For Valentine's Day this year, instead of fighting for a table at your favorite restaurant, open up Chappy and schedule a date night in—where you and your date cook dinner together! Here's a perfect recipe for seasonal, vegetarian ramen that's easy to make at home and designed to be light, so as to not compromise your post-dinner activities. One of you can make the broth, the other roasts the mushrooms, one cooks the eggs, the other rinses the noodles ... You'll see. There’ll be some downtime, and we’re sure you’ll find a way to occupy it.
Drink pairing suggestions: Think crisp, like a lager or pilsner beer or sake. Dry cider and rosé are unconventional, but go very nicely with light ramen like this.
Roasted Mushroom and Radicchio Ramen
The bit of butter in the broth here adds necessary flavor and richness, as does the kombu, a sea vegetable you can find in the Asian foods aisles of most US grocery stores. As for the noodles: If you can find fresh ramen noodles—Sun Noodle is a brand sold at lots of grocery stores in the US—use them, but don’t fret it if you can’t. You’ll be perfectly fine using that old college standby Top Ramen (just toss the spice packs into the garbage), and there are some great rice-based ramen noodles from Lotus Foods if you or your date have a gluten intolerance. Serves 2
8 ounces mixed mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shiitake, button)
1 small onion or ½ large, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons butter
4 cups water
Two 4-inch squares kombu
1-½ tablespoons light-colored miso
¾ teaspoon salt
1 small radicchio, sliced into eight wedges through the core, or 2 endive, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
4 to 6 ounces dried or 8 to 12 ounces fresh ramen noodles (see headnote)
2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
Make the broth: Separate the stems from the mushrooms, setting the caps aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the mushroom stems, onion, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, until everything begins to soften and sweat, then pour in the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the kombu, and let stand for 20-30 minutes. Strain out the solids by pouring the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, then return it to the saucepan. Combine a ladleful of it with the miso in a small bowl and whisk until smooth, then pour back into the saucepan (this ensures that the miso dissolves). Add salt, stir well, and taste. The broth should be full-flavored, so add more salt if necessary. Just before serving, reheat the broth, but be careful not to bring it to a boil. (You could also put the finished broth in a microwave-safe pitcher or bowl and reheat it in the microwave.)
Roast the mushrooms and endive: Preheat the oven to 400°F. If using oyster mushrooms, carefully tear them into pieces about the same size as the other mushroom caps. Arrange with the radicchio wedges on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and soy sauce, and mix with your hands to ensure that everything is coated. Transfer to the oven and cook until the mushrooms are juicy and the radicchio or endive is collapsed and tender, about 20 minutes. Just before serving, trim off the cores of the radicchio or endive, so that they fall apart as individual leaves.
Cook the eggs and noodles: Bring a pot of water to boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle boil. Use a slotted spoon to lower in the eggs. Cook for 7 minutes, keeping an eye on the water to maintain an even boil. Use the spoon to remove the eggs, leaving the boiling water on the stove, and transfer to an ice bath to halt the cooking. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until just tender, usually 6 to 8 minutes but check package instructions. Strain and rinse thoroughly with tap water.
Assemble! Just before serving, rinse the noodles under hot tap water to re-warm them, then divide between two bowls. Scatter the mushrooms and radicchio on top. Peel and halve the eggs, and add to the bowls. Ladle the piping-hot broth on top of everything. Garnish with the scallion and serve.
Recipe by Lukas Volger. Photos by Steve Viksjo.