In this recipe you have a choice of either making soy sauce-based or creamy tonkotsu-like soya milk-based broth. The only difference is if you add soya milk to the base recipe. Remember that the amount of soya sauce will depend on which one you make so please read the recipe thoroughly.
Why planet-friendly you may ask? There are several things that need to be considered to make a certain dish really climate-smart: ingredients, food diversification, packaging and plastic involved as well as the method of cooking.
The main ingredients of this vegan ramen broth are seaweed and soya. Seaweed, especially kelp, absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and ocean than any other plants on land. Kelp is very good at sequestering carbon as it is fast-growing and travels far away from the shore (avoiding re-release of the carbon by decomposition on land) and sink deep down in the ocean. Apparently, covering 9% of the ocean surface with kelp forest would remove 53 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from both the ocean and atmosphere. Given nearly 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide was globally released in 2019, there is every reason why we should be supporting sustainable kelp farming. I say ‘sustainable’ because kelp forests are an ecologically very important home for other ocean animals so it is vital that we choose the right kelp product where it has been farmed sustainably.
If you have watched the BBC documentary Extinction: The Facts by Sir David Attenborough, you will have seen that Brazil is one of the largest producers of soy beans. Soy cultivation is a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon basin. But this is because 96% of the soya produced globally are used for animal feed and only a fraction of soy used to make tofu and soy milk is linked to deforestation. Amazon rainforest previously absorbed about a quarter of the planet’s carbon dioxide. However, due to large-scale deforestation, the Amazon is now absorbing 30% less carbon dioxide than before. Humans have removed too many trees and this needs to stop. If we all focus on a more plant-based diet, there won’t be a need for future clearing of the forest to farm such huge amounts of soya to feed cattle for us to eat.
As I mentioned in previous posts on spelt recipe (here and here), diversifying our calorie intake towards food other than wheat (and rice and maize) is very important. Maize, rice and wheat make up nearly 60% of calories from plants in the entire human diet. Dietary monotony is linked to decline in biodiversity as well as reduction in food system resilience and limiting the variety of food we eat.
Spelt flour is one of my favourites as it’s nutritious, easy to digest, but can also be grown in a condition that would otherwise be unsuitable for wheat, without the use of pesticides. And I love the taste of spelt ramen noodle – it’s not much different from the ordinary ramen noodle but slightly more nutty.
The only energy used for making this entire dish from stock to broth is the boiling of the broth. There were no other long hours of cooking involved, so pretty energy efficient.
Last but not least: packaging. It is so frustrating when you try to make food that is better for both you and the environment only for the ingredients to come in unnecessary plastic packaging. Luckily, the tetrapak for soya milk can be recycled. Similarly, kelp from Cornish Seaweed Company comes in fantastic recyclable packaging. Seaweed nori is the only ingredient that is packaged in plastic that needs to be recycled at my local supermarket.
So I think you’ll agree that this vegan ramen noodle recipe is fantastically planet-friendly – and, just as important, yummy!
Ingredients (for 1 serving)
2tbsp olive oil
200ml kombu dashi stock (see my post on how to easily make kombu dashi using cold method)
200ml unsweetened soya milk
10g garlic (5g for stock, 5g for topping)
3tbsp soya sauce (for creamy vegan tonkotsu) or 2tbsp for soy stock
1tsp miso paste (only for vegan tonkotsu)
You can use any many kinds of toppings. I would recommend using:
Half of the grated garlic from above
Irish moss (mine comes from Cornish Seaweed Co)
Chopped spring onions
A couple of sheets of nori seaweed
Other toppings ideas: Fried kale or cavolo nero, sliced tofu, shitake mushrooms, snow fungus. Go crazy with your toppings!
Prepare all the toppings.
In a pot, heat up the olive oil.
Add half (5g) of the grated garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic as it will taste bitter. Just warm the garlic.
Add kombu stock, soya sauce, miso and soy milk. Omit soy milk if you want to make just soya ramen broth.
Meanwhile, prepare spelt ramen noodle. Make sure the noodle is not dripping wet with water as this will dilute the soup. I usually boil the noodle and strain it, then place it on a clean tea towel to make sure all the excess water is removed.
Heat up until just before it boils. If it boils up, the soya milk will curdle.
Ladle the soup over the noodle using the sieve.
Add the toppings.
Slurp away….and enjoy!