Silky noodles and a homemade, aromatic broth – this is my tried and tested recipe for a deliciously light, and comforting, spicy tofu and or chilli chicken ramen.
Ramen, ramen, ramen – the food I often dream about. Although I do not want to come across clichéd, almost any variant of ramen is my go-to food in many Asian eateries. Even when I was in Hong Kong last year, I found myself gravitating towards chicken or prawn wonton and noodle soup for almost every meal – and as always, though it should go without saying, the spicier, the better!
Even at home in the UK, whether I fancy a ridiculously quick snack in the form of an instant packet (Mama Tom Yum is my favourite – YUM!!), or something more hearty and nutritious, my cupboards are always well-stocked to satisfy such cravings.
So what is ramen? Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup. Not to be confused with instant noodles which is a variant of the sort, traditional ramen is a rich broth consisting of Chinese wheat noodles (called la mian which means “pulled noodles” – notice the etymology?), vegetables and meat. Ramen, or then called shina soba, or “chinese buckwheat”) was allegedly introduced to Japan by Chinese immigrants at Yokohama Chinatown in 1859.
As it grew in popularity, naturally, regional variations came about such as the miso (soybean paste) ramen of Hokkaido or shoyu (soy sauce) of Yokohama. The toppings we find on our ramen also vary largely with char siu (BBQ roast pork), kamaboko (fish cakes), boiled eggs, seaweed, and corn all being very popular. However, it does not end there, of course! Each topping can be substituted according to personal preference such as the replacement of meat for tofu, or even the inclusion of plant milk for a richer and creamier broth than what is typically achieved with stock alone.
I love to experiment with my ramen (and I am sure many recipes are to come your way!), but for now, I would like to share with you my recipe for a deliciously heartwarming chilli chicken noodle soup! Admittedly, this is not an authentic spicy ramen recipe but, if you may, it is my humble take on it. Although I love carousing around Asian supermarkets and checking out all of its tasty supplies, I know that this is not realistic nor accessible for many people. And so, I am presenting to you my recipe which largely uses pantry items.
But, if meat is not your thing, no problem! I also made a spicy tofu alternative which was just as good, if not better! I am a sucker for tofu with my favourite type being firm silken. However, this type is not commonly found in many supermarkets as it is used primarily in Asian cooking (such as miso soup and mapo tofu). Ultimately, the taste and texture are not detrimental, however, it may be worth checking out what other types your supermarket stocks – you never know, you may even find a new favourite and become a tofu connoisseur!
Without further adieu, get your chopsticks ready as it is ramen time!
Spicy Tofu / Chilli Chicken Ramen
- 700 ml chicken / vegetable stock.
- 5 tbsp sriracha hot chilli sauce (Adjust the amount according to personal preference).
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 150 g soba / medium egg noodles / ramen noodles (soba tends to be vegan although you may need to check the ingredients before buying. The latter two are further suggestions as they are more readily available to buy in supermarkets).
- 2 chicken breats
- 15 g fresh root ginger
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 400 g firm / extra firm tofu
- 2 - 3 tbsp spicy fermented bean paste (I used Korean gochujang but anything can be used, especially miso paste! Again adjust according to spice preference).
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
Toppings / Garnishes
- What I used - a wedge of lime, coriander, sliced red chillies, finely sliced onions, grated carrot, oyster mushrooms, gai lan (or any other variety of Asian greens such as pok choy).
- Further suggestions - boiled egg, sweetcorn, broccoli, spinach, kimchi, pickled vegetables, seaweed, spring onions, beansprouts, sesame seeds, chilli flakes, etc.
- Preheat the oven at 220°C.
- Marinade the chicken breasts in soy sauce, sugar, grated fresh ginger, and the chilli flakes.
- Cook for 15 minutes on a tray lined with baking parchment.
- Whilst the chicken is in the oven, prepare the vegetables and start making the broth.
- Drain the tofu either by using a tofu press or with paper towels.
- Cut the tofu into cubes and marinate them in either the bean paste or soy sauce mixture.
- Heat the oil over a medium-high heat and then add the tofu. Fry for 3 - 4 minutes until browned on each side.
- Boil the vegetables.
- In a saucepan, dissolve the stock cube in boiling water, and then add the sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic powder. (I used the left over water from boiling my vegetables for extra flavour.)
- Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat.
- Now add the noodles and cook according to the instructions on the pack.
- Divide the noodles and broth between two bowls.
- Top each bowl with sliced chicken / tofu and your selection of vegetables. Finish off with a lime wedge, coriander, spring onions, and chopped chillies.
- Bon appétit (or meshiagare in Japanese!)