting together the ramen. You can also brown the tofu and freeze, but make sure to use it before its "use by" date. I usually brown the tofu and steam the broccoli while reheating the broth. It literally takes 30 minuets to put the tasty vegan ramen bowl on the table.
- You can also prepare 2-3 batches of noodles as well and freeze them to be used on a dinner night. To thaw, transfer a night before to the refrigerator and immerse in hot water or microwave till warm before adding to the hot ramen broth. Enjoy!
Please note in the nutritional panel the high amount of sodium the recipe has despite using the low-sodium tamari (soy sauce) in moderate amounts. Imagine the amount of sodium in Asian foods we eat in restaurants where food is drowned in regular soy sauce. Therefore, it's best to eat these types of meals occasionally rather than everyday.
Tasty Vegan Ramen
To prepare the noodles
- 5 oz ramen noodles (preferably Japanese style, about 4 servings)
To make the Ramen Broth
- 1 tsp avocado oil* (for a more robust flavor use sesame oil)
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (raw)
- 1 medium white onion (or any other type)
- 1.5 tsp ginger (finely minced or crushed)
- 1 clove garlic (enough to make 1 tsp minced)
- 1.5 tsp low-sodium tamari*** (gluten-free version or sub with low-sodium sou sauce)
- 1 pinch salt (or to taste)
- 5.5 cups Asian Vegetable Broth**
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp white miso paste
- 6 oz cremini mushrooms (about 6-8 medium-size mushrooms, can sub with Shitake mushrooms as well)
To prepare the browned tofu
- 9 oz Tofu (with tempeh)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp avocado oil (or sub with any other kind)
- 1.5 tsp low-sodium tamari (gluten-free, or sub with low-sodium soy sauce)
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
To prepare the steamed vegetables****
- 1/2 lb broccoli (~ 3 cups, broken into smaller florets)
- Water (amount based on the method of steaming used)
- 3 stems green onion (washed and finely chopeed)
- 3 sheets nori (seaweed, optional)
- 3 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste, optional, can sub with a squeeze of sriracha sauce)
To make the ramen broth
- Start by boiling the water to boil the ramen noodles. Keep following other steps when the water is boiling. Just pay complete attention after adding noodles to the boiling water. Be sure not to overcook the ramen noodles. Drain the noodles in a colander and then rinse under cold water to avoid overcooking. Set aside.
- While the water boils, assemble all the ingredients out of pantry and refrigerator on to the prep counter. Start by chopping all the vegetables. Heat a skillet over medium heat and dry roast the sunflower seeds (for about 3-4 minutes) stirring often. Put them aside.
- In the same pan, heat the avocado oil over medium heat and add chopped onions, garlic, ginger, salt, and tamari. Keep a small bowl of water close by to add to the mixture should it start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, till the onion is cooked through. Add this mixture to a blender with Asian vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, and roasted sunflower seeds. Blend on high speed till well mixed.
- In a heavy-bottom, wide-mouth soup pot, heat 1/2 tsp of avocado oil and then add chopped mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms till soft. Add the blended broth to the mushrooms and keep it hot over medium-low heat.
To brown the tofu
- Squeeze the tofu between both palms to remove excess water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Cut the tofu into even-sized squares and add to a bowl. Stir in the tamari, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and mix well with fingers to coat the tofu with the flavoring agents.
- Heat oil on a flat skillet and add the tofu. Turn over, once once side is browned. Keep aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
Steam the broccoli
- Either microwave or use a steamer to steam the broccoli. When steamed, it should still have some bite to it.
Put the tasty vegan ramen together
- Divide the mushroom-infused ramen broth into four parts, and add to four big and somewhat deep soup bowls. Add the noodles, tofu, and the steamed broccoli florets. Garnish with green onion, crushed red pepper, and a sheet of nori folded into a triangle. Enjoy!
Resources and Recommendations
- The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner
- The Okinawa Way: How to Improve Your Health and Longevity Dramatically by