If you love kimchi and if you love ramen, you're going to love this vegan kimchi ramen recipe! This homemade, Korean inspired noodle soup is quick and easy to make. It's ready in just 30 minutes! It's a fuss-free, spicy and tangy comfort food that will help you warm up on the cold, rainy day. This wholesome vegetarian recipe is packed with so many healthy ingredients like kimchi, tofu, pak choi and shiitake mushrooms. Korean food lovers will be delighted!
Any Korean food lovers here?
I’ve been really into Korean flavours lately. Ever since I discovered what gochujang is (fermented red chilli paste), I want to add it to everything! And don't even get me started on kimchi... Seriously do I even need to say anything about kimchi? Chances are if you're visiting my blog, you're into plant-based cooking and you love swimming in a jar of kimchi as much as I do!
There is still so much I need to discover and learn about Korean cuisine, don't get me wrong... I'm just getting started here. But seriously, is there a better way to start your Korean food love affair than making a huge pot of insanely flavoursome kimchi ramen? I've been always a crazy kimchi lady and to say I am obsessed with Asian noodle soups would be a bit of an understatement... So this vegan kimchi ramen combines my two biggest obsessions beautifully. I can't stop making it! Hope you will love it as much as I do!
I know you can get a packet of instant kimchi ramen noodles from any Asian supermarket but personally, I am not too thrilled about that option. Yes, I know, we all had to survive on instant ramen packets back in our university days but seriously there comes a time in your life when you simply start caring about what goes into your body and those icky ramen seasoning packets won't exactly cure you of cancer. You know what I mean? Homemade is always best, as you know exactly what goes in your food and nothing beats a freshly prepared pot of warming noodle soup. This ramen recipe is restaurant level, I can promise you that. The only difference is that it is much better for you as it uses fresh, vegan and wholesome ingredients only!
When it comes to Korean cuisine, some of the ingredients used most commonly in Korean cooking are sesame oil, doenjang (fermented bean paste), gochujang (fermented red chilli paste), gochugaru (pepper flakes), soy sauce, napa cabbage and lots of garlic and ginger. This spicy vegan kimchi ramen recipe uses a lot of these ingredients. It is not a 100% traditional Korean dish. It was inspired by a combination of a few popular Korean dishes like Kimchi-Sujebi, Kimchi-Guksu, Kimchi-Jjigae and my obsessions with Asian noodle soups. Traditionally, there is rather a lot of meat and animal-based products in Korean cuisine and I wanted to create a dish with all the best Korean ingredients, cruelty-free. And that's, my friends, how this vegan kimchi ramen was born!
Ingredients you'll need for this insanely flavoursome and spicy kimchi ramen:
- a block of firm tofu
- tamari (instead of more traditional soy sauce - in my recipes, I always use tamari instead of soy sauce as tamari is much lower in sodium than soy sauce)
- vegan ramen noodles
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- red chilli flakes (ok I used Indian chilli flakes, no shame!)
- gochujang (Korean hot red pepper paste)
- dry shiitake mushrooms
- sesame oil
- baby pak choi
- spring onions
- red miso paste (for even more flavour!)
For the full ingredient list with exact amounts, please scroll down to the recipe card.
What is kimchi?
Did you know that South Koreans, on average, eat up to 40 pounds of kimchi each year? I don't blame them, really! Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, such as napa cabbage, cucumber, mustard greens and Korean radish. It's made with a varying selection of seasonings including gochugaru (chilli powder), spring onions, garlic and ginger.
There are so many different varieties of kimchi. They are determined by the main vegetable ingredients and the mix of spices used to season them.
Kimchi is so much more than a side dish, actually. You could say it's more of a way of life. It can be fresh as a salad or fermented over weeks or sometimes even months! Not only it is enjoyed as a side dish but it also cooked into many soup and stew dishes, such as already mentioned Kimchi-Jjigae, Kimchi-Sujebi and Kimchi-Guksu. Vegans devouring kimchi straight from the jar and burying their avocado toast under it will definitely understand what I am trying to say here 🙂
Literally, all senses are activated when we eat kimchi by its rich taste, unique texture, pungent smell, vibrant red colour and even sound (yes, it's alive!). It tastes best when it's nicely acidic and crispy, at its peak fermentation. After a while, as it ages further, it gets sour and vegetables get softer. Older and softer kimchi will be perfect to use up in kimchi soups, stews and other dishes (Fried kimchi rice, anyone?).
Make sure you're using vegan kimchi in this kimchi ramen recipe!
Traditionally , 100% authentic Korean kimchi is made with fish sauce and fermented shrimp but of course, there are also vegetarian kimchi recipes. You should be able to find vegan kimchi in any decent organic food shop or you should even be able to buy some in your favourite Asian vegan restaurant. Or the third option (my favourite): you can make your own kimchi! That way you have full control over ingredients. A recipe for vegan kimchi is coming soon, so stay tuned!
What is gochujang?
Gochujang is a fermented bean paste that has red pepper powder, soybean powder and rice flour added to it to create a spicy paste. Gochujang can be used as a seasoning and sometimes as a dipping sauce. In Korean cuisine, vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, and cabbage use gochujang as a dip. This fermented bean paste is also a common seasoning for foods such as Korean barbecue. One popular snack food that is very commonly eaten with Korean gochujang paste is bibimbap. Bibimbap includes rice, spinach, radish and bean sprouts. Sometimes beef is also added to bibimbap. Another popular Korean dish including gochujang is tteokbokki.
Gochujang paste adds a lot of heat and colour and a bit of sweetness to many Korean dishes. It's usually sold in a red plastic tub. You should be able to get in any Korean or Asian grocery store and of course, it's also available online. Once opened it has to be refrigerated and used within three months.
Why this kimchi ramen recipe is so amazing?
- It's amazing because it's vegan and I am so happy that my vegan and vegetarian friends will be able to experience Korean flavours thanks to this vegan kimchi ramen recipe! Traditionally, Korean cuisine uses a lot of animal-based products (even in kimchi) and we definitely need more vegetarian and vegan recipes of Korean food which is truly amazing and unique and more people should be able to fully appreciate it!
- Because this is hands down the most flavoursome ramen you will ever taste in your life! Kimchi does take this soup to the next level. It adds bags of flavour (so tangy!) to the soup broth and also a different texture to contrast soft ramen noodles.
Tips to make the best kimchi ramen:
- Make sure you use sour, well-fermented kimchi rather than freshly made. Freshly made kimchi won't work at all as we want bags of flavour from sour kimchi that has been sitting around in your fridge for a couple of weeks. But this is really great as this kimchi ramen is so perfect for using up your kimchi that has been crying forgotten at the back of your fridge!
- Prepare your ramen noodles according to instructions from the packaging (And double check if they're vegan, too! Some