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You want to talk about simple ingredients with big flavor? A super fast, healthy dinner? A cheap alternative to eating out?
Seafood Ramen, y’all.
You know it’s the end of the grocery budget when I start serving up ramen for dinner. The other night it was a veggie stir fry with sausage, leftover shredded chicken, and ramen noodles. Tonight it is traditional ramen soup. Although maybe we should call it Redhead Ramen because it is probably as far from traditional as you can get.
I pull out my big red cast iron pot for this dish. It has a wide bottom, nice for cooking my vegetables, and high sides so I don’t have to worry about boiling over.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a big red pot, or even all of the ingredients for that matter. This recipe is extremely forgiving. In fact, I’m taking pictures at the end of the budget week just to show you how forgiving it can be.
We happen to be in the middle of nowhere at the moment. One of those small towns with a tiny grocery store that has everything priced about twice as much as we would normally find. The produce department is also non-existent. No baby bokchoy for us. I left with an onion, a tiny zucchini, some mushrooms, and a bag of shredded carrots. It’ll do.
First, chop your vegetables and assemble your ingredients. You’ll be adding them rather rapid fire so you’ll want them ready.
Turn on the heat and drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of your pan. I might have run out of olive oil before enough had drizzled out, but not to worry, a bit of butter more than makes up for the lost oil.
Onions go in the pot first. Give them a stir until the teenage boy wanders into the kitchen with a “That smells good. Whatcha cookin’?”
Mushrooms are next. The type doesn’t really matter. I usually have baby portobellos on hand but I actually think these were porcini just because they were the only mushrooms in the store. I stir these around with the onions until they start to brown a bit on the edges.
Carrots are next. Ideally you want your veggie portions to be roughly the same. I meant to add half the bag of shredded carrots but things escalated and before I knew it, the whole bag was in the pot. Totally not sweating it.
Once the carrots soften up a bit it’s time for the zucchini to jump in the pool. Jump being the operative word since the dog chose that exact moment to get the zoomies and run under my feet like a maniac. Really most of them made it into the pot. Give the zucchini a good stir or two. That’s about all it takes.
You guys know I LOVE my squeezee spices. Get yourself some chunky garlic and ginger for this dish. Go with what you feel with these. Generally I give a squeeze or two of ginger and double that of garlic. You really can’t go wrong with garlic.
Doesn’t that look tasty? Thirty seconds is all it takes for it to start getting fragrant. Just enough time to shoo the now two teenagers away from the stove.
This is where it starts getting really fun. It’s time to make soup! You’re going to add stock, about four or five cups. You can use chicken stock, fish stock, beef stock, vegetable stock…whatever your heart desires.
I used water. What? I told you it was the end of the grocery budget. No matter. It is still going to be delicious.
This is where a well stocked pantry comes in handy. And you’re just going to have to trust me on this next bit. Do Not go with what you feel if this is your first time. Do Not sniff your ingredients to see if you have enough. Just trust me or none of it will end up in the pot and THIS is the secret.
You’re going to add two generous tablespoons of oyster sauce and one generous tablespoon of fish sauce. DO NOT SMELL THEM! TRUST THE PROCESS.
Soy sauce and rice vinegar are next. Generally I add half a cup of soy sauce and a quarter cup of rice vinegar. Unless I’m shooing away both teenagers and the little girls. Then the measurements get a wee bit wonky, but these ingredients are okay with a little wonkiness.
Mirin. This ingredient is in no way mandatory, and I almost forgot completely about it, but its inclusion will take your ramen to the next level. It doesn’t take much. In fact I don’t even measure it. I just pour in a glug (maybe a tablespoon-ish) and let it get happy. This is where you give everything a sniff. It should smell heavenly.
Grab these guys and toss the flavoring packets in the trash. Break the big clump of noodles up into about four pieces.
Turn up the heat and once it starts bubbling, toss them in.
Okay, while they are cooking for three minutes I need to come clean about this step. Most recipes tell you to cook the noodles separate and pour the soup over them when you’re ready. I understand the theory about this. Noodles that sit and sit and sit in soup get mushy. I completely disregard this sage advice, however, for two reasons. One, with four kids, I don’t really ever have leftovers. And two, I’m just morally offended by the thought of washing two pans when I can wash one. So you can handle this any way you want. If you want to boil the noodles separately, go with God.
Times up! Doesn’t that look happy? But wait. I said Seafood Ramen. If I had shrimp I would toss it in to boil with the noodles.
I have this guy. Easy enough to open and toss some crumbles in a bowl. I top with green onions at the same time. Ready?
Grab some noodles and veggies with your tongs.
Pour some broth over top.
Sprinkle on some fake crab and green onions and enjoy!