The combination of miso and Tahini yields a vegan ramen that is as satisfying to eat as a traditional one that is based on meat stock, as the miso is packed with umami flavour and the Tahini adds a rich fattiness from its natural sesame oils. The Urfa chilli paste then gives a mellow, aromatic heat to the whole dish and looks great as it splits into the ramen. The base stock takes a while to infuse and uses shitake mushrooms, but you could also experiment with other dried mushrooms and if you’re pushed for time, you could just make a miso soup base and then mix with the tahini. This recipe uses a typical set of garnishes, but free to add in or change whatever you wish.
1 leek, peeled washed, cut into large chunks
1 large onion or 2 small, peeled and cut in half
6 garlic cloves, peeled
80g dried shitake mushrooms
16 tbsp Tahini
300g dried ramen noodles (other noodles and even spaghetti is fine to use)
150g fresh bean sprouts
1/2 small tin bamboo shoots (approx. 250g), drained and thinly sliced
4 spring onions, outer skin removed and thinly sliced
1 or 2 sheets nori paper, cut into approx. 6cm squares, or finely shredded into flakes
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
4 tsp Urfa Chilli Paste (or more if you want more spicy heat)
Place a frying pan on a high heat and when hot, add the leek, onions and garlic and char till blackened on edges and sides. Don’t overcrowd the pan as it will cause the temperature to drop, you may need to do it in 2 or 3 batches. Place these in a large pan with 3 litres cold water and add the dried shitake mushrooms. Bring up to boil then turn off, cover and allow to infuse for 4 hours or overnight. Strain off the stock, which should yield around 2 litres. Discard the veg, but keep the shitakes to pickle or thinly slice and use to garnish the ramen.
Season the ramen using the miso paste. Place the miso in a bowl and add a few spoonsful of stock so that the miso becomes a loose paste, then add back to the stock and stir to combine. This stock can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days, until ready to use.
When ready to serve the ramen, bring the stock back up to a gentle simmer. Heat your oven to 50C and place 4 bowls in to warm up. Place a medium pan of water to cook the noodles on a high heat and bring to the boil. Add the noodles and follow the packets cooking instructions for how long to cook. When cooked, drain into a colander or sieve.
Whilst the noodles are cooking, or once they have cooked but still hot, mix the stock with the tahini. This needs to be done in stages because if you add too much hot liquid to Tahini it goes grainy and almost curdles. Pour the tahini into a large jug then add about 100ml of the hot stock. Stir or whisk to combine. It will thicken to a dense paste, now add around 200ml more of stock and whisk again till combined. Repeat again. At this point, the Tahini should be of a loose but smooth consistency. Now you can add the remainder of the hot stock but keep whisking or stirring to incorporate as you go. Taste and add salt or soy sauce if you feel it could do with a little more seasoning. If only making 1 or 2 portions of the ramen, then you can mix the tahini and stock together directly in the bottom of the bowl.
Divide the noodles between bowls, then add the hot stock to cover. Garnish each bowl with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, spring onions, sesame seeds, a square of nori paper and some sliced shitakes, if using. Drizzle 1 tsp of the Urfa chilli paste over the of the ramen then serve.