The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

Vegetarian ramen

October 8th, 2009  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  7 Comments


If there are songs that you play over and over again, there are also recipes that can possess you like an unstoppably catchy number. This year, my high-rotation favourite has to be a certain noodle dish, courtesy of cookbook writer Kanou Kumiko (also, known as Yumiko Kano/Yumiko Kanoh), but I never would’ve discovered it if the amazing Bree of ii-ne-kore hadn’t diligently and thoughtfully translated the recipe from Japanese and posted it on her wonderful blog.

Bree described it as the Vegetarian Ramen Holy Grail and I have to second that epic call.

I love ramen but there are very few places that offer a strictly vego version of it – most restaurants pride themselves on serving stock made from long-simmered pork bones (and 15 hours is a long time). And, on the rare chance you can get a bowl of noodles that isn’t soup-slick with animal fat, it’s often an underflavoured or oversalted affair.


This is why I love this recipe so much. The stock is cleverly made from leek and ginger, gently fried in sesame oil and chilli. It’s definitely not insipid or wimpy, like a lot of vegetable stock can be. If you ladle your spoon through noodle broth, and start tasting it, each mouthful brings full-volumed flavour. It’s from the multiple hits of sweetened leek, punchy ginger, spiky chilli and subtle richness of the sesame oil.

Bree very generously allowed me to use her translation here (thank you, Bree!). If you are Japanese-savvy, you can find more details about the book the original recipe is from – Kanou Kumiko’s vegetarian-friendly Saizai Lunch: Quick Bento and Homecooking Recipes – by clicking here. In exciting news, Bree is working on a small vego Japanese recipe book – so stay tuned to her brilliant blog for details!


Soy Bean and Miso Ramen
(published in Japanese in Saizai Lunch by Kanou Kumiko,
ISBN 978-4-388-06040-5, translated by Bree from ii-ne-kore )

10 cm leek, sliced thinly
1 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced thinly
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ red chilli, seeds removed, chopped finely
100g cooked soy beans
2 cups combu dashi
1 packet fresh or 1 round dried organic ramen
baby greens, for garnish

2-3 tbsp miso (whichever type you prefer)
2 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds, crushed lightly in mortar and pestle*
a little salt and pepper

Heat the sesame oil in a frypan and add leek and ginger. Cook over medium-high heat. When this mixture gives off a nice smell, add the chilli and fry a little longer. Add the cooked soy beans to the frypan an cook, then add the combu dashi and the ingredients from a).

If using fresh ramen, reheat in boiling water and drain. If using dried ramen, cook in unsalted boiling water for 3-4 minutes until al dente and drain. place in serving bowl. Pour soybean and miso mix over the top of the ramen and garnish with fresh baby salad leaves. Sprinkle over some shichimi** and serve.

This recipe makes one bowl of ramen, double quantities for a two-person lunch.***

*When Bree originally posted it, this is what she wrote, but on reflection, she thinks she might have mistranslated and that you should use tahini instead. Because I am lazy, and seem to only use my mortar and pestle as decoration (or a potential burglar-thwarting weapon), I always just used toasted sesame seeds for this step.

**You can get this at Asian grocers. I also add fried garlic, although I am not sure how strictly Japanese that is!

***As you can see from my pictures, this is a recipe where you can tailor it to your vegie-favourites or whatever is in your fridge. In my photos, you can spot evidence of enoki and ramen-friendly corn.

Thank you so much to Bree for letting me share this recipe. Please check out her excellent ii-ne-kore blog, especially if you love Japanese things!

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  1. Will says:

    Awesome. I know someone who’ll be pretty damn happy with this one.

  2. JLuu Avenue says:

    I am totally going to make this. Thank you!

  3. ii-ne-kore says:

    oishii! thanks so much for your lovely mention, and such a great post. i am really happy you are enjoying it as well – it wa such a revelation, to have a really, good, vego ramen. i went back to the recipe, and all good, it is surigoma, which is toasted sesame seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle, so full steam ahead there:) there is another ramen recipe in the book, that looks equally great, using renkon (lotus root) and chilli. will try and translate that one soon, too:) (maybe a bit more carefully than i did the other one!)

  4. amy says:

    OK you’ve sold me. looks divine, and perfect for this wintery weather. i want it NOW!

  5. Rory says:

    I have been meaning to try this recipe ever since you posted it and tonight was the night. It was pretty special. There were a few things I didn’t get quite right though:
    – I got sticky soy beans, I couldn’t find any green ones – any advice on labelling/packaging?
    – instead of combu dashi I got combu tsuyu – would there be any difference?
    Thanks for taking the time to (re)post the recipe 🙂

  6. leetranlam says:

    Thanks everyone for your comments, especially ii-ne-kore for your above-and-beyond extra translation note, too. I hope everyone has enjoyed making it – Will, I know, definitely has.
    Hope the following bits help you out, Rory – I use frozen edamame from my nearest Asian supermarket. It’s already shelled and even though I can’t read any of the Japanese on the label, you can see through the plastic that it is the right thing. It seems to be something that can be found in most Asian supermarket freezers, I think?
    To be honest, I have never used combu tsuyu, so I can’t comment, but the konbu dashi is pretty subtle, and a friend of mine substitutes it with the same amount of very light vegetable stock (you don’t want anything too salty or too powerful, because the main flavour of the ramen should be the ginger/leek/chilli).
    Hope that helps!

  7. Thanks for this wonderful recipe… I’ll make it for sure…

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Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

All the good pictures on this blog are by photography ace (and patient boyfriend), Will Reichelt, (all the dodgy ones can be credited to me)!

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This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

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