The girls and I have been under the weather for what seems like forever. We’ve been jumping from sore throats to coughs to sniffles the past four weeks. In an attempt to cure us I’ve been making elderberry syrup and chicken and vegetable stock (for everyone), and Ginger Hot Toddys and my Sore Throat Remedy (for me), around the clock. There have been a lot of rainy days spent inside with stock simmering on the stove and Les Misérables playing from the speakers or the live stage version booming from the television (Gigi’s obsession with the musical continues… she’s going to be Cosette for Halloween). There’s also been plenty of cuddling, which is pretty much the only good part of being sick.
Most of the stock that I’ve made has been getting a boost and turned into ramen broth. Ramen has become a true staple around our house. We’ve eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner multiple times during the past few of weeks. The homemade broth is loaded with ginger and garlic, which are sure soothing and fortifying whether or not you feel under the weather, and I sincerely hope you don’t.
We vary our ramen depending on the day, and what we have in the refrigerator. The simplest approach is to top the rich broth and creamy ramen noodles with a little scallion, super thin slices of spicy thai red chili, and a pinch of toasted sesame seeds; this is my favorite way to eat ramen for breakfast or lunch. For dinner I quickly fry up some marinated tofu and serve it on the side of the soup. Sometimes we spice it up with a little Sriracha. The variations are really simple and there are so many possibilities!
One “trick” I’ve started doing is that I make ramen broth when I make my stock, then I put the ramen-ready broth straight into the freezer. You could do this ahead with store-bought stock as well, although nothing beats homemade stock which is really easy and inexpensive to make. When we want ramen for a meal, which is all the time, I just pull broth from the freezer and while it defrosts and rises to a simmer I cook the ramen noodles and slice up the toppings. It makes a true from-scratch meal in about fifteen minutes with minimal dishes to clean.
The recipe below is for the version I usually make for dinner, with fried tofu in a sweet, salty marinade, but you could play with whatever toppings and variations you like. Enjoy and stay healthy! This recipe is equally delicious with chicken stock or vegetable broth, depending on your taste and preference.
RAMEN WITH TOFU
For the Broth.
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2” piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 green onions, trimmed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
For the Tofu.
1 package firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave or honey
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup corn starch
canola or vegetable oil
toasted sesame seeds
green onions, white and light green part only, very thinly sliced on the bias
thai red chili, seeded and very thinly sliced (optional)
Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
In a medium sized pot, heat the broth to a simmer. Stir in the ginger, green onions, and garlic, and simmer the broth, covered, for thirty minutes.
Turn off the heat and whisk in the miso until it’s incorporated. Strain the broth using a fine mesh strainer, and discard the ginger, green onions, garlic, and any bits of miso that stay behind in the strainer.
Return the broth to the pot and whisk in the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar. Cover and let it sit while you cook your ramen noodles and tofu.
Heat a pot of water to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together the toasted sesame oil, honey or agave, and soy sauce for the tofu, and set it aside until the last minute.
Put the corn starch in a medium bowl. Press the block of tofu with paper towels to soak out some of the water before slicing the tofu into 1” cubes. Toss the cubes around in the bowl with the corn starch to coat, transfer them to a plate. In a large non-stick skillet, heat a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil over very high heat. Carefully place the tofu cubes in the hot oil and gently toss until the corn starch has crisped up and the edges are just starting to darken, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain for a few minutes.
Toss the ramen noodles into the pot of boiling water and cook, according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles and transfer to bowls. Give the broth a good stir before adding plenty of it to the bowls along with the noodles. Top the ramen with green onions, sesame seeds, and chili or Sriracha if you choose.
Quickly toss the tofu in the marinade and serve everything immediately.
RAMEN WITH TOFU