Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Art of Ramen

I love ramen. I can't count the number of times I've uttered those words on this blog. But it's true. Ever since I was a little kid, I've considered ramen noodles my very favorite food. You can whip up the fanciest, gourmet vegan meal in the world, but it will never be better than soft, fried wheat noodles simmered in a salty, garlicky broth.

It wasn't until watching my now-favorite movie Ramen Girl with the late, great Brittany Murphy that I realized cooking ramen was considered an art form in Japan. There's even a ramen museum in Yokohama. Some day, I will make a pilgrimage.

Out of sheer laziness, I mostly eat instant ramen. But all I needed was a little push to try making my own broth. And that came from one of my favorite bloggers, Annie Shannon of Meet the Shannons. When I saw her post on Vegan Garlic Chicken Ramen with a Vegan Hard Boiled Egg, I knew that soup had to be mine:

Here's the recipe. I made it tonight, and it really does taste worlds better than the instant stuff. The broth is made with vegan chicken-style bouillon powder, soy sauce, garlic, a little lime juice, and rice wine vinegar. I bought plain ramen-style noodles at my neighborhood Asian market, and as the recipe suggests, I loaded the soup with baby corn, water chesnuts, carrots, pea pods, and Morningstar Farms chicken strips.

But the coolest part is the tofu egg! After watching Ramen Girl, I started doing research on traditional ways to make ramen, and I remember seeing photos of hard boiled eggs atop noodle bowls. Now I can do that too! The tofu egg is stuffed with mashed tofu that's been seasoned with cumin, nutritional yeast, and other spices. It was fun to break it up with chopsticks when I was eating!

And now I'll leave you with a poem I wrote about ramen in 1997 (when I was a senior in high school!) from my zine Frenzy. I stumbled across it the other day when looking through a binder of my old zines that I used to type, print, and hand out to the kids at school:

My Ode to Ramen Noodles

Long, graceful
Out of your
Block as the
Water boils you
To deliciousness.
Mixing in the
Packet of flavor
Your tan becomes
And Spicy.


Adam said...

If you want to see Japanese movies about noodles, Tampopo is the pinnacle of the (narrow) genre.

Anonymous said...

Don't ramen noodles have a wax coating that causes intestinal blockage issues and/or cancer? I heard that you should wait at least 3 days before eating them again, so people that eat them every day are asking for trouble!

Sheridanna said...

I love the Frenzy shout-out! Those were good times and I probably have that same zine with your poem floating around here somewhere. I love Ramen too and I am determined to try this - it looks amazing! Ramen foreva!

Helen said...

You are truly the #1 Ramen Fan of all Time. If Ramen is not sending you big boxes of ramen they are out of their minds! :-) I love the tofu boiled egg, so FUN!

tamara said...

which instant ramen are vegan? i used to love them when i was little but can never find one that doesn't skeeve me out, ingredient wise.

Vegyogini said...

I totally watched this movie after you recommended it to me a while ago! Very fun and your ramen looks delicious!

The Edgy Vedgy said...

I'm totally watching ramen girl now. i've been on a crazy ramen kick now and your ideas are making it so much easier to make it more filling.

Annie said...

I love in that movie when she talks about trying to make the perfect bowl of soup... I can relate. I love food so much and am always trying to make even "simple" things into art. :)
I love your ramen - it turned out BEAUTIFUL!!!
My favorite part is when you're eating this and the faux yoke starts to mix into the broth and noodles... I remember stopping and saying something like "OH MAN!" - thanks for reminding me of one of my very favorite food memories. :)

Anonymous said...

MSF products are far from Vegan.
They use GMO's in everything except for the
Organic Sausage Patty.....

Your noodles look great; I can find other Vegan Strips!

Bianca said...

Hey Anonymous. The Morningstar Farms chicken strips are actually vegan. Just because something contains GMOs doesn't make it un-vegan. It just makes it bad for the environment and probably your health. But that's okay sometimes...I'm not all crazy anti-GMOs. I probably should be. But I'm not.

Sara (The Veggie Eco-Life) said...

It sure looks really good :)

Jess - The Domestic Vegan said...

This looks so damn good! I have never had ramen noodles... Isn't that crazy?! I made it through 4 years of college without ever once eating ramen. I have no doubt that I would love them, though, as I love all things carb-y & delicious. :)

John McDevitt said...

I was just talking about how much I miss ramen. Time to get reacquainted!

Tender Branson said...

Amazing poem.

Anonymous said...

This post made me smile so much!

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm not vegetarian, but my daughter is, and we both love ramen. So I will have to give this recipe a try.

It's also a lovely poem!

Anonymous said...

There is no wax in ramen noodles, this is an urban legend, so enjoy! http://www.snopes.com/food/prepare/ramen.asp

Mike Rouleau said...


Ramen Girl piqued my interest and I can't go a week without it.

GMO - nature has been blindly and actively engaging in GMO for 3.5 Billion years now (approximately) and not always ending in results favorable to humans - for example plagues & flus & killer diseases. These are often random mutations nature is just "test driving" in the name of diversity. But it's never personal, so I don't get excited about learning about GMO foods...

And Ranen can be thought of evolutionary genetics metaphorically I guess. Lots of different ways and ingredients to arrive at a wonderful bowl with perhaps mistakes along the way... enjoy