Vegan tsukemen (dipping ramen) is a special breed of ramen. The noodles are served separate from the broth, which is super thick and rich with a lot of umami and a hint of spiciness. You dip the noodles and toppings into the broth as you eat. It’s the best ramen for summertime. The recipe includes meaty shredded king oyster mushrooms.
Introduction to Vegan Tsukemen (Dipping Ramen)
If you’re not familiar with tsukemen style ramen, you’re in for a treat. With tsukemen, you dip the noodles in hot broth and eat them. The broth is much thicker than the average ramen broth. So when you dip the noodles in and pull them out, they take a lot of broth with them. It’s a hot meal, but it won’t overheat you on a hot summer day.
Why this ramen is fantastic
It’s a different experience from your typical bowl of ramen but it’s still a fun one. The broth is traditionally made by boiling a meat-based soup for a long time to get it really thick. Instead, I use cashew butter (or ground cashews) to create a thick and clingy broth that’s nutty but mild enough to handle a lot of seasoning.
The flavor of the broth is pretty different from all the others. It’s nutty, creamy, spicy, and aromatic. It’s an addictive flavor combination that is complex but not overpowering. Miso and doubanjiang bring a deep umami and a kick of salty spiciness.
How to make Vegan Tsukemen (Dipping Ramen)
The cashew base
You can make the broth using either whole cashews or premade cashew butter. If you’re using whole cashews, you’ll need to soak them in water overnight.
Cook and cool the noodles
When you’re ready to cook, start by boiling the ramen noodles. They take just a couple of minutes, so be careful not to overcook them. Try one and make sure it’s chewy, bouncy, and delightful. When they’re done, give them a rinse and put them in the fridge (or by the AC vent) to cool.
Making the broth
To make the broth, saute garlic and ginger in a saucepan. Add miso and doubanjiang and toast them a bit to intensify their flavors. Add the cashews (or cashew butter). Stir again for a few minutes to toast the nuts or nut butter. We’ll deglaze the pot with a bit of sake to capture all the toasted concentrated flavors, then mix in some cold vegetable broth.
The now-lukewarm mixture goes into the blender, where it’s turned into a thick, smooth broth. We’ll transfer it back to the saucepan over low heat with a shiitake mushroom and piece of kombu seaweed. This will infuse great umami to the broth as it thickens.
Toppings and assembly
While the broth simmers, we shred and roast the king oyster mushroom “chicken”. This should take about 15 minutes.
When the “chicken” is ready – crispy, chewy, and meaty – and the broth is nice and thick, we assemble the ramen bowls. Put the cool noodles with the “chicken” and other toppings in a big bowl. The hot broth goes in a smaller bowl. Top the broth with green onion, a touch of sesame oil, and a squeeze of lime.
Get ready to dip and slurp!
The Shredded King Oyster Mushroom “Chicken”
I tested out a new technique for making king oyster mushrooms as a topping for the ramen. I used a fork to carve deep slits into each side of the stem of the mushroom. This made it easy to pull the mushroom apart by hand into thin strips. The texture is really interesting this way, maybe similar to shredded chicken breast.
Just roast the shredded mushrooms in the oven with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper. They come out both crispy and meaty. Perfect when dipped in the broth.
- Shredding king oyster mushrooms into pulled “chicken”
A Note on Noodles
If you don’t have the option of fresh or frozen, dried ramen is the next best kind.
Topping Ideas for Vegan Tsukemen (Dipping Ramen)
The recipe includes the shredded roasted king oyster “chicken”, Japanese fermented bamboo shoots (menma), baked tofu, and roasted nori seaweed. I chose these toppings to try to stay true to the flavors and textures I’ve experienced eating tsukemen ramen.
You can use a lot of other toppings too, including the following:
- Other roasted mushrooms, such as oyster or portobello
- Blanched veggies such as spinach, carrots, or zucchini
- Roasted cauliflower or Brussels sprouts
- The king oyster mushroom “scallops” from my miso ramen recipe
Plant-Based Japanese Dishes to Serve with the Vegan Tsukemen
- Spicy Edamame – the nutty peas are coated in a spicy, smoky, sweet, and buttery sauce.
