Japan is my dream travel destination that I’m planning for next year. I don’t know if it will become a reality, but I’m planting the seeds in my mind, setting a goal, and I am sure it will happen soon. For this sometimes chaotic European who’s always in a hurry, Japan makes it look like slowing down and discipline were invented there. Everything seems to be in its place, allowing life to attain new dimensions in peace of mind and awareness.
Recently, I also started documenting Japan’s food, entering a new world of flavors and simplicity. I’m still new to making their perfectly-balanced dishes, but ramen is already a favorite. Like everything about Japan, I prefer this dish in its simplest version – a healing concoction of nourishing mushrooms and algae, fresh ingredients and filling tofu.
If choosing the ingredients for ramen is totally at your discretion, the key to bring everything together in a harmonious way is by creating a good dashi. Dashi is a stock traditionally made with fish and algae, or, for a vegan version, with algae and mushrooms. Kombu algae is an amazing ingredient to add to your diet, especially if you have a slower thyroid, like me.
Kombu contains important concentrations of iodine, which supports hormone production in the thyroid, and also antioxidant minerals (manganese and zinc), vitamins (C and E), iron and sulphated polysaccharides, with multiple health effects, including anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anticoagulant and antiviral properties.
The intake of algae long-term is especially beneficial if you are estrogen-sensitive, as it balances the hormone production during the follicular phase of the cycle, reducing the risk of breast tumors. Since seaweed acts as a sponge, always purchase organic to reduce the intake of chemicals and toxins.
I made my dashi using a combination of kombu algae and shiitake mushrooms powder, another miracle ingredient, rich in B vitamins, copper and selenium. Selenium has an anti-inflammatory impact on thyroid tissue by activating key enzymes and reducing toxic accumulations of hydrogen peroxide resulting from thyroid hormone synthesis.
Adding only these two ingredients to your dashi will result in a thyroid-healing stock that has that special umami taste. Alongside the curly noodles, you can add any of your favorite ramen ingredients. I kept mine simple by adding mushrooms, soft boiled eggs Kombu Dashi and and caramelised tofu.
- 2 cups purified water
- 2 kombu algae sheets, cut into ribbons to allow the infusion
- 2 tsp shiitake mushrooms powder (or 5-6 dried shiitake, if available)
- ½ pack ramen noodles (choose whole grain or gluten-free if possible)
- 2 champignon mushrooms, cut into slices (or the hydrated shiitake)
- 1 free-range egg, soft-boiled, peeled and halved
- 5 oz firm tofu, dried with a napkin, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 inch ginger knob, peeled and grated
- ½ tsp red chili flakes
- 2 tsp tamari sauce
- Fresh parsley, chopped, hot green pepper slices, to garnish
- Place the kombu ribbons and shiitake powder into a medium bowl with purified water, refrigerate and and infuse overnight.
- Remove the kombu and save it for serving, and heat the liquid in a sauce pan over low heat. Set aside.
- In a cast-iron skillet heat the coconut oil over low heat, add the chili flakes and grated ginger and mix to combine.
- Add the tofu cubes, toss to combine and cook for 10 minutes, tossing frequently.
- Add the tamari sauce and toss to combine.
- Cook for two minutes more, then turn off the heat and set aside.
- While the tofu is cooking, prepare the ramen noodles according to the instructions.
- To assemble the soup, divide the ramen noodles and kombu ribbons into the serving bowls, add caramelized tofu and sliced mushrooms, then evenly pour the kombu dashi.
- Top with egg halves, parsley and pepper slices and serve warm.