Mushroom Tofu Ramen (Vegetarian Recipe)

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A sumptuous mushroom broth with tofu, mushrooms and sesame. This is a relatively delicate ramen dish without spicy and complex flavors. If you want you can stir a spoonful of Sichuan chilli paste or miso and sesame tare into each bowl to get a thicker and fuller flavor for your broth. Some variation can be nice from time to time.
This recipe is excerpted with permission from Ramen: Japanese Noodles and Small Dishes.

Step 1

This is a so-called assari broth, light and often translucent. Mushroom broth is sometimes served far too sweet and some regard it as watery and without flavour. It is an art to get it right. I mix together both fresh and dried mushrooms: my secret ingredient is black morels, which give even more depth and smokiness. The broth is actually only brought to the boil once and is then left to infuse away from the heat – almost like a dashi broth. Don’t throw away the mushrooms that get left over from the cooking – they can be pickled together with soy sauce and rice vinegar.
makes approximately 8 cups
12 dried shiitake mushrooms (20g or 3/4oz)
6 dried black morels (300g or 10-1/2 oz) fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 pieces of kombu seaweed (10g or 1/4oz)
2 spring onions10cm/4in piece of ginger root, sliced
10-1/2 cups water
Scant 2/3 cup Japanese soy sauce

Step 2

Place the mushrooms, kombu, spring onions, ginger and water in a large pan and bring to the boil.
Leave to simmer for about 30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and leave the broth to infuse for about 3 hours.
Strain the broth. Save the mushrooms for pickles. To serve, heat up the broth and season with soy sauce and salt.

Step 3

The dough needs to be worked thoroughly and it takes a long time before it comes together, so it’s best to use a food mixer with a dough hook. Don’t despair, it will look dry and crumbly at first but it will get more supple as you work it. If you haven’t got a machine that can do the job you will have to work with your hands and arms, which I usually do anyway after the dough has come together in the machine. You will also need a pasta machine.
serves 12–16

Step 4

2½ tsp toasted baking powder or kansui
Generous 2 cups cold water
1 tbsp salt
4 cups strong white bread flour
4-1/3 cups tipo 00 flour
cornflour or potato flour, for rolling

Step 5

Mix the baking powder and water in a bowl. Stir thoroughly until the baking powder has dissolved. Add the salt and stir until dissolved.
Combine the flours in the bowl of a food mixer and work in the liquid with the dough hook on a low speed until you get a firm dough – about 15 minutes. The dough should feel rubbery and very firm. If it hasn’t started to come together after 10 minutes, add 1–2 tbsp water and leave it to run for a bit longer.Turn the dough out onto a work surface and work for another 5 minutes with your hands and elbows. The dough will be quite heavy and difficult to work.Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rest at room temperature for approximately 1 hour.
Flatten the dough and divide it into 16 equally sized portions, approximately 1½–1¾in.

Step 6

Feed the dough through the pasta machine to make sheets of dough. I usually run it to level 4, which should make the noodles thin enough. If you like your noodles thicker, all you have to do is go for a higher setting. You will probably find your preference after a few attempts. Powder the sheets with cornflour.
Run through the machine to make noodles; ramen noodles are a little thinner while tsukemen are usually a bit wider. Sprinkle over some more cornflour. Batch together into noodle nests.
Boil the noodles in salted water on a rolling boil for about 45 seconds just before serving. The noodles will continue to cook in the broth. You will usually find your favorite texture after a few attempts, I like it when the noodles are soft but when there is still some bite left to them.
The noodles can be stored wrapped in plastic in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Very suitable for making a big batch.

Step 7

6-2/3 cups mushroom broth
4 portions ramen noodles

1 tbsp vegetable oil
7oz fresh shiitake mushrooms
10-1/2oz silken tofu, diced
7oz enoki mushrooms, separated
2-3/4oz mizuna leaves or fresh spinach
1 batch deep-fried shallots
4 tbsp furikake

Step 8

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil for the noodles.
Heat up the broth in a separate pan.Fill four bowls with hot water to warm them. Discard the water when it’s time to plate up.Heat the oil in a frying pan and sweat the shiitake over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
Ladle the broth into the bowls.
Boil the noodles for approximately 45 seconds in the pan of water on a rolling boil. It’s best to use a noodle basket or a sieve so that you can reuse the water and quickly take out the noodles once done. You only have a window of a few seconds to make sure they’re not under- or overcooked. Drain thoroughly and transfer the noodles to the broth bowls.
Top with the shiitake, tofu, (raw) enoki, mizuna or spinach, deep-fried shallots and furikake

Step 9

This recipe is excerpted with permission from Ramen: Japanese Noodles and Small Dishes.

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