Ramen gets a pretty bad rap, but if your like me and obsessed with asian culture you don’t give a flying father. The noodles are just so good, firm and tasty. Not gluten-free, sorry John. This is a little snippet from Wikipedia about ramen noodles:
Most noodles are made from four basic ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui, which is essentially a type of alkaline mineral water, containing sodium carbonate and usually potassium carbonate, as well as sometimes a small amount of phosphoric acid. Originally, kansui was named after the water from Inner Mongolia‘s Lake Kan which contained large amounts of these minerals and was said to be perfect for making these noodles. Making noodles with kansui lends them a yellowish hue as well as a firm texture. Eggs may also be substituted for kansui. Some noodles are made with neither eggs nor kansui and should only be used for yakisoba[why?].
Ramen comes in various shapes and lengths. It may be thick, thin, or even ribbon-like, as well as straight or wrinkled.
Dont worry, I’m not eating ramen made with eggs. But its the alkaline mineral water that makes them firm in a hot soup, rather than getting soggy or mushy like a regular noodle. I’ve wanted to make my own noodles before, but that seems like far too much work for this lazy cook. Instead I went to World Market where imported food stuff lines the shelves and the coffee samples flow like coffee samples. Whenever I go to World Market, which is quite often because I live so close, I debate buying some rad bath toys they have at the checkout. A suction basketball net with a floaty ball, some bath fish with a fishing pole, and good old rubber ducks. I want the fishing set most, or the basketball net. Both. I want them both equally. Were in a drought and I’m taking baths.
Anyways, I didn’t want to make noodles and there’s a good chance I never will. Because John would be at work late I bought my ramen and headed home to make a big bowl of gluten goodness. I needed extra gluten with the gluten, so I added seitan.
I set out to make my soup, a miso based ramen with leeks and seitan. I recently got a rice cooker, which is also a slow cooker and food steamer. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to make a quick soup or stew in it, just throw in the ingredients and press the white rice option. Everything cooks up quickly and easily.
Miso Ramen with Leeks and Seitan
for the base
1 c. vegetable stock
1 c. water
1 T. white miso paste
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 inch knob chopped ginger
Let this cook for about 5 minutes before adding:
1/2 leek, chopped
3 crimini mushrooms sliced
4 slices frozen lotus root slices
1/2 c. frozen or fresh seitan
I let this cook another 5 minutes before adding my noodles. I used 1 bundle of the ramen noodles which was probably more like 2 servings. The instructions on the package said to cook for 4 minutes but I tasted them at the 4 minute mark and decided another minute wouldn’t be a bad idea.
wedge of lime
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
dash red pepper flake
The lotus root isn’t totally necessary for the soup, but it gives life to an otherwise visually plain dish. It’s also very tasty, like a sunchoke meets a potato. You will have to go to an asian market to find lotus root, which I’ve seen both fresh and frozen. I chose frozen because it is easier to cook and is a little less intimidating when working with a new vegetable.
The seitan is also totally optional in this dish. I love seitan and digest gluten fine so I threw it in there. It’s not my favorite source of plant-based protein (beans FTW) because its very processed, but I have two 5 lb bags of the stuff in my freezer. A gift from the chef where John works. It will likely last a very, very long time.
This soup was super tasty and quite filling. I don’t get to eat ramen very often and this really hit the spot. On a cold night something like this is perfect. If I were making this for John (who is GF) and myself, I would’ve either used soybean noodles or rice noodles. The soy noodles I use are from Explore Asia, you can read more about their products here. You may have seen tofu or soy noodles in the refrigerated section of many big name grocers, but these are much different from those shiritaki tofu noodles. Those noodles come in a bag of water and are straight up nasty. Dont bother.
I found the soy noodles I use at Whole Foods, and the company also makes black bean spaghetti and mung bean fettuccine (my fav). If you end up going to an asian food store to pick up lotus root, you can check out some real shiritaki noodles. They are made out of yam, and are much more palatable with a well seasoned dish. I’ll have to post more about those noodles another time.