This vegan ramen will be the most delicious bowl of ramen you’ve ever tasted. A vegan version of tantanmen ramen, this soup features a creamy and spicy sesame broth, fresh bok choy, crispy fried tofu and frizzled scallions. Not only that, it’s quick and easy to make!
The best vegan ramen recipe
I know everyone says that their vegan ramen recipe is the best, but this one actually is and I get emails about it all the time!
This vegan ramen soup recipe is completely unique as it is not based on a miso broth.
I went through every recipe on the first two pages of google and every single one of them was miso ramen.
Don’t get me wrong, I love miso, but there are so many different types and variations of ramen soup in Japan that us vegans deserve more than just the same thing over and over again.
And the google results speak to how little effort food bloggers put into researching and innovating their recipes.
I developed my recipe after having a bowl of vegan ramen with a creamy sesame broth at a restaurant.
I had never had ramen in a creamy broth before. It was absolutely delicious and I had to figure out how to make it myself!
Creamy vegan ramen
After researching online for a while, I determined that the creamy ramen from the restaurant was basically a vegan version of tantanmen ramen noodle soup.
Tantanmen is actually Japan’s version of Chinese dan dan noodles.
It features a spicy and creamy sesame broth, ramen noodles, and toppings that generally include minced pork, scallions, and bok choy or spinach.
To make the broth creamy, Japanese white sesame paste, called nerigoma, is used.
Nerigoma is really hard to find. If you have a Japanese market nearby, they may have it there. Or you can order it from amazon.
For this creamy ramen recipe I substituted tahini.
Tahini is not quite the same as nerigoma because the sesame seeds are not roasted quite as long and the flavor is not quite as intense, but it makes a delicious creamy ramen broth anyway!
What you’ll need
This recipe makes a delicious and complexly flavored ramen without requiring a long list of specialty ingredients.
- Vegetable stock: rather than making a vegan dashi, I simplified this recipe by using regular vegetable broth. If you want to take the extra step to make a dashi, there are a lot of good vegan dashi recipes online.
- Extra-firm tofu: This is our pork replacement. Extra firm gives the “meatiest” texture.
- Oil: To fry the tofu and the scallions.
- Garlic and ginger: These aromatics are used to season the tofu.
- Dark miso paste: Dark miso paste, as opposed to white miso paste, is full of umami and exceptional at giving dishes a meaty flavour. I often use it in veganized versions of soups and stews for this purpose.
- Soy sauce: We’ll need soy sauce both to season the tofu and for the ramen broth.
- Sake: This is the only “specialty” ingredient. It adds great flavour to the tofu but I understand not everyone will have it available. It can be substituted for Chinese rice wine, dry sherry, or just replace it with water.
- Scallions: These are fried to add crunch to the ramen and the green tops add freshness.
- Bok choy: The vegetable component of our ramen. I sometimes replace this with broccoli, or you could use spinach or shredded cabbage.
- Tahini: This is what makes our creamy vegan ramen, creamy! I use white tahini.
- Rice vinegar: The acid helps to counter the creaminess of the tahini
- Chili oil: Since this is based off Japan’s version of dan dan noodles, which are spicy, a heat component is necessary. You can substitute this for sriracha sauce.
- Ramen noodles: Your choice of ramen noodles. Dried or fresh, wheat or a gluten-free alternative.
How to make vegan ramen
Like with all ramen recipes, there are several different steps involved in this vegan ramen soup in order to prepare all the different elements. But none of them are complicated! Just follow along:
Prepare the vegan ramen broth
Pour the vegetable stock into a pot and place it over medium-low heat to warm up. You don’t need to bring it to a boil because you don’t want to reduce it. It can sit there warming while you prepare the rest of the soup ingredients.
In a small bowl make the tare. The tare in ramen is a seasoning mixture that is placed in the serving bowls before the rest of the ramen ingredients are added.
Our tare is comprised of tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili oil.
Mix them together well. At first it may seem like the tahini is separating, that’s ok, just keep stirring and it will all come together into a homogenous paste.
Set the tare aside until you’re ready to serve.
Prepare the tofu
Mash the tofu with a fork until it is crumbled and resembles ground pork.
Fry the tofu until it is crispy and golden brown. The best way to do this is over medium-high heat and not stirring it too much. Let it brown on one side before giving it a stir.
Once the tofu is nice and crispy, reduce the heat, push the tofu to the side of the pan and fry the ginger and garlic.
Finally, season the tofu with miso paste dissolved in soy sauce and sake.
