Real Veg Ramen Is A Thing; This Chef Tells You How To Make It At Home

Mar 21, 2022, 17:46 IST

t Veg Ramen - Chef Vidushi Sharma

Chef Vidushi Sharma, owner of Mensho Tokyo, Delhi, tells us why an authentic Japanese vegetarian ramen works, and shows you how to make a simple one at home

When one thinks of Japanese cuisine, raw fish, seaweed and good quality meats come to mind. It’s true that Japanese food is heavy on seafood, and that the Japanese truly believe in utilising all parts of an animal; it’s almost a form of respect. Therefore, most ramen broths utilise all the underrated parts of the animal to render a layered, complex and flavourful broth. Pork tonkotsu, which is the most popular ramen broth globally, derives its smokiness and flavour from bones of different parts of the animal. After all this, one tends to wonder if ramen can really be a vegetarian’s delight. The answer is a hearty yes!

Vegan or vegetarian
ramens are here to stay and offer their non-vegetarian counterparts tough competition. The world of vegetarian ramen is exciting! Most vegan broths get their umami from types of mushrooms or even the humble tomato! A bowl of vegan or vegetarian ramen is a complete meal, with a hearty broth full of nutrients from vegetables, and a large variety of noodles, be they whole wheat, buckwheat, glass noodles, reverse cut noodles, wavy noodles… Then comes the tare sauce, which is all the flavour of the ramen; most ramen chefs have their secret recipes and the tare is fermented for anywhere between weeks to years. Tare sauce can also have different bases such as miso, soy and salt. Then there’s a plethora of toppings to choose from, and, fret not, vegetarian toppings are honestly more exciting than the non-vegetarian ones! There’s seared tofu for protein, bok choy, nori, menma, wakame, mushrooms such as oyster, shiitake and cloud ear, and then a liberal sprinkling of fried garlic, fried ginger, smoked nuts, chives, spring onions, micro greens etc. We also marinate and fry certain vegetables to add texture; a ribbon of lotus root or carrot or some eggplant, which works well due to its meaty texture. If you think this is all that goes into a bowl of ramen, you’re missing one of the key elements: a flavoured oil. My favourite – being an Indian – is a nice chilli oil with a punch, but people also make oil with black garlic, spring onions, lemongrass… As I said, the flavour options are quite limitless!

Vegan or vegetarian broths are the base of the
ramen and can vary from clear to soupy or to even thick, like a gravy, depending on the ingredients and clarification. They don’t require endless hours of stewing since veggies break down quicker than meats. For a clear broth, I recommend using aromats, shiitake paste and some veggies such as carrots, onions and bok choy to give flavour along with some kombu soup. Kombu soup is a soup made of kelp or seaweed, and adds not just umami but a lot of nutritional benefits to the ramen. For a broth with a little more body, one can pulverise the vegetables or add milk. Most ramen chefs these days prefer alternative milks over dairy milk for their broth so almond milk, cashew cream or oat milk is common and lends a nutty flavour to the ramen.

with its multitude of ingredients, can overwhelm the best of chefs, but the idea of vegetarian ramen is to start with the basics, keeping the five elements of Broth, Noodles, Tare, Toppings and Flavoured Oil in mind. There is a world of possibilities out there when one gets the elements right; the pairing of flavours, textures, aromas and visual appeal all make up a crackling bowl of ramen that’s so much more than just a noodle soup. Today, ramen creators even play with non-traditional ingredients; they might shave chocolate or cheese over the bowl! Vegetarian ramen is a whole world unto itself and I hope everyone dips their toes and then dives headlong into this flavourful world.


t veg ramen - Miso Dashi Ramen

Vegan Miso Ramen

By Chef Vidushi Sharma 


100 g udon noodles
2 slices silken tofu
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

For the broth:

20 g garlic
10 g ginger
50 g chopped carrot
50 g chopped leek
50 g chopped onion
50 g chopped mushroom

For the
tare sauce:
100 ml soy sauce
5 g red miso paste
15 g honey
30 g toasted sesame oil

To garnish:

10 ml chilli oil
5 g fried garlic
5 g fried ginger
5 g chopped mixed nuts
5 g spring onions
5 g chives
5 g microgreens
5 g edamame
1 piece bok choy, blanched
Sprinkle of gari (pickled ginger)


  1. Prepare the tare sauce ahead of time to allow it to ferment for a richer flavour. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  2. To prepare the broth,  boil all veggies in five litres of water for three hours. Strain and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cook the udon noodles until they are al dente.
  4. Marinate the silken tofu in the tare sauce before searing it in a skillet.
  5. In a serving bowl, combine 15 millilitres of the tare sauce with 250 millilitres of broth, mix well, and add the cooked noodles.
  6. Garnish with the chilli oil, seared tofu, fried garlic, fried ginger, mixed nuts, spring onions, chives, microgreens, edamame, bok choy, and gari.
  7. Serve piping hot!

Images: Mensho Tokyo, Delhi

Also see: Gather Around The Table With Chef Anahita Dhondy