- Cucumber Salad – a simple appetizer with big flavors; made with homemade chili oil, the crunchy cucumbers are spicy, sour, sweet, nutty, and smoky.
- Hijiki Salad – hijiki seaweed has a mild flavor and pleasant texture that go nicely with the carrot, sesame, tofu, and avocado.
More Plant-Based Ramen Recipes
- The Easy One – soy milk broth with blistered tomatoes and zucchini and raw avocado (also includes spicy version)
- Miso Ramen with king oyster mushroom “scallops” in a hearty savory broth with a kick of spice
- Tonkotsu ramen featuring a silky rich cashew cream broth boosted by aromatics. The creamiest ever.
- Shio Ramen – has a light and clear but very flavorful broth boosted by truffle salt; includes slabs of seared king oyster mushroom
As always, if you try this recipe out, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @gastroplant on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.
Vegan Tsukemen (Dipping Ramen)
- High Speed Blender
- 2 servings ramen noodles preferably fresh or frozen
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight then drained OR
- 1/2 cup cashew butter unsweetened and unsalted
For the broth:
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil or neutral cooking oil
- 8 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1.5 Tablespoons ginger minced or grated
- 2 Tablespoons miso preferably white or yellow
- 1 teaspoon doubanjiang can add more for higher spice level, see note
- 1/4 cup sake or water
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 dried shiitake mushroom
- 1 piece kombu 2x4 inches (5x10 centimeters)
- 1 large king oyster mushroom 1/3 to 1/2 pound or 150 to 230 grams
- Oil spray
- Salt and pepper
- Baked tofu
- 8 small strips of roasted nori seaweed
- Toasted sesame oil
- 1 green onion chopped finely
- Shichimi togarashi optional
- Lime wedges optional
- If you’re making the king oyster mushroom shredded “chicken”, preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
Cook the noodles
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles until just done. For fresh noodles this should take 2-3 minutes of boiling. Drain the noodles when done and give them a rinse under the tap with cold water. Set them aside to cool. You can cover and refrigerate them if you prefer them chilled.
Prepare the king oyster mushroom
- While waiting for the water for the noodles to boil, you can prepare the mushroom. Use a fork to carve deep slits in 4 sides of the mushroom stem. Use your hands to pull apart the strands and shred the mushroom. Place the mushroom strands on a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Spray briefly with oil and season with salt and pepper, stirring as you do both.
Make the broth
- Heat the peanut (or neutral cooking) oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger and garlic. Stir until the herbs are nearly cooked through, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the miso and doubanjiang. Mix it with the ginger and garlic to form an even paste. Stir until the paste is slightly browned, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the cashews or cashew butter. If using cashews, stir and cook until the cashews are blended with the paste and slightly toasted, 4-5 minutes. If using cashew butter, stir until the butter is integrated with the other paste and slightly toasted, 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the sake (or water) and stir well to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the saucepan.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the vegetable broth.
- Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a high-speed blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute on high. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan, Add the dried shiitake mushroom and kombu. Cover and heat over low heat.
Cook the king oyster mushroom
- By now, the oven should be preheated. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake until the mushrooms are cooked through and crispy around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Stir the mushrooms at least once during baking.
Make final adjustments and prepare to serve
- While the mushrooms are baking, you can prepare the other toppings.
- You should also adjust the consistency of the broth as needed. It should be quite thick, much thicker than a typical soup. Uncover the saucepan and turn up the heat slightly to help the broth thicken more quickly. Stir in more vegetable broth (or water) to thin the broth out.
- If you want the broth to be very hot at the time of serving, you can heat the small broth bowls by filling them with boiling water. You should discard the hot water before filling the bowls and be VERY careful handling the hot bowls.
Assemble and serve
- Distribute the noodles evenly between two large bowls. Add the menma, shredded king oyster “chicken”, baked tofu, nori sheets, and/or whatever other toppings you plan to use.
- Distribute the broth among the small bowls, taking care to remove and discard the shiitake mushroom and kombu. Garnish each bowl of broth with some sesame oil, green onion, lime juice, and shichimi togarashi (if using).
- Serve immediately.