Ramen with Cauliflower

cauli_ramenpRamen (the famous Japanese huge bowl of noodles and toppings in a stock) is such a particularly filling dish, I gradually got used to cutting down the noodle portion by half and replacing it with vegetables. Courgette, thanks to its neutral taste and short cooking time, has always been my favourite. Cauliflower is not something I think of when cooking Japanese, but I have recently discovered that when slightly blanched, it pairs very well with my ramen and is an excellent light replacement for the left half package of noodles.

As I have already mentioned here, ramen soup is all about stock (by the way, if you are a ramen fan and don’t know the film Tampopo yet, you must absolutely see it!). Ramen can be made with different stocks, based on various ingredients and these are usually more important to big amateurs than the toppings or other ingredients added just before serving. Thanks to Nancy Hachisu and her Japanese Farm Food I discovered a perfect homemade ramen based on baked chicken bones and vegetables. I like it so much, I sometimes prepare it two weeks in a row (which means having several ramens a week). It has a bold, deep taste but is not heavy or high-calorie (if you skim the fat), so it can be enjoyed even by those who watch their waistline (unlike, for example, tonkotsu, the very heavy and thick pork bone stock I couldn’t prepare regularly, even though I like it and will always order it in Japan). For me it’s particularly convenient since I often buy a whole chicken and then cut it up on my own, so the chicken carcass I am left with is ideal for this type of home ramen stock. Please check my (slightly modified) recipe explained in details here and read the original one in Nancy Hachisu’s Japanese Farm Food.


I have never liked mushy cauliflower and here only quickly blanched one is used (it must still be crunchy). Even if you prefer mushy cauliflower, its flavours will get stronger, changing the whole ramen, so I strongly advise against it. Do not cook the raw cauliflower in the ramen stock. It will dominate the taste of the whole dish even more.

I usually break dry noodles portion in two and use only half (a whole portion is too much for me), but of course feel free to use the whole portion.

Below is a list of my favourite toppings, some being obviously not traditional at all (I like adding frozen peas for example). I am crazy for yuzu koshou (see the super easy recipe here) with its slight bitterness, but many people dislike it, so taste it first (it will change the taste of the whole soup). I also like adding soy sauce before serving ramen. Check Wikipedia if you want to read the list of strictly Japanese toppings.

Strained stock will keep for at least four days in the coldest part of the fridge (I have never tested a longer period).

Preparation: (if you already have the stock ready) 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

1 – 2 portions of dry Japanese noodles (my favourite are thin, very curly yellowish wheat noodles)

soy sauce (I use low-sodium to have more soy sauce taste but not too much salt)

blanched crunchy (not mushy!) cauliflower

Some of my favourite toppings (I usually don’t put them all at the same time):

half-boiled egg (hard-boiled is ok too)

sliced roast meat (usually pork is used, but I often put some roast or grilled chicken too; here I have used chicken breast grilled in pieces)

chopped spring onions or chives

crunchy sediments from thick Japanese chilli and and garlic oil taberu rayu (see the recipe here) or simply chilli oil

yuzu koshou (chilli and yuzu peel paste, see the recipe here or a Westernised lime and chilli paste)

shichimi togarashi (Japanese hot seasoning; you can see it on the egg halves)

soy bean or mung bean sprouts

frozen green peas

Reheat the stock. Add soy sauce to taste.

Break the dry noodles portion in two (if you want to make a bigger, more filling ramen, use two portions).

In the meantime boil some water and put ramen noodles into it.

Cover and wait about 10 minutes until they soften (I prefer them slightly al dente but feel free to leave them for longer).

In each bowl put small pieces of blanches cauliflower, a 1/2 portion (or whole portion) of noodles and pour the stock over them.

Add the toppings: sprouts, halved egg, roasted meat, chives, chili oil… Serve very hot!

26 Replies to “Ramen with Cauliflower”

  1. Cauliflower isn’t a veggie that I’m very fond of but in this soup it sounds like it fits in wonderfully. One day, I’ll pick up a head and give some of the cauliflower recipes I’ve been storing a try. 🙂

  2. Your ramen soup definitely looks hearty, filling, and full of flavor. I’m like you, not a big fan of mushy cauliflower and I don’t mind using pork as it is very flavorful. It is making me hungry already. Have a nice mid week to you Sissi. 🙂

  3. This is my kind of comfort meal…I too do not like mushy cauliflower…
    Looks delicious Sissi…like the egg on it…yum!
    Hope you are having a wonderful week 😀

  4. I think you and I could agree that just about any soup is all about the stock. 🙂 What a unique ramen soup. I’ve never seen cauliflower in a ramen soup or in pretty much any Asian style soup. Just like you, as long as it’s still crunchy, I’ll eat it and the texture would be quite nice here. Great soup Sissi! Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a beautiful soup! I too have adapted to reducing the noodles (yummy and addicting) with vegetables. I think I could enjoy virtually any vegetable in a good stock and sip it all day long 🙂 but this soup is so much more… I’m enjoying all of your ingredient choices Sissi — the fresh looking chives (so spring inviting), the egg, the crunchy cauliflower and the delightful bean sprouts. A satisfying meal in a bowl. What’s not to fall in love with here?

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I’m glad I’m not the only one “cheating” my eyes and replacing noodles with vegetables 😉

  6. This makes me hungry (or thirsty?). I plan to make your chicken stock soon, its been on my mind for a while. Seen too many soup dishes/recipes lately.
    Cauliflower and broccoli are great in soups, though it does significantly change the flavour of the stock.
    I am guessing the stock will freeze quite well. But I am also guessing that the soup mysteriously disappears fast so there is not much to freeze. Soups do evaporate:)

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I think that if you blanch the cauliflower before (not cook in the stock) and do not overcook it, it doesn’t change the taste. Mushy cauliflower does and of course cauliflower cooked in the stock for some time changes the taste too. It was quite neutral here.

  7. Your ramen looks so delicious! What a great and creative idea to fill you up with cauliflower! Brilliant idea. It has neutral flavor that it does makes sense to use it to substitute as half of noodles. I need to do that. I’m trying to reduce some carbs too… I figured it’s “necessity” to lose my weight! I agree about not mushy cauliflower. Gotta try your method!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. When spring comes we all start to think it’s a necessity to lose some of the winter fat stock 😉 Good luck!

  8. Cauliflower wasn’t exactly my favorite food as a kid! Now I appreciate it more and this soup looks absolutely perfect. The weather here is cold, windy and rainy and this soup would be the perfect remedy!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. I have never been against cauliflower, but always hated its mushy version.

  9. Such a pretty and colorful presentation, Siss! Love the combination of the cauliflower and ramen noodles. The hard boiled eggs are a welcome and delicious addition, along with the green spring onion!

  10. Hi Sissi, I must ask – when you say “blanched”, how soft is that… opinions can vary somewhat. I know you say “not mushy” (because yuck!) but could you, say, run a stick through it easily-ish? As you know I’m not a huge fan of cauli, but I adore it when it’s raw (or blanched very briefly). I think using it in ramen is a really great idea, very novel. I think as long as it had a good bit of crunch to it it must be fantastic!

    1. Thank you, Charles. I don’t know if I can run a stick through it easily… it’s just crunchy. Blanching is always a very brief process.

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