Mushroom Miso Ramen

I love a good bowl of ramen. Lucky for me that ramen shops have been popping up like weeds in Chicago.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 3

This bowl might not be as satisfying as a fatty, porky tonkotsu, but it is certainly a lot healthier and quicker. Some of the ingredients are definitely specialty items that I picked up at the Japanese and Vietnamese grocery stores. You can easily make substitutions for the harder-to-find ingredients, as noted below. At the very least, the dried shiitake mushrooms are needed to make a tasty broth.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 2

Mushroom Miso Ramen

Notes:

-Mirin is a sweet rice wine that can pretty easily be found at any asian grocery store or even whole foods. The Seattle Times has suggestions for substitutions.
-There are a few varieties of miso paste. Aka miso is a red miso and shiro miso is a white miso. Awase miso is a mixture of aka and shiro miso, which is what I used here.
-If you can’t find ramen noodles sold individually, just buy the college-standard ramen packages that have the flavor pouches. Same stuff. Just be sure to discard the flavor pouches.
-Any variety of mushrooms will work here for the toppings.
-If pea shoots aren’t available, a more common topping would be sliced green onions.

Broth:

8-9 small dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup dried bonito flakes (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
1 stalk lemongrass, outer skins removed and sliced in half
9 cups water
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons awase miso paste 

Combine the dried mushrooms, bonito flakes, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and water in a large pot and heat until water comes just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

Mushroom Miso Ramen 5

Mushroom Miso Ramen 6

Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. You can keep the now-rehydrated shiitakes and incorporate those into the soup if you wish, or save them for later for another use. Add the mirin and soy sauce and stir to combine.

Remove a ladle of the broth into a small bowl. Whisk in the miso paste until it is smooth, and then combine it with the rest of the broth. Set the broth aside and keep it warm.

Toppings:

ramen noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 package cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 package maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms
1 package bunashimeji (beech mushrooms)
baby bok choy
pea shoots or sliced green onions
fried, puffed tofu (optional)
1 package enoki mushrooms
sriracha

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then cook the ramen noodles for ~3 minutes. Remove, rinse with water, and set aside.

Pour the oil in a large wok or frying pan and stir fry the cremini, maitake, and bunashimeji mushrooms. Set aside.

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Blanch the baby bok choy in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately cool in an ice bath.

Cut the puffed tofu into whichever shape you prefer.

Ramen Assembly:

Put the noodles in the bottom of a large bowl. Scoop a few ladles of broth on top, then add your preferred toppings. If you need an extra kick, squirt on some sriracha. Serve hot with chopsticks and a soup spoon.

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Friday Night Pizzas

I apologize up front for the really crappy pictures in this post. With these amazing pizzas coming out of the oven, I couldn’t be bothered with taking nicer photos!

I absolutely adore Friday nights spent with good food and wine on the couch. That party bug that used to tell me to go  out every Friday night has apparently died because I no longer have that urge. I haven’t had it, in fact, for a while – ever since I started that 9-5 job a few years ago that required me to get out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7 am on Fridays. Who has the energy to go out after that? Not me, that’s for sure. Plus, I started to really enjoy waking up earl(ier) on Saturdays to do things like go for a run or get work done. Adulthood, I suppose.

So, equipped with some $13 Pinot Noir (which was really quite good), a movie, and these awesome pizzas, my Friday night was destined to be great.

There isn’t really a recipe here… I bought my multi-grain pizza dough (with flax seeds!) from Whole foods and randomly piled on toppings. A few key items for these pizzas: 1) 3-4 toppings, MAX; 2) garlic(!); 3) a super hot oven + pizza stone; and 4) high quality ingredients. I divided my dough into two smaller balls and then made half-and-half pizzas on those two rolled out doughs. I drizzled this spicy olive oil as a base for each pizza, then added toppings.

I think Pizza 1 turned out to be my favorite. Spend the time looking for good quality canned San Marzano tomatoes that have no preservatives – read the label, it should only include tomatoes (and maybe a basil leaf). They taste incredibly fresh… I could have eaten this pizza without the cheese, even!

Pizza 1

hand crushed san marzano tomatoes
kalamata olives
fresh mozzarella balls
garlic slices

Pizza 2

proscuitto
goat cheese (chevre) chunks
garlic slices

Pizza 3

fresh heirloom tomato slices
fresh mozzarella balls
artichoke hearts
kalamata olives

Pizza 4

shitake mushrooms
dinosaur kale shreds
goat cheese (chevre) chunks
garlic slices

To bake, crank up your oven as high as it will go – mine goes to 550 – and let your pizza stone warm up. If you’re not using a pizza stone, crank up the heat anyway. Pop the pizza in the oven for 5-7 minutes depending on your heat levels. To cut them up, I find it helps to let the pizza rest for a few minutes to allow the cheese to set a bit.

Mushroom Risotto

I have been meaning to try a mushroom risotto for about a year now. I’ve had that Arborio rice sitting in my pantry for a good 12 months or so; I’ve just been lazy, you know? You hear about what hard work risotto is, how time-consuming the recipes are, and I just never find myself at that perfect intersection of wanting to make it and having enough time.

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The Saturday before I left for Colombia, I found myself with the time and motivation and a bundle of mushrooms to boot, so risotto was finally in the cards. We served it alongside a really nice peppercorn and rosemary crusted pork tenderloin, the recipe for which I’ll share at a later date.

The recipe was really tasty, and you know what? Risotto is not that hard! It is time consuming, though. I always thought that risottos had to have loads of heavy cream to taste so creamy delicious, but apparently the starchiness of Arborio rice makes it taste so decadent. I didn’t add any cream (only a bit of parmesan) and it tasted really great – proof that you don’t need loads of fat for things to taste good. I also added spinach to add some green and nutrients. Just barely wilted, these leaves don’t really add much flavor compared to the mushrooms, but they certainly up the health factor. Next time, I’m going to try this with barley or brown rice and see what the effect is.

Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

adapted, generously, from Food and Wine

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
6 cups stock (I used a store bought, organic chicken broth, but I can imagine homemade would be amazing)
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 ounces fresh baby spinach, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes. Save the water.

In a saucepan, warm the stock to just under a boil. If it starts to boil, that’s fine – mostly, you want it warm so that the risotto cooks continuously rather than starting over every time you add more stock. Keep it on low heat.

In large saucepan (I used my big soup pot), melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, until coated.

In a separate pan, cook the cremini and shitaki mushrooms in butter on medium, slowly carmelizing them. Let these guys cook away on low heat the entire time you’re cooking the rice. , stirring, until they are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the white wine to the rice and simmer until it has almost evaporated. Add the reserved mushroom water, and 1 cup of the hot stock. Stir constantly until the liquid is completely soaked into the rice. Then add another cup of stock. Stir. Repeat. Continue this process until all the stock has been used up and the risotto is plump and tender.

At the end, stir in the mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and spinach. Serve.