Here my friend’s is a noodle bowl. It’s sort of a half soup, half noodle bowl. More noodle, than soup. One made with ramen noodles, the one thing that brings me back to my 20’s, when half my packed lunches comprised of salads made from ramen noodles — cooked, drained, then tossed with that little packet of seasoning (shrimp flavored of course) and then mixed with sweet red pepper, a can of baby corn, loads of green onions, and sometimes a handful of greens. That was my go-to ramen dish back then.
Going back even further, to the high school days, it was plain old shrimp flavored (yes, that was my favorite and I tried them all) ramen noodles boiled and served in their broth. I think I overdosed on that number. And now, what feels like two decades later, I finally tried a bowl again.
So here I go giving ramen noodles another chance, but this time I picked up organic noodles made with spelt. To my surprise, they taste exactly the same. The difference is, besides being healthier, that instead of tossing them in a packaged seasoning, I’ve created my own version, a less brothy, less soupy one. A version with some of those good-for-you flavors, thanks to shiitake mushrooms (also for their umami factor) and my current can’t-get-enough-of-this-right-now Chinese cabbage (also called Napa cabbage). I’m in love with its mild and sweet flavor and tender texture. It’s the perfect last minute addition to soups and since it’s great raw, it adds plus points to any salad as a fantastic alternative to conventional greens.
Chinese Cabbage Noodle Bowl
1 tablespoon sesame oil
200 g shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
4 green onions, chopped (greens reserved for garnish)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons miso paste (brown miso, sold in Asian stores)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth (500 ml)
3 cups water (750 ml)
1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek chili paste (optional)
250 g Mie-Nudeln or other instant Asian-style noodles (I used organic spelt noodles)
1 Chinese cabbage, shredded (also called Napa cabbage)
sesame seeds, to garnish
1. In a large soup pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once or twice Add the green onion, garlic and ginger to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant, adding 1 tablespoon of water if things begin to stick. Add the miso paste and soy sauce and stir to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
2. Add the vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, add the Sambal Oelek (if using), and the noodles, cook for 2 minutes, then add the cabbage. Cook for 3 more minutes until the noodles and cabbage are tender.
NOTE: The instant noodles I used took a total of 5 minutes to cook, so check the package beforehand in case cooking time should be adjusted.
3. Remove from the heat and divide into soup bowls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, garnish with the remaining green onion, season the noodle bowl with sesame seeds and enjoy!