I grew up with package ramen where you added boiling water and the flavor packet. Not until I was in my forties did I realize that there was more to ramen noddles than what I had been eating for decades. Ramen noddles are so versatile. The noodles aren’t often the stars of the dish. It is the toppings. Fresh, crunchy toppings such as bean sprouts, carrots, radishes, chili, and cilantro. Typically boiled eggs and sliced meat are added. Not in this plant-based Easy Japanese Ramen.
Easy Japanese Ramen
Easy Japanese Ramen is a filling meal that can be made in less than 20 minutes. Ramen is a perfect anytime meal such as a quick lunch or weekday meal. You can keep it simple or go crazy. Like with any soup, the broth is key. While you could make your own veg broth, I use store-brought veg stock, but I add squeezable ginger, miso, and tamari (or soy sauce) to make the broth special. And I use the .40 cent packaged ramen noodles. The favors and textures are complex. The flavorful broth with the soft noodles topped with crunchy bean sprouts, carrots, and cilantro is wonderful. Every bite is different. It is up to you as how you want to make your ramen. I use what I have on hand. You could add other veg as well. You can make it your own.
Easy Japanese Ramen and other soups are easy and filling meals to enjoy especially in the colder months.
Newport Noodle Bars
Noodle bars are becoming very popular and if you want a fancier ramen experience then they are a place to go. I’m lucky to live in Newport, Rhode Island with a diverse food scene. We have two ramen noodle places within walking distance of our house. Boru is the closest to me (36 Broadway) and was the first noodle bar I’ve ever visited. Their noodles are handmade and topped with fresh ingredients. All made in house. The other noodle bar is Yagi (20 Long Wharf Mall) which I hope to try soon as the reviews have been wonderful.
- 8 cups veg stock
- 4 tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons miso paste
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 packages of ramen noodles
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons water
- 4 green onions
- 1 large carrot grated
- 1 pack of bean sprouts
- Handful of cilantro
- 1. To make the broth, first put the veg stock and 2 tablespoons tamari together with the ginger, the juice of 1 lime and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup into a suitable sized pan and bring to the boil.
- 2. Slice the mushrooms.
- 3. Heat a nonstick pan on high heat Put adding the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring regularly (if it starts to stick add 1 tsp of water).
- 4. Mix 3 tablespoons tamari, the 3 tbsp water, juice of 1 lime, and the 1 tablespoon maple syrup in a bowl and add to the mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes or until most of the sauce has been absorbed.
- 5. Once the broth is boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- 6. Slice the green onions, grated the carrots, and rise the bean sprouts.
- 7. Put noodles in bowls and ladle the broth to each bowl.
- 8. Add toppings to ramen then finish with the cooked mushrooms.
Recently I’ve noticed poke bowls on menus. And I became intrigued. Traditionally, a poke bowl is raw marinated fish that been cubed and layered with rice and pickles. Its origin is from Hawaiian where fishermen would season the cut-offs from their daily catch eating it on their boats. Poke is considered their national dish. On a days it is such a diet staple that it is freshly made in most convenience stores.
I’ll be honest, but the idea of raw fish is not appealing to me and my guys. And that these days being mostly plant-based, I’m not eating a lot of fish. But you can still have a plant-based poke bowl. It is a lovely way to pack in amazing flavors and textures. And a poke bowl is all about different textures in every bite. It isn’t a boring meal.
To make a plant-based poke bowl is easy and quick. Swap out the fish for tofu or tempeh, You can use white or brown rice though I like the nuttiness of brown. Pickled items are important so adding picked red onions and sauerkraut. I always have picked red onions on hand, but I’ll share a 5-min pickled recipe that you can do while making this dish. Instead of using white cabbage, I prefer to use red cabbage beet carrot sauerkraut as it add a nice flavor and a burst of color. To bring a different sense of texture, add a sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, micro greens, and cilantro. Adding a can of kidney beans gives it more nutrition. The sauce for this dish is sweet chili sauce and tamari. The tofu or tempeh and beans are cooked in the sauce with garlic and ginger.
This recipe is based on The Happy Pear’s “Easy poke for weight loss in 5 min” recipe. I encourage you to check out the recipes.
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup Sauerkraut
- Block of Tempeh or Tofu - If using tofu then drain well
- 12 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 4 tbsp tamari
- 1/2 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Small red onion
- 50 ml rice vinegar
- Handful cherry tomatoes
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- - Prepare brown rice. You can use pre-cooked or make it in rice cooker like I do.
- Picked Red Onion
- - Slice red onion thinly placing in glass jar then add the rice vinegar and water if need to make sure the onions are covered.
- Tempeh or Tofu
- - Slice up tempeh or tofu
- - Head pan on medium high.
- - Add tempeh or tofu until it browns
- - Add garlic and ginger then the sweet chili/tamari sauce mixture coating
- - Remove onto plate then add the kidney beans coating them until they are warm
- Ensemble the bowl with all the goodies.
Spicy Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Rice Soup
This Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Rice Soup recipe comes with a warning. If you are not careful with the brand of Thai red curry paste then it will knock your socks off after one sip. How do I know this? I made this soup for friends. They had just got off a transatlantic flight and nothing is better than a nice bowl of soup. Usually this is the case. We were all crying from the spice. Even my son who can drink hot sauce was like, “Mom, holy cow this is hot.”
Let’s sort out the whole red curry paste situation. Due to the amounts of curry I made, I buy my curry pastes at the Asian grocery store. It is cheaper and much larger than the tiny bottles of Taste of Thai Red Curry Paste in the grocery store. And that’s where the fault in the recipe presents. Depending on what brand of curry paste you use, it is going to change the quantity. The original recipe which I have a feeling was designed for Taste of Thai brand calls for 3 tablespoons. That is a brand adapted to American tastes. When you add 3 tablespoons of Thai red curry purchased in a huge tube at the Asian store, it makes the soup uneatable except to those who have no taste buds. So if you are using Asian store curry paste, then 1/2 to 1 teaspoon will be enough. Trust me on this.
Once the level of spice is correct, this is an amazingly yummy soup. As in it becomes a soup that causes cravings. It is super good. Perfect for winter. There is nothing fancy about this soup outside of the curry paste. It is chicken, carrots, butternut squash, onions, fresh ginger, brown sugar, fish sauce, veggie broth, and wild rice.
Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Rice Soup
- - 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- - 4 carrots chopped
- - 4 cups butternut squash cubed
- - 2 small onions diced
- - 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
- - 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (see note)
- - 3 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
- - 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- - 2/3 cup wild rice or wild rice blend blend used in photos
- - 4 cups vegetable stock
- - 2 cans coconut milk
- - 1 tablespoon lime juice
- NOTE: If using Taste of Thai brand then 3 tablespoons is OK, but if using Asian grocery store purchased red curry paste then decrease to 1/2-1 teaspoons. Trust me on this.
- - Combine all ingredients except the coconut milk
- - Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours
- - Stir coconut milk and lime juice in cooking for 10 minutes
- - Shred the chicken
- - Serve with lime wedges and cilantro
Worth the Effort Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Balls over Rice Sticks
Growing up in Newark, Delaware, there was a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant called Saigon. It was my first exposure to Vietnamese food over thirty years ago now. It started my love affair with southeast Asian food. Saigon closed its doors in 2016 when the owners retired. It was a very sad moment for me. Many wonderful memories were made over tea, spring rolls, and lemon grass chicken. Long dinners filled with laughter and gossip with friends were common. Family dinners to celebrate any sort of good news happened there. It was just a special place.
The Vietnamese-style shrimp balls recipe was originally made with beef; however, I have always loved shrimp balls from my experience at Vietnamese restaurants. This is made with a slice of bacon, but I am sure it can be left out and taste just as well. In this recipe, I have used cooked and raw shrimp for the shrimp balls. I have to say that I find the cooked shrimp easier to work with and makes the balls firmer.
You serve this with rice vermicelli or thin rice stick noodles. Place the shrimp balls on the cooked noodles then drizzle the spicy fish sauce then add chopped basil and cilantro. Accompany with sweet and spicy cucumbers for added green and flavor.
Bring a little southeast Asia onto your table. A great meal to share with friends.
Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Balls over Rice Sticks Recipe
- 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bacon slice
- 1 pound shrimp, shelled
- Cooking spray
- 10-ounce rice vermicelli or thin rice stick noodles
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Add bacon and shrimp; pulse to combine.
- Divide shrimp mixture into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a (1-inch) ball.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.
- Add meatballs
- Cook 10 minutes or until meatballs are done, browning on all sides.
- Cook noodles in boiling water 6 minutes; drain.
- Combine warm water and next 5 ingredients (water through 4 garlic cloves), stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves.
- Combine basil and cilantro.
- Divide noodles evenly among 4 plates; top each serving with 3 meatballs.
- Drizzle each serving with about 1/3 cup sauce; sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons herb mixture.
Sweet and Spicy Cucumber
- 1 seedless English cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Toss gently to coat.
- 1/2 warm water
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
Combine and mix until sugar is dissolved.
Slow Cooker Sweet Spicy Pork Goodness
Making dinner easy is priority during busy times. And that’s where slow cooker sweet spicy pork eases your stress. Weekends tend to get busy around the holidays here no matter how much we try to keep things simple. Same for you?
The slow cooker is one way I ease that stress. During the holidays, it is really easy to fall into eating junky foods that, while are tasty, they aren’t healthy. The junky foods are deceiving and feel satisfying, but soon they start slow you down. Slow cookers help you stay on course instead of picking up stuff on the way home when you are starving. Get the slow cooker items ready the night before in dump in the morning or do it all in the morning in less than 10 minutes.
I like to use organic meats when I eat meat and that includes pork. Normally, I use pork shoulder, but they looked a bit fatty for my taste. I went with the tenderloin instead and it worked nicely. The meat was tender and tasty.
At this point, Asian spices for the most part have gone mainstream. I can get Chinese Five Spice Powder and Garlic-Chili Sauce at my local grocery store. That said, I usually pick them up at the Asian grocery store when I make a trek there. Bok choy is becoming more readily available, too.
This recipe is good enough for company. One more reason to slow cooker sweet spicy pork. It is tasty, simple, and fancy.
Slow Cooker Sweet Spicy Pork Recipes
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 1/2pounds pork shoulder or tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 medium head bok choy thinly sliced
- Cut pork into small pieces and chop boy choy.
- In slow cooker, mix the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the pork tossing to coat.
- Cook until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
- About 30-minutes before serving, cook the rice and add bok choy.
- Serve with the rice.
Vegetable Pad Thai
Vegetable Pad Thai was on the menu tonight. My guys wanted Thai, but they did not want a soupy curry. Pad Thai was the natural alternative. It is a sweet, spicy, and sour noodle dish beloved by everyone who tries it.
What is great about Pad Thai is it is so versatile. Most vegetables that you have in your vegetable bin in the fridge will work, so it is an ideal dish when your bin is full and things need to be cooked. You can use squash, zucchini, bean sprouts, green onions, broccoli, savory cabbage, etc. to stir-fry. It is important to make sure your veg are sliced thinly and/or very small.
The sauce is important. It is sweet, sour, and spicy. A wonderful combination of flavors that will bring your mouth alive. Pad Thai sauce is fish sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, coconut sugar, vinegar, and broth.
Once all the ingredients are combined, it can be garnished with cilantro and Sriracha sauce. Yum. A simple meal in 30-minutes or less.
* You can add chicken or shrimp to the dish. Marinate with some of the Pad Thai sauce. Stir-fry them.
Vegetable Pad Thai Recipe
- 8 ounces Pad Thai noodles
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 red pepper thinly sliced
- 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1 can baby corn raised and drained
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup peanuts, chopped
- 1 lime juiced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- Sriracha sauce
Pad Thai Sauce
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek or chili paste
- Cook Pad Thai noodles according to package directions.
- As the noodles are softening, heat oil over medium to medium-high in a wok or skillet.
- Cook the garlic until fragrant.
- Add the vegetables cooking until softened then remove from wok.
- While vegetables are cooking prepare the Pad Thai sauce whisking it together.
- Add a little bit of olive oil then cook the drained noodle for about a minute.
- Push the noodle over to one side.
- Add the egg letting it cook for about 30 seconds then fold the egg into the noodles.
- Add the vegetables back to the pan mixing through.
- Stir in peanuts and cilantro.