When you’re trying to eat healthy and you want ramen…..
How’s your January going for you so far? Mine has been super productive- lots of cooking and photographing. Feels like a good start to a new year.
I’m on the last week of my annual January Whole30, and I woke up craving my favorite ramen noodle place. So I came up with my own healthy version of ramen that’s savory, light, and full of flavor.
You guys know that in my world, soup is everything. It’s the best way to get all the vegetables and nutrients into your diet. It’s easy to cook, so hearty and filling, and perfect for batch cooking. You gotta love a hot, cozy bowl of soup.
Here’s the deets on my WHOLE30 compliant ramen bowl:
broth... soup is always about the broth. A good quality broth (homemade chicken or veggie OR Kettle and Fire) can make or break a soup. My go to is usually a homemade chicken broth, but I wanted to do something a little special for this ramen bowl, so I made my own version of Japanese dashi with kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms. You can totally use whatever broth you like.
vegetables…. so many vegetables. Some cooked and some raw to give a nice variety of textures and flavors. And you can substitute and add of your favorites.
the noodles… I love zucchini noodles in place of traditional ramen noodles to make this dish gluten and grain free. So easy to make with a good spiralizer. Feel free to use whatever noodles make you happy.
protein… every good ramen bowl has the perfect soft boiled egg. Boil water, gently place egg in, set timer for 6 minutes, remove and place in ice water bath to stop cooking. Perfect every time. I like to add leftover chicken from dinner into my ramen. This makes it more hearty and filling. Feel free to add any steak or seafood that you like as well.
umami…. you may have heard this word before, especially in relation to Japanese cuisine. This ramen bowl has just the right amount of umami flavor to make you want to come back again and again.
What is Umami?
Umami literally means “pleasant savory taste” in Japanese. It is used to describe savory taste – one of the 5 basic tastes along with sweet, spur, bitter, and salty. Technically, umami refers to glutamate — a type of amino acid, which occurs naturally in many foods such as meat, fish, vegetables and various dairy products. Any food in which glutamic acid occurs naturally or after cooking, aging, or fermentation is considered umami. Interestingly, scientists have discovered receptors housed in our taste buds that respond specifically to umami, just as there are receptors for sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Umami has been describes as having a mild but lasting after taste that elevates food to the next level of satisfaction.
What is Dashi?
Dashi is the broth at the heart of Japanese cooking. It is a clear, subtle broth infused with savory umami flavor that gives Japanese food it’s distinct taste, adding richness and depth to any dish. It originated over 800 years ago from the combination of pure Japanese spring water and kombu. The most common dashi is now made with a combination of water, kombu, and bonito fish flakes. You can also find dashi made from shiitake mushrooms or anchovies and sardines.
My personal preference is a simple dashi made from kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms. That’s the recipe I will share for this ramen bowl.
What is Kombu?
Kombu is a type of dried kelp loaded with glutamic acids, which is what gives the dashi it’s rich umami flavor. A little goes a long way. You only need 2 small pieces (about 2 inched wide and 6 inched long) to make a quart of dashi. It can be found in Asian markets, many health food stores and online. Look for kombu with plenty of the cloudy white crystals over the surface to get the best flavor.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms:
Using shiitake mushrooms is a great alternative to bonito fish flakes. Dries shiitake mushrooms when rehydrated in cold water impart a wonderful, rich flavor that perfectly compliments the umami flavor of kombu. I recommend rehydrating your dried mushrooms in cold water ONLY and not cooking it like some recipes suggest. I also recommend rehydrating them overnight for the best flavor. Use only dried shiitake mushrooms as fresh shiitakes do not have the same depth of flavor.
How to Make Kombu Shiitake Dashi:
The recipe is super simple. No cooking involved. Just soaking. For one quart (4 cups) you will need a quart of water, 2 strips of kombu, and about 6 dried shiitake mushrooms. Simply soak overnight in the fridge, strain, and use as needed. So easy!
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A simple and satisfying ramen bowl full of vegetables, protein, and a savory broth. Gluten free. Paleo. Whole30 compliant.
- 2 soft boiled eggs
- 1 cup leftover or rotisserie chicken
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 1 cup green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 3 tsp ghee or any fat of choice
- 2 baby bok choy, quartered
- 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced (or you can use the rehydrated shiitake mushrooms from the dashi)
- 4 cups kombu shiitake broth (recipe below) or any good quality broth you like
- 2 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- coconut aminos – to taste (like this)
- salt to taste
- red pepper flakes and sesame seeds for garnish
- Prepare all ingredients: make soft boiled eggs, slice leftover chicken, julienne carrots, slice cabbage, slice green onions, and cook bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. Melt 2 tsp of ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Add bok choy and 1 tbsp of water and saute until just wilted. Remove from pan. Add remaining teaspoon of ghee into pan and add sliced shiitkes. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until soft and tender. Set aside.
- Add dashi (or broth of choice), zucchini noodles, and ginger to a medium soup pot. Heat until steaming hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and add coconut aminos and salt to taste to balance flavors.
- Divide broth between two large soup bowls. Arrange bok choy, shiitakes, carrots, cabbage, chicken, eggs, and green onions into the broth. Garnish with red pepper flakes and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- How to soft boil an egg: Boil water, gently place egg in, set timer for 6 minutes allowing water to gently simmer, remove egg, and place in ice water bath to stop cooking. Perfect every time.
- Coconut aminos is a soy sauce alternative. You can also use a wheat free tamari if soy is not an issue for you and you are not doing a Whole30.
- I love this ramen with the kombu shiitake dashi recipe below, but feel free to use any good quality broth you like. I also recommend homemade bone broth, veggie broth, and Kettle and Fire.
- 4 cups of filtered water
- 2 strips of kombu (about 2x6 inches)
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
Place all ingredients in a glass jar, cover, and place in fridge overnight (8-12 hours.) Strain and use as needed.
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