by Matt Starsoneck
Few things nourish my soul and keep me fighting like two plain slices and a coke. Pizza is a beautiful thing, and something core to my being (you are what you eat okay), but moving to California has given me incredibly few options for good by-the-slice places. What has grabbed a strong hold of my attention, especially in the winter, is life-changingly good ramen, the kind of stuff you’d happily wait in line for an hour for without a second thought.
At one of these absurdly packed places, I had a pretty non-traditional tomato based broth ramen, and it absolutely floored me. Why isn’t this everywhere??? It was like pizza’s distant cousin they never knew they had, and the perfect thing for summer. But, when I went back for another the next week, they had taken it off the menu.
So, at the suggestion of my SO and a discovery of the cutest god damn tomatoes in the world at a farmer’s market, I endeavored to make my own tomato ramen. We found a recipe that pulled inspiration and ingredients from a Japanese ramen shop called Taiyou no Tomato that specializes in the good red stuff, and modified it to work with the ingredients we have here.
It’s been a rough year so far, but the thing I’ve been legitimately the most excited for is when tomato season hits peak and those good good farmer’s market tomatoes get so nice and sweet. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me, but comfort food will sure as hell keep me alive.
Here’s the recipe:
1.5 lbs of momotaro tomatoes. If you can’t find those, odoriko tomatoes, and failing those, some deep red heirloom tomatoes, or any sweet tomato you can find. I’m spoiled in California.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large handful of mizuna, or if not available, baby spinach
1.5 cups of unsalted chicken broth, or vegetable broth (I do unsalted and salt the whole thing to taste, but if you wanna try pre-salted broth go for it)
1 handful of basil, chopped
1 tbsp onion powder
1 pack of Sun Noodle fresh ramen noodles OR if you can’t find those, 2 packs of Myojo Chukazanmai instant noodles (listen to Kenji, his word is gospel)
Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.
In a large saucepan, put in the 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat and add the 2 cloves of minced garlic once the oil is hot.
Once the garlic is fragrant and turning a light brown, add in most of the mizuna/spinach (leaving some for garnish) and pour in the tomato sauce.
Add in the 1.5 cups of chicken/vegetable stock, basil, and onion powder, and simmer for 20 minutes. Once that’s done, salt to taste, and if you want it a little sweeter to make up for your tomatoes not being as sweet, add some sugar to taste as well.
Cook the noodles in a separate saucepan to the package specifications, drain, and add to bowls.
Ladle the soup on top of the noodles, top with mizuna, and if you’ve opted to bring cheese into the mix, add that on top as well.