On days when I work from home, I usually have back to back calls and meetings. Like most people, I usually just reheat leftovers for lunch if squeezing in lunch is even possible. But then suddenly, you have one of those days in which you see a 30-minute window around lunchtime, what will you do?
I can imagine any sane people opt to go for a walk in the park to get some fresh air and soak up some vitamin D. Not this lady over here – sees a 30-minute window as a perfect opportunity to stretch my culinary muscles and imagination.
I frequent the Midtown Farmers Market in Sacramento on Saturdays religiously. All the vendors are fantastic, but I absolutely adore the mushroom vendor. Since I’m only cooking for 2, and my partner isn’t fanatical about mushrooms the way I am, I have to control myself and not wipe their inventory clean every time I visit them. For the purpose of what I plan to cook during the week, I bought shiitake and king oyster mushroom; both of them are incredibly flavorful and “meaty.”
When COVID-19 was hitting the U.S. at its hardest (depending on when you’re reading this article, we might be in a very different stage. More importantly, I hope this will be part of our history by the time you read it), I halted my mushroom purchase for about 3 weeks.
I was worried that because mushroom is one of those “produce” you are not supposed to prewash before cooking, I mentally didn’t feel safe to consume it without any education or research. Yes, it’s very ignorant on my part. But I hope by being honest about my own belief will help someone out there overcome theirs.
I didn’t know the American Mushroom Association exists that provides growers and consumers safe practices both in handling the selling and purchasing of mushrooms, but it also provides you some cool recipes as well.
Ultimately, what got me over the silly fear was – given the length of time the mushroom is cooked, it will kill most of the viruses if it even gets there from harvesting. To me, equally important is to understand and trust the source of your food. So, if you have your mushroom vendor you frequent, this is a perfect time to have a conversation with them if you have no already done so.
- Ramen noodle/angel hair pasta noodle
- If you are using angel hair noodle like I am, set aside 1 tsp of baking soda (for half a quart of water)
- A handful of wild mushrooms
- 2 cups of chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
- 1-2 scallions
- Red miso (if using)
- Chicken fat (optional)
- Fermented garlic vinegar/brine (optional)
Steps (Since I’m trying to finish cooking in under 30 minutes…more like under 20 minute at this point, what I’m showing below is an orchestration of steps, aiming for efficiency):
- Boil water for your angel hair pasta. While your water is boiling…
- Slice up the scallions, use the white part for cooking and the green part to sprinkle on top at the end
- Tear up the wild mushrooms (amount of mushroom to use varies depending on how much you love mushrooms. Just be cognizant that the mushrooms will get cooked down rather significantly. So, start with 2 cups of torn up wild mushrooms.
- In your soup pot, add about 1 tsp of chicken fat and a tsp of cooking oil and heat it on medium-low heat. If you are not using chicken fat (schmaltz), just add 2 tsp of cooking oil in the pot.
- Once the soup pot is hot enough, add the white part of the scallion and torn mushrooms in. Leave it alone. Turn the heat up to medium-high until the temperature gets back up. When it begins to sizzle quite a bit, turn it down to medium-low.
- Let it cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until you see some liquid coming out of the mushroom. Then stir it a little to make sure all the mushrooms can get the “sear love” and pick up some color/render its liquid.
- While your mushroom is cooking, your pasta water should be boiling (I mean…you’re cooking for your own lunch, right? So, I assume you are not using a gigantic stock pot, right?). If your water is boiling, add the 1 tsp of baking soda. It will fizz up just as quickly as it dies down. So, no sweat. Then add in your angel hair pasta. Follow the cooking time in the box, minus 1 minute or so. The pasta will continue to cook after you strain the liquid and as you get ready to assemble the dish
- Go back and check on your mushrooms. When you stir the mushrooms, you should see that the mushrooms should have taken on some colors and some delicious liquid at the bottom. Season the mushroom with salt and cracked pepper; stir it and let it cook for another 10-20 more seconds. (Feel free to taste one of the mushroom pieces and check if it’s seasoned to your liking).
- Add in your 2 cups of broth. Turn the heat back on high until the soup begins to bubble, then turn it down to medium-low again.
- By now, your pasta should be done. Strain the water, rinse off the baking soda pasta water from the noodle too. To prevent residual water from dogging up your noodle, leave it in a fine-mesh strainer and let it strain out some more water over your ramen bowl.
- Go back to your mushroom broth. It should be ready. But taste it first. Is it salty enough? If you like, this is the time when you can add your red miso. If you don’t have red miso, just season it to your liking. If you feel like it’s missing some umami flavor, add a dash of soy sauce. [Consider putting it in a box on the side] Now, if you are using red miso – in a separate bowl, add about a tsp of miso, mix either chicken fat, neutral fat, or sesame seed oil to it. Break down the miso, and then add some warm water/hot broth to further break down the miso. Once the miso mixture is broken up, add it to your soup.
- Now, your bowl of mushroom ramen is ready to assemble. You can now transfer the lonely noodle that’s been waiting for you in the strainer to your ramen bowl. (If there’s any residual water from the ramen, be sure to dump it out.) Pour in your mushroom soup.
- (Optional step) If you are feeling fancy, add a tsp of garlic vinegar if you’re into fermentation and you have one sitting around. If you’re hoping to get into fermentation but haven’t done this yet, I’ll have a recipe for you coming up soon. If that sounds too strange for you, skip it.
- (Optional step) Add a dollop of chicken fat (if using) or drizzle on top toasted sesame seed oil (if that suddenly sounds great)
The entire process should only take about 20 minutes. It takes you much longer to make one? That’s fine with me. Who cares? You should be enjoying your bowl of ramen noodle anyway.
Besides wild mushroom ramen, I love love love kimchi ramen (from a bag, not from a bag…when it comes to kimchi ramen, I appreciate both.). How about you? What are you go-to ramen noodle recipes?