Hankering for a bowl of ramen, I decided to make a vegan version of the rich, marbled tonkotsu broth. The soup is usually stewed low and slow – in fact, very slow, often for 12 hours or longer. The result is a viscous liquid, the colour of buttermilk and absolutely bursting with umami. This plant-based version needs a much shorter cooking time and, once you’ve made the soup base, everything comes together in a jiffy. Use any of your favourite ramen toppings in place of those I’ve suggested.
Use gluten-free miso paste and tamari instead of soy sauce. You can use buckwheat or rice noodles in place of the wheat ones. Check that your liquid smoke is wheat-free (or use smoked paprika instead).
First make the broth. Put the oil in a large saucepan and fry the garlic, ginger and shallots until the shallots are translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the spring onion and sesame seeds and fry for another minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the miso paste in the hot water until smooth. Add this to the pan, along with the dashi. Bring to the boil, then carefully pour into a blender. Add the Sriracha sauce, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and sesame oil, then blend until smooth. Return the broth to the saucepan and cover.
Cook your noodles according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the ginger and spring onion until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the ginger burning. Add the mushrooms and fry until they begin to shrink, about 3 minutes. Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup and liquid smoke and bring to the boil, then simmer until the mushrooms are soft and caramelised, about 5–7 minutes.
Just before you are ready to serve, bring your broth back to the boil. In a separate pan (or in the microwave) bring the soy milk to the boil, then pour it into the broth and stir well. (Heating the soy milk beforehand prevents it curdling when it’s added to the hot broth.)
To serve, divide the noodles and mushrooms between two bowls. Pour some broth into each bowl, then add your chosen toppings and eat immediately, while the soup is piping hot and the mushrooms are still warm.
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