I absolutely LOVE ramen. It's one of my favorite dishes in Japan, and fortunately more and more vegan ramen places are popping up in the country. While ramen has its roots in China, because of the use of Chinese noodles, the Japanese have turned it into their own traditional dish. Originally the base of the dish consists of Chinese wheat noodles often in a meat or fish broth, but many variations exist throughout the country such as the famous Hakata ramen from Fukuoka, a milky ramen soup made from pork bones. Other popular, and vegetarian, variations of ramen are Shoyu (soy sauce), Shio (salt) and Miso ramen. As toppings, many ingredients can be used. Often used vegetarian toppings are green onions, boiled eggs, bean sprouts, fermented bamboo shoots, nori (dried seaweed), corn, shiitake and wakame.
Since I was craving spicy food while walking around in our local Asian supermarket, I decided to make my own spicy ramen noodles. I already made miso ramen a couple of weeks ago and while I love it, miso and japanese spicy don't go too well together in my opinion. So I had to think of something new. One thing I'm hooked on is the Korean Gochujang (red chili paste) which is great for bibimbap or spicy Korean rice cakes for example. Since I don't use it too often, one box of paste can last in my fridge for over 6 months, so why not create some more dishes with it!? It probably tastes great as a ramen broth too, right? So I got my veggies and wheat noodles and went home to cook some delicious ramen. I can tell you, it took me by surprise how amazingly tasty (and spicy!) it was :).
1. Cut the tofu into cubes and add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, a bit of garlic (powder) and oil to it. Stir and let it sit for a while
2. Cut onion and garlic into tiny pieces and fried the onions for a couple of minutes before I added the garlic.
3. Add half a can of diced tomatoes and let it simmer for about a minute.
4. Add the dried shiitake mushrooms and the vegetable stock (don't add too much water since you don't need a huge amount of soup)
5. Combine the gochujang with the soysauce and hoisin (and some broth to make it easier to mix) and add to the broth. Add more soy sauce and/or salt if needed. And more gochujang if you want it more spicy! :)
6. Let it simmer for a while, while you cut the toppings and fry the tofu.
7. Now add the noodles to the broth and cook until done (follow the instructions on the package).
8. Put the noodles into a both, cover it with some broth and top with all your amazing toppings! For garnishing you can use some sesame seeds.