When you pour in the liquid, the tofu will soften up a bit so give it a couple more minutes for the liquid to absorb and the outside to crisp up again.
Prepare the vegetables
Once the tofu is fried, wipe out the pan and add a generous layer of oil. Heat the oil over medium-low heat.
Fry the white bottoms of the scallions, which you have previously sliced into matchsticks, until they’re golden brown and crispy.
Remove them to drain on a paper plate.
Bring a medium pot of water the the boil and simmer the bok choi until the stems are tender. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Cook the noodles
In the same water that you cooked the bok choi, cook the noodles according to the package directions.
Put it all together
Great! Now we’ve got all the elements and we’re ready to serve!
Divide the tahini mixture between two bowls.
Ladle over the hot stock and stir well to dissolve the tahini mixture.
Add in your noodles and top each bowl with bok choy, tofu, crispy fried onions and fresh green onions.
Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of chili oil and serve.
There are lots of ways to simplify this recipe and swap out ingredients.
Instead of making the tofu with all the seasonings, you can simply fry up some mushrooms. Mushrooms are already umami so you don’t need to add the miso-soy sauce mixture.
Another option is to pan fry some sliced smoked tofu. You could use sliced plain tofu too but the smoked tofu is an easy way to add flavour without any effort.
The bok choy can be replaced by other green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage or bean sprouts.
Feel free to add in any other veggies that strike your fancy: corn, carrots, sweet potato, edamame (soybeans), bamboo shoots, nori, wakame, etc.
If you don’t want to fry the scallions, you can skip that step and just use them fresh.
This recipe calls for a very small amount of sake so it can be substituted for Chinese rice wine or dry sherry. If you don’t have either of those, I would just replace it with water since the flavour is subtle anyway.
If you don’t have chili oil you can use sriracha or sambal. I don’t recommend Tabasco sauce.
In most cases, the instant ramen noodles themselves do not contain any animal ingredients. However, they nearly all contain palm oil, which may be a problem for some vegans. Additionally, there are very few instant ramen noodles that do not contain animal products in the seasoning packet.
If you’re up for it, you can make your own homemade ramen noodles from scratch.
There are also some alternative, and considerably more expensive, noodle brands with minimal, healthy ingredients such as King Soba and Lotus Foods.
Substitute gluten-free ramen noodles. The two brands Iinked above, King Soba and Lotus Foods, make gluten-free noodles, among others.
Substitute soy sauce with tamari and choose a gluten-free miso paste by checking the label.
Make ahead and storage tips
You can prepare the tofu, scallions and bok choy ahead of time, as well as mixing up the tahini base. Keep everything in airtight containers in the fridge.
Watch the video:
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) extra-firm tofu
- 2 – 3 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 teaspoons grated garlic
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon dark miso paste
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 2 teaspoons sake
- 1 green onion, white and light green parts sliced into very thin matchsticks for frying and dark green parts thinly sliced for garnish
- 4 – 6 leaves of bok choy, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chili oil, plus more for garnish
- 2 servings of ramen noodles (packaged or fresh)
- Put the vegetable stock in a pot and leave it over low heat to warm up while you prepare the rest of the soup ingredients.
- Mash the tofu with a fork until it’s crumbled. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry, stirring occasionally, until crispy and golden brown.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the miso paste with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and stir well to dissolve.
- Reduce the heat to medium, push the tofu to one side of the pan and add the garlic and ginger. Fry, stirring, until fragrant and cooked through then stir the tofu back in. Add the soy sauce-miso paste mixture and the sake. Allow the liquid to boil off and fry the tofu for a couple minutes more to allow it to crisp up again. Remove to a plate.
- Add 1 – 2 tablespoons more of oil to the pan (depends how big your pan is, you want a layer of oil deep enough to cover the matchstick green onions) and allow to heat up. Add the sliced white parts of the green onions and allow to gently fry for 5 – 10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil.
- In a bowl combine the tahini, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, rice vinegar and chili oil. Mix well.
- Cook the bok choy in the boiling water until the stems are tender. Remove to a plate. Now add the ramen noodles to the pot and cook according to the package directions (for fresh noodles they just need 30 – 60 seconds).
- Divide the tahini mixture between two bowls and ladle over the hot stock while stirring well to combine. Add the noodles and top with the bok choy, tofu, fried green onions and fresh green onions. Serve with additional chili oil for drizzling over top.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 912Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 43gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3943mgCarbohydrates: 73gFiber: 10gSugar: 7gProtein: 30g