I wish the children’s storybook Ramen For Everyone had been written when my kids were growing up. Today, it inspired me to make my version of Ramen Soup with Fish Balls and Vegetables.
My soup meal was a meat-free, wholesome bowl of clear miso broth, simmered with thick ramen noodles, savory homemade fish balls, and an abundance of vegetables. Served piping-hot, we relished the gummy-like fish balls I made, swirling together with the silken, long wheat noodles, in a very delectable broth. Filipinos love soup and all-in-one soup meals like this make everyone happy at the table. I made my own fish balls ahead of time and froze them. You can also use store-bought fish balls, which are in the frozen aisle of Asian markets or large supermarkets.
But first let me tell you about this wonderful children’s book Ramen for Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja, with delightful illustrations by Shiho Pate.
This is the story of a little boy named Hiro and his father who cook ramen soup together often, for their family meals. One day, Hiro decides he’s old enough to make ramen soup for everyone. But unfortunately, the cooking process doesn’t go as well as Hiro expected. And this is the part I enjoyed the most, when Hiro attempts to make his own version.
The story reminded me of my own two sons when they were little, and how we had many discussions over their meals and what was good for them. One of the challenging times was when it was Lent, and as Catholics, we practiced not eating meat on Fridays. At that time, my boys were not very happy about going meatless. I had to think of creative ways to feed them meals they would enjoy without missing the meaty parts.
In this book, Hiro faces his cooking challenges bravely. He improvised and thought of ways to make the ramen bowls appealing for his parents, and sister. I ended up craving for ramen soup after enjoying the book. The author thoughtfully included a recipe for ramen soup with miso which I used for our own meal. The ingredients were already in my pantry. The instructions were clear enough for adults and children who want to cook their own ramen.
This is a storybook with a basic ramen recipe everyone will cherish. And it’s a template for a great bowl of ramen soup where you can add any toppings you like. Hiro was right. “Every person’s bowl of ramen is unique.” The best lesson I learned from making this bowl of ramen is what the author said, “Have fun and cook for others – it will make them, and you, happy!”
Ramen Soup with Fish Balls and Vegetables
- Food processor or blender
- Mixing bowls
- Large Stockpot
For Fish balls:
- 2 cups flaked, cooked white fish (like snapper, tilapia, pompano)
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup rice flour (like Mochiko)
- 4 Tablespoons milk
- 1 whole egg, beaten
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Ramen Soup
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped shallots
- 2 stalks scallions, chopped, whites for broth, greens for garnish
- 10 cups vegetable stock
- ⅓ cup white miso
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce ( like Kikkoman, or Japanese brands)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 8 to 10 ounces dried ramen or thin Chinese egg noodles
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 whole hard-boiled eggs, peeled, sliced
- 1/2 cup baby corn, canned, drained, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- ½ cup sliced carrots
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- ½ cup straw mushrooms (or use button)
- ½ cup cubed fried tofu
To make the Fish balls:
- Make the fish balls ahead: In a food processor or blender, combine the cooked flaked fish and the onions. Process for 1 to 2 minutes till the mixture is smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, incorporate the processed fish with the all-purpose and rice flours, milk, egg and salt. Mix well till smooth and free of lumps. The mixture should be sticky with no trace of flour left.
- Shape the fish mixture into 1/2-inch balls. This will make about 20 pieces. Place the fish balls in an air-tight plastic container and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. When ready to add to the ramen, take out of the freezer and let the fish balls thaw for about 10 minutes. Drop into the simmering broth and cook for about 15 minutes.
To cook the Ramen Soup:
- Make the broth: In large stockpot, over medium heat, pour the vegetable oil. When oil is hot enough in 1 to 2 minutes, stir-fry the garlic, shallots, and scallion whites for 1 minute.Pour the vegetable stock and cover. Bring to a boil.
- As the stock boils, mix together in a small bowl: the miso and sugar. Set aside.When the stock boils, lower heat to a simmer. Using a ladle, pour half a cup of the stock into the small bowl with the miso and sugar, and blend well. Then, pour this miso mixture into the stockpot.Pour the rest of the ingredients: soy sauce, salt and pepper, and sesame oil. Stir well.
- While the soup stock is simmering, add the ramen. Cook according to package directions, around 3 minutes in the simmering broth. Add the fish balls, carrots, baby corn, cabbage, tofu, and mushrooms. Continue simmering till fish balls and vegetables are cooked, in about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Ladle the soup, noodles, fish balls, and rest of the ingredients in individual bowls.Garnish with slices of hard-boiled eggs, and chopped scallion greens. Serve piping-hot.
- Fish balls: You can substitute store-bought fish balls if desired. They are sold in Asian markets or large supermarkets, at the frozen aisle. Frozen fish balls keep in the freezer for up to 2 months, in air-tight containers or resealable plastic bags.Vegetables: Feel free to add vegetables in season, or whatever is available at the moment.Ramen: Use dried ramen from instant packs or thin Chinese fresh noodles and cook according to package directions. The story book Ramen for Everyone shares the origins of the noodles, as well as safety kitchen tips for children and adults.
- Ramen For Everyone by Patricia Tanumihardja, and illustrated by Shiho Pate (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, NY 2023) is a story book for children ages 4 to 8. I was not compensated to review this book. This was a gift from the author.The book is available in book stores and where most books are sold. Find the author, Patricia Tanumihardja on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her social media platforms and let her know how you like your ramen.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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