You may be aware from previous blogs that I adhere to a fairly low carb diet. I’m not saying it’s the way to go for everyone (I am a huge advocate for bioindividuality, particularly when it comes to diet). But it has certainly worked wonders for me in normalising hormone imbalances and generally resulting in a healthier, happier me. One of the challenges I faced when starting out on this dietary journey was finding substitutes for products that I really love to eat. This was important to me as I love food, love to eat and my husband LOVES to cook and I didn’t want to miss out on some of our favourite dishes, such as Japanese noodle soup aka ramen!!
Ramen is a delicious noodle soup full of umami flavours and tasty toppings! A key ingredient is obviously – noodles! And given it is served in a piping hot dashi (broth), spiralised veggie noodles were not going to cut it as they would end up a soggy and unappealing mess! Enter kelp noodles. I admit I was sceptical and it certainly took some trial and error to get it right as they have a very crunchy texture if you don’t boil the hell out of them which isn’t nice and isn’t at all like real noodles.
What are kelp noodles?
Kelp noodles are made from three ingredients only: sea kelp, sodium alginate (an extract from brown seaweed) and water. They are literally almost nothing! As in they have zero protein, zero fat and zero sugar, and only 1g of carb per 100g. They are high in dietary minerals and have 870 mg of dietary fibre per 100g. At $12.95 for this packet they ain’t cheap. I would get four bowls of ramen out of one packet though to put that in perspective.
According to the packet, no cooking required! Just rinse, chop and serve! In this format they are crunchy, so might work well mixed through a salad – I haven’t tried that yet! They really taste like nothing….just a slightly briny flavour. But for ramen I want a softer, more noodle like texture so I rinse and boil in plain water for 10-15 minutes to try and get them to soak up a bit of liquid.
Let’s make ramen!
There are so many great recipes for ramen around. You can go all out and make the dashi broth from scratch which is a long process but worth it for the depth of flavour. My husband whipped up a quick week night version last week and he simply simmered some aromatics (chunks of ginger, garlic and spring onions) in some chicken stock. Then added miso paste to taste on the stove top.
I made some soy sauce eggs that morning so they were marinading all day. Seriously….. these eggs are like crack to me (“crack eggs”? har dee har har)!!! They are eye-rollingly delicious and totally addictive! Basically you boil eggs to the point where the white is firm but the yolks are still “egg porn” runny (5-7 minutes depending on how runny you want them), then marinade them for up to 24 hours in a delicious marinade. I got the recipe from this book:
Prep all your toppings in advance. Aaron had some pre-cooked pork belly in the freezer which he defrosted, sliced and fried off for colour and flavour just before serving – SO DELICIOUS! We also like fresh enoki mushrooms, sweet corn, sliced spring onion and bean sprouts – no cooking required, just add them to the hot broth and they’ll soften up a bit. Your soy egg, sliced horizontally and a piece of nori adds a finishing touch. Once your broth is ready, remove the kelp noodles from the boil and place in the bottom of a BIG bowl. Pour over your hot broth then arrange all your toppings as desired. You can dress with additional soy sauce and ideally shichimi (Japanese chilli powder). Grab yourself some chopsticks and tuck in. So good!
The kelp noodles done this way are soft and noodle like and seem to absorb the flavour of the broth. The experience, although not identical to normal noodles, is pretty close and still really enjoyable and delicious, with none of the carbs, making this overall a super light and healthy meal option!
If you’re interested in any other of my go to meal alternatives drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org