Ramen noodles are a blank canvas just begging to be embellished. With this dish, I taken a ton of inspiration from one of my favorite chefs, and used his incredible ginger scallion sauce to perk up a package of boring noodles. I threw on some spicy chili oil, and then cooled it all down with some creamy silken tofu and fresh cilantro. It’s amazing how a few humble ingredients can turn the ubiquitous into the profound.
If you’ve been around Monson Made This for a while, you know that I’m no stranger to a package of ramen noodles. I could (and did during college) live off of them. This dish was heavily inspired by my watching of Danny Bowien teaching Alexander Wang how to make Mission Chinese’s Green Tea noodles on Instagram Live. The star of this dish is a super easy ginger scallion sauce that takes advantage of the umami-bomb ramen seasoning packet. In no time at all you’ll have an incredibly complex sauce that can be tossed with any type of noodles, or served over pretty much anything that will sit still long enough.
For me, the silver lining of this whole quarantine business has been watching the Instagram live streams from some of my favorite personalities, and watching them “collab” with other inspiring people. There have been quite a few that frankly, I feel honored to have seen. One such “collab” was watching Clair Saffitz eat cream puff swans while Jonathan Van Ness devoured a fruit pavlova. It was like watching two stars collide, and watching them “fan girl” over each othe was something I will never forget.
The second one that comes to mind, though, has been truly inspired me, and has sent me down a rabbit hole of deliciousness.
At this point, I’ve probably watched the “Danny and Alexander” stream at least three times now (as far as I know, you can still watch it on @alexanderwangny Instagram). I can’t really nail down what it was about the video that has hit me so hard, but after watching it for the second time, I purchased Mission Chinese cookbook on Kindle, and started looking for other videos of Danny cooking online.
Full disclosure, I have been intrigued by Danny and Mission Chinese for quite some time now, and this recent exposure has just reignited my fascination.
In the video that accompanies this post, I discuss the three restaurants that changed the way that I see food, and the way that I aspire to cook. Donna Jean in San Diego, Shizen Vegan Sushi in San Francisco, and of course, Mission Chinese Food (also in San Francisco).
The thing that struck me so hard about Mission Chinese was the intensity of flavors. I had had mapo tofu in the past, but my taste buds went insane when they touched the mapo at Mission. The dish fired on all cylinders, and made no apologies for slapping me in the mouth with heat and spice, and then leaving my lips and tongue tingly-numb from the sichuan peppercorn.
As soon as I got back to Las Vegas from San Francisco, I Googled a recipe for his vegan mapo tofu. Surprisingly, the entire recipe was just hanging out on the New York Times Cooking site. (link HERE).
I keep a very stocked pantry and spice drawer, but it took me a bit to track down everything I needed to make this dish. When I had everything on hand from fermented black beans to cheap beer, I made his mapo tofu.
Of course, since it was my first time ever using sichuan peppercorns and many other pungent ingredients, mine wasn’t as nuanced at the version that I had tasted at the restaurant. But, I was hooked, and I knew that I wanted to learn everything there was to know about cooking food like Danny’s.
The Mission Chinese Cookbook is part interview and part personal narrative. The book tells the story of how Danny became the chef he is today; turning a weekly popup at a quiet take-out restaurant into a collection of award winning destination restaurants.
From this immersion has come this dish, and probably many more to come. I am inspired by the flavors and the techniques and the desire to take a food that you love and respect, and turn it into something personal. From Danny I have learned that it’s not about replicating the foods that you love, but instead it’s about honoring the tradition of those foods by interpreting them in your own voice.
Check out the video below to see how I make these delicious Ginger Scallion Noodles, and then scroll down for my written instructions.
Easy Ginger Scallion Noodles (Inspired by Danny Bowien’s Green Tea Noodles):
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 package vegan ramen noodles (Miso flavored Ichiban Ramen or Top Ramen brand Soy Sauce or Chili flavors) or any noodles you want to use.
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Ginger Scallion Sauce (instructions below)
- ¼ to ½ block silken tofu
- Napa cabbage leaves
- Roughly chopped cilantro
- Chili oil (check out my recipe HERE)
- Hoisin sauce
First, start by making the Ginger Scallion Sauce.
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup finely minced ginger
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
- ½ of the seasoning packet from your ramen noodles
To a heat proof metal or glass bowl, add ginger, scallions, and ½ of the ramen seasoning packet. If you’re not using instant ramen noodles, add a pinch of salt and MSG if you’ve got it. Heat oil in a saucepan just until it’s about to start smoking. Carefully pour the hot oil over the ginger and scallions, stirring as you do. Set aside until ready to use, or let cool before storing in a jar for up to a week.
Heat up the water for your ramen noodles, adding the second half of the seasoning packet to the pot. Once boiling, add your noodles and cook according to package directions.
Chop your napa cabbage into thin strips, separating the frilly leaf end from the thicker stem ends. When 1 minute remains, add the thicker pieces of cabbage to the pot; add the lacier end with 30 seconds remaining.
Drain the water, and place the cooked noodles and cabbage into a serving bowl. Top with chunks of tofu, Ginger Scallion sauce, chili oil, cilantro, and a drizzle of hoisin sauce. Toss just before devouring, adding more Ginger Scallion sauce to taste.
Don’t have tofu, add more veggies. Frozen vegetables will work, just add them to the pot with about 30 seconds remaining.
If you have more delicate greens like arugula or spinach, add them to the top of the dish just before serving.
Coming VERY soon.