Spring is the time when everything is shockingly beautiful where we live. It’s shocking because we spend months kicking up the dust and gazing out to a very sienna landscape, punctuated by moments of sagebrush. But daaaaamn, Spring, you do it right over here. It helps that we live on a farm not far from the Rio Grande, and the color explodes from every section of the garden, illuminating our garden with verdant expectation.
So, all that’s to say that we are PSYCHED to make everything come Spring, and we go out and harvest and pickle and play in the garden, relishing every moment before it gets too hot and things start bolting and wilting (including me).
This dish features our homemade pickled radishes (super easy), purple bok choi ceviche with violets and fresh spearmint, shredded carrot salad, fresh eggs from our chickens, spring onions, arame seaweed, and sautéed chanterelles in a succulent nettle and adzuki miso broth.
I love ramen bowls because they allow for the full seasonal expression of whatever is growing or forgeable in that moment. They are vehicle of exhibition, and I am all about it.
Okay, I started with the Broth:
* 64 ounces of water or broth of your choice
* 2 cups of packed nettle leaves off the woody stems
* 1/2 cup South River Adzuki Bean Miso
(you can order this online if you can’t find it or substitute another miso you love. I love their miso because it is small batch, traditional style and there are no soy versions like this one.)
* sea salt to taste
Directions: Put the water or broth in a large pot, and bring to a low boil. Add the nettles and cook for about 7 minutes. Blend with a hand blender or pour into your blender and blend on high for a smooth consistency. Pour back into the pot once it is blended thoroughly. Now stir in the miso until it is blended. Miso needs to be activated by heat, but boiling or microwaving reduces it’s effectiveness. Set aside.
*This is a good time to soak about 3 good pinches of arame seaweed in a small bowl of water-make sure it’s covered with lukewarm water. It will expand and become soft when you let it soak (at least 15 minutes).
Bok Choi “Ceviche”:
* 3 heads baby bok chou-purple is fun!
* 1 whole lime juiced
* 1 Tbsp fresh spearmint very finely chopped
* 1 tsp sea salt
This can be made hours ahead of time and refrigerated. Ribbon the bok choi and throw into a medium bowl. Squeeze the lime over it and mix the chopped spearmint and sea salt in, squeezing the whole thing a few times with your hands to get everything moving. Let it marinate for 15 minutes to several hours in the fridge, covered. When you are ready to serve it, add the violets.
Pickled Ginger-Sesame Carrot Salad :
* 3 large carrots finely shredded
* pickled sushi ginger-4 slices and little juice from the container
* 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
* 1 1/2 Tbsps toasted black sesame seeds
* 2 tsps. Dehydrated beet powder
Shred your carrots and add them to a medium bowl. Mix in the toasted sesame oil and sushi ginger. In a small pan over medium heat, quickly stir the sesame seeds until you smell them toasting. Mix them into the carrot salad. I also added beet powder that we had dehydrated and powdered from last season, but I think you may be able to find it in stores also. Without it, this salad will still be excellent.
* Prepare your ramen noodles in a separate pot of boiling water and drain and rinse. I use the forbidden black rice ramen noodles because I love the color!
* Hard boil an egg for every bowl you are serving, and cut lengthwise. I like to leave the yolk a little runny because it’s delicious mixed in with the soup and looks beautiful.
* Cut green onions about 3 inches long.
* Sautee sliced mushrooms of your choice in a neutral oil with salt to taste-I use about 1/2 cup per bowl. (chanterelles are amazing if you can find them!)
* Have some kind of pickle like kim chi or pickled radish to add to your bowl for complexity, interest and digestion
Assembling the Perfect Bowl:
1. Add your cooked noodles first in a pile in the center of the bowl.
2. Ladle the broth in so there’s still a hill of noodles, and plenty to rest some of the other bowl additions.
3. Artfully arrange the bowl so the oranges and greens and purples are all balanced and at least separated by one other item. I like to think of color wheels when I make ramen bowls. A delicious rainbow circle. Yep.
We ate this last night for dinner, and totally savored every single bite of it. Color and freshness is key in a ramen bowl, and nothing feeds the body and soul quite like eating what is available out the back door, or at your local market.
Let’s do this, Spring.