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Vegan Mushroom and Tofu Ramen

Ramen is one of those aromatic comfort foods that is a staple of Japanese households. Ramen houses now abound in the U.S. but the ramen bowls they offer are loaded with oil and mostly not plant-based. You can make your own at home that will be more "whole" and completely plant-based, but with its multiple parts it is best made when you have a larger block of time!

There are four main parts to making a delicious bowl of ramen. There's the broth, sometimes called "dashi", the sauce which flavors the broth, the ramen noodles which are now available in all sorts of whole grain varieties, and the toppings which in this recipe are bok choy, mushrooms, broccolini, tofu, cilantro, black sesame seeds, and chili threads. It is fun to modify the topping ingredients to suit your personal tastes and what you have on hand.

I highly recommend that you review each section of the recipe and set up the ingredients for that section in advance. This technique known as "mis en place" (everything in its place) will greatly simplify the preparation.

Mushroom and Tofu Ramen Bowl

Serves 2

For the Dashi broth:

1 cup chopped yellow onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped

4 1/2 cups water

2 inch by 5 inch piece of dried Kombu* (kelp)

6-8 shiitake mushrooms (dried whole shiitake mushrooms will also work)

For the "sauce":

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sugar (or date syrup, or agave)

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sake or dry sherry

1-2 teaspoons Siracha (depends how hot you like it!)

For the toppings:

7 oz extra firm tofu, cubed

1-2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Pepper to taste

1 baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup broccolini florets

7 oz Enoki mushrooms, separated into thin strands

5 oz Seafood mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

6 oz ramen noodles

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Chili threads to taste

Place the top rack of your oven racks under the broiler coils and turn oven to "broil" setting.

Make the broth:

Heat a large non-stick saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion, minced garlic and ginger until golden brown. Add water or vegetable broth as needed to prevent sticking. Add the water, kombu and shiitake mushrooms. Bring this "dashi" mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Lower heat to the lowest setting and remove the shiitakes from the dashi and set aside. Cover the dashi to keep warm.

Make the sauce:

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together all sauce ingredients - the soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, sake or sherry, and siracha. Divide this sauce between two serving bowls.

Prepare the Toppings:

Spread the tofu cubes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with soy sauce and freshly ground pepper. Toss lightly to coat the cubes. Broil 12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and keep the cubes warm. Lower the top rack and set oven to 425°.

Spread the broccolini out on the same parchment used to broil the tofu. Sprinkle with salt (optional) and pepper to taste. Roast at 425° for 7 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat and brown the bok choy halves cut side down in the pan. Remove and keep warm.

Once the shiitakes used to make the dashi have cooled, slice them and sauté over medium heat in the same fry pan with the enoki mushrooms, seafood mushrooms, and the garlic, ginger and soy sauce for 5-7 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions. While the ramen is cooking bring the dashi broth back to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat, let cool a moment and then pour it through a sieve into the serving bowls over the "sauce". Give the bowls a whisk.

When ramen noodles are done, drain and place in the serving bowls. Top each bowl with the mushroom mixture, broccolini, tofu, bok choy, the chopped ginger, black sesame seeds. Garnish with cilantro and chili threads. Enjoy!

*Dried kombu can be found at Whole Foods, East Asian markets, health food stores or here on Amazon.


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