Sesame Tofu Ramen Noodles with mushrooms in creamy tahini sauce. This better-than-takeout ramen recipe comes together in 30 minutes and is completely plant-based.
Why You'll Love this Sesame Tofu Ramen:
My love for this ramen dish may be unparalleled at this point. It's actually pretty amazing how you can transform a $1 pack of ramen noodles to something truly transcendent. And since most of us are trying to lean into pantry items right now, why not experiment with this multifaceted noodle?
This dish truly has it all: meaty texture, savory depth, and just enough spice to ignite the taste buds. It's also extremely versatile--use any combination of veggies or protein you have on hand. The magic really lies in the sauce, which I'll go more into later.
For now, just know you absolutely need to add this homemade ramen recipe to your weeknight lineup.
Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions:
In short, just about vegetable you have on hand can be added to ramen. For example, matchstick carrots, broccoli, green beans, and any type of mushrooms. In this vegan version, here's the ingredient lineup (plus suitable substitutions) I suggest:
- Crispy tofu: Go for extra firm (or super firm) tofu, which will yield the meatiest texture. Alternatively, you can use edamame, shrimp, or chicken.
- Shiitake mushrooms: Perhaps the most umami-rich mushrooms in the game, shiitakes add savory depth and meaty texture. Though really, any mushroom will work here: oyster, cremini, or button mushrooms, for example.
- Aromatics: Shallots, green onion, garlic, ginger, oh my! Use anything you have on hand to build the aromatic backbone of ramen.
- Tahini: Perhaps the wildcard ingredient here, tahini adds rich, nutty flavor and creaminess to the sauce. In terms of brands, Soom is my go-to for its smooth texture and beautifully bitter nuances. To try any Soom products for 10% off, simply enter code ‘dishingouthealth’ at checkout!
- Chili garlic sauce: This chameleon condiment does some heavy lifting in the sauce with its dimensional heat. Feel free to add more or less based on your desired level of spice. My favorite brand is by Hung Fong, which you can order off Amazon or purchase at most large supermarkets.
- Rice vinegar: Many classic ramen recipes call for mirin, which is a sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking. In this recipe, however, feel free to use rice vinegar instead.
- Soy sauce: A must for its salty, umami-rich edge, though feel free to use tamari or coconut aminos instead.
- Garnishes: The toppings are also limitless here, though think of terms of what will best complement the creamy sauce. I go for things that are cooling, crunchy, and/or toasty for texture and flavor contrast. For example, scallions, sesame seeds, basil or cilantro.
This vegan ramen recipes comes together in right under 30 minutes. All you need is a large skillet, and a pot big enough to boil the noodles. Here's how to make it:
Make Crispy Tofu
Firmly press one block of tofu to remove as much moisture as possible. Next, slice it into cubes and add it to a well-oiled skillet over medium heat. (I find non-stick skillets work best for cooking tofu since it has a tendency to latch onto pans.) Cook the tofu for 6 to 7 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden and crisp. Season with salt, and transfer it to a plate.
Cook the Mushrooms and Onions
Next, add the shiitake mushrooms, shallots, and green onion to the same skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until all of the vegetables are soft.
Prepare the Sauce
In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, combine the vegetable broth, soy sauce, tahini, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce; whisk well. Pour the sauce into the pan with the vegetables and cook 2 minutes, until it starts to reduce. Next, add the tofu back to the skillet and toss to combine.
Cook the Noodles
Boil the ramen noodles in a large pot of salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain, and transfer the noodles to the skillet with sauce and vegetables. Use a pair of tongs to toss everything together until well-combined.
What Noodles are Used in Ramen?
Wheat ramen noodles are light and springy, and the popular choice for ramen bowls. In terms of brands, I love Koyo packs of ramen noodles, which I either purchase from Amazon or Sprouts Market. (I just discard the seasoning packets they come with, though they’re also quite good!)
Alternatively, you can purchase fresh ramen noodles from your local Asian market or specialty foods store.
Is Ramen Good for You?
Most of the bad rap associated with ramen lies in the seasoning packets, which are very high in sodium. The noodles themselves, however, actually offer a decent amount of iron and B vitamins. If you need a gluten free version, look for noodles made from brown rice. (These will often be labeled as soba noodles.)
Lotus Foods also makes gluten free ramen noodles, which are made from brown rice and millet. If you give this sesame tofu ramen a try, be sure to snap a picture and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Also check out my famous Spicy Ramen Noodles recipe, which is a reader (and personal) favorite!
Sesame Tofu Ramen
- Large skillet
- Soup pot
- 1 ¼ cup vegetable broth (sub chicken, beef, or bone broth)
- ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce (sub tamari)
- 3 Tbsp. tahini, well-stirred (such as Soom brand)
- 1 ½ Tbsp. mirin (sub rice vinegar)
- 1 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce
- 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided (olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, etc.)
- 1 (14-oz.) block extra-firm tofu, pressed and sliced into cubes
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, tough stems removed (sub cremini or button mushrooms)
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 4 (3-oz.) packs dry ramen noodles (seasoning packs discarded)
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- In a large measuring glass or bowl, combine vegetable broth, soy sauce, tahini, vinegar, and chili garlic sauce; stir with a whisk. Set aside. Start heating a pot of salted water over medium-high in preparation of cooking the noodles.
- Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add tofu and cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden. Season with ¼ tsp. salt, and transfer to a plate.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to pan, along with mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes, until mushrooms start to soften. Add two-thirds of chopped green onion (reserve remaining for garnish) and shallots; season with remaining ¼ tsp. salt, and cook 3 more minutes. Add sauce to pan and cook 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Cover pan and turn off heat.
- Once the water in your soup pot comes to a low boil, add ramen and cook according to package instructions (most need 3 to 4 minutes). Drain, and transfer noodles to pan with vegetables and sauce. Add tofu back to pan and use a set of tongs to continuously toss until sauce thoroughly coats noodles. Garnish with remaining green onion and sesame seeds.