Sunday, February 14, 2016

Pho Ramen Noodle Bowl

There is a place in the basement food court in the building I work that largely serves sushi.  As such, for years, I have not paid it much attention ( I am not a big fan of veggie sushi). I literally have been walking past it almost every day since 2007.

One day, I was in the food court considering lunch and I saw two people eating what looked to be a delicious soup  and for the life of me could not figure out where they might have gotten it.  So I walked around the food court looking at the very familiar places there, and a sign above the sushi counter caught my eye. Noodle soup!

I inquired with the gentleman working there about the soup base and yes, it was a vegetable stock based soup. I ordered a veggie bowl with tofu and the rest, as they say, is history. I frequent that place all the time for lunch now. In fact, I crave that soup when I am not at work and that is how this meal was born. They serve theirs with a little spice packet called "shichimi", which is a delicious spicy Thai blend; it is not something I have at home (though I need to either find or make some). That would be a great add to this dish.

I was not sure what to name this dish- Ramen? Pho? Noodle Bowl? I am not sure what style of soup this is so I just went with all three. If you can tell me what it is closest to, I would love to know! I can tell you this, though: it is warm, flavorful and filling! And, it is easy to make, which is always a bonus.

Note: this recipe makes more broth than needed for the amount of ramen specified. I got two healthy servings from the 6oz of noodles and had about enough broth left for two more healthy servings. If you make the hoisin sauce recipe below you will have some leftover for another use).

Pho Ramen Noodle Bowl

For the soup:
6 oz ramen noodles cooked per package directions
64 oz vegetable stock
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
3 green onions, sliced thinly
2 tsp plus 1 tsp sesame oil
5 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (prepared or using recipe below)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh basil leaves
Clover sprouts or other sprouts of your choice
Tofu (pressed to remove water), diced
Jalapeno pepper slices
Lime wedges

Hoisin Sauce
4 tbs tamari sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbs agave nectar
2 tsp white vinegar
1/8 tsp garlic powder
20 drops hot sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper

In a large stock pot add the vegetable stock, ginger and green onions. Bring to a full boil, reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

If not using a prepared hoisin sauce, while the stock is cooking quickly prepare the hoisin sauce by whisking all ingredients together. Set aside.

In a saute pan over medium heat add 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp vegan butter.  Add mushrooms and saute until tender (about six minutes). Once tender, remove from the pan, pat to remove oil and wipe the pan of any residual oil.  Place the pan back on the heat, add the mushrooms back to the pan and allow to continue to cook until the mushrooms release their liquid and it evaporates from the pan. the mushrooms will start to brown and become chewy.  Do not rush this process, it may take another 5-10 minutes.  Add the tablespoon of hoisin sauce, toss to coat and cook a little while longer (no more than a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat.

Take the stock from the large pan and strain it (if desired) to remove the ginger and onion.

Place a generous amount of ramen noodles into a bowl, cover with the broth and add the mushrooms, red pepper, cilantro, basil, sprouts, tofu, jalapeno and lime to the top and serve with hoisin sauce to add on the side, if desired.

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