Soy milk ramen isn’t necessarily a vegetarian option in Japan; most of the time the dashi will still contain katsuobushi (bonito, or dried skipjack tuna) flakes and the broth itself is typically made with pork bones. The same goes for miso ramen—not usually a vegetarian-friendly option in Japan. This vegan version of traditional miso ramen is so creamy, rich, and full of umami that you won’t even be able to tell it’s completely plant-based.
If there’s a tofu company where you live, they probably sell soy milk as well. This ramen will still taste good with boxed soy milk, but it has to be unsweetened and unflavored—vanilla-flavored ramen will not taste good! If you want to try making your own (a super budget-friendly option!), there are a range of soy milk makers that can make the whole process easier.
You can use any type of ramen noodles you like for this recipe. Fresh noodles are great and cook super-fast, but the thin, straight dry noodles (chuka soba or chuka men) are also totally good. In a pinch, you can even use instant ramen noodles (save the seasoning packs for another use, like popcorn or onion dip).
This ramen makes a wonderful meal with tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and a cucumber-wakame seaweed salad, and if you’re not vegan you can add a soft-boiled egg as a topping. Fun fact: To make this ramen in the regional style of Aomori, Japan, just add curry powder.
For the Dashi:
3 cups water
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, smashed
1 scallion, halved, more for garnish
1 (3 x 4-inch) piece dried kombu seaweed (kelp)
For the Soup Broth:
3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
3 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups unsweetened plain soy milk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon MSG, optional
For the Ramen:
4 servings ramen noodles (fresh or dry)
4 tablespoons vegan butter
2 tbsp (1/8 cup) nori sheets
Steps to Make It
Make the Dashi
Gather the ingredients.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the shiitakes, ginger, scallion, and kombu. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the kombu (otherwise the dashi will get kind of slimy) and continue simmering until the dashi becomes slightly golden (like tea), about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Remove and discard (or eat) the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Set the dashi aside.
Make the Soup Broth
Gather the soup broth ingredients.
While the dashi is simmering, lightly crush the sesame seeds with a suribachi, mortar and pestle, or spice grinder (be careful not to turn them to paste—we just want to release the fragrance and oils). Set aside.
Heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the miso and stir until well combined. Add the sake and mirin and stir to combine.
Stir in the reserved crushed sesame seeds and the soy sauce.
Add the reserved dashi, and continue to stir until the miso is fully dissolved.
Slowly add the soy milk. Season with salt, pepper, and MSG, if using. Reduce the heat to low. You don’t want the broth to come to a boil, because it can make the soy milk “break” (it’ll get kind of clumpy and weird). You just want the broth to be warmed up to soup temperature.
soy milk added to pot with other ingredients for miso butter ramen
Gather the ramen noodles, vegan butter, and optional toppings.
While the soup broth is heating up, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package.
Divide the cooked noodles between 4 bowls, ladle in the soup, and then top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of vegan butter. Add your desired toppings, and enjoy.