When you cook a recipe with lots of ingredients, you expect a big impact. So it would follow that cooking a recipe with just a few ingredients would be less impactful; that it would be simple in the way mashed potatoes are simple: straightforward, satisfying, but not complex. And then someone sends you a recipe for noodles with mushrooms, chiles, and lime and you think to yourself, “okay that seems pretty basic,” but then you make it and you marvel at the way every ingredient sings. Not just flavor-wise, but texture-wise. From the crunchy, salty, roasted peanuts you add at the end, to the refreshing whole cup of cilantro that gets stirred in too. Suddenly simple isn’t basic, simple is where it’s at.
A Vegan Made Me Do It
My guest on this week’s podcast is Vegan Chef Chris Tucker who cooks vegan food for private clients and celebrities (he’s doing vegan desserts for the Elton John Oscar Party this year!). Our conversation runs the gambit from how to become a vegan (and why) to how to stock a vegan pantry. But everything launched with this recipe that he sent me which comes from my old food blogging friend Heidi Swanson’s newest cookbook Super Natural Simple.
The ingredients are all things you can find easily. The mushrooms can be anything from everyday creminis to more exotic things like oyster mushrooms or Hen of the Woods (I chose shiitake). As for the chiles, I used pickled Fresnos, but any chile will work.
Bring on the Mushrooms, the Noodles, the Chiles, the Lime
Is there anything more fun to cook than mushrooms? I doubt it.
What other ingredient starts out so bulbous, so chest-out confident, so bright and then — just with some heat and a little fat (a tablespoon of olive oil here) — transforms into a concentrated, flavor-packed, golden brown nugget of meaty goodness?
Once that happens, you’re set. Just whisk together some soy sauce, lime juice, the chiles, scallions, and lime, and add the mushrooms in to marinate.
For the noodles, I used Umi Organic ramen which I loved for their rough texture and their wholesome mix of flours (though I missed the instruction about defrosting them first before boiling, so be sure to do that).
It All Comes Together
Once the noodles are cooked (which takes just two minutes), you toss them with all of the other stuff, adding more lime juice and soy sauce as necessary.
Finally, you add the toasted peanuts and the cilantro, toss those in and you’re done. Serve it up into bowls.
It’s a wholesome, nourishing, vegan dinner that doesn’t feel like a wholesome, nourishing, vegan dinner. And it takes just a few ingredients to make it happen. Sometimes more is more, but not here. Here less wins the day.
Ramen Noodles with Mushrooms, Chiles, and Lime
- 8 green onion, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lime, plus more to serve
- 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced I used my own pickled red Fresnos here but you can use whichever chile you like
- 1 tablespoon Tamari or soy sauce, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Generous pinch of sea salt
- 1 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, mint)
- 1/3 cup toasted peanuts or other nuts
- 4 ounces frozen ramen noodles (preferably Umi brand), defrosted Note: you can also serve these mushrooms with rice or just eat them by themselves too.
- Combine the green onions, lime juice, chile, and tamari in a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and season with the salt. Cook for 4 minutes, stir, and cook for a few minutes more, until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to brown. When the mushrooms are deeply golden, remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the mushrooms to the onion mixture and gently toss. Stir in the herbs and peanuts, conserving some for garnishing the noodles.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add your defrosted ramen noodles and cook for two minutes (tasting to make sure the texture is right). Lift into the pan with the mushrooms and toss all around. Taste and adjust for more soy sauce and lime. Garnish with the remaining herbs and peanuts and serve in bowls.
Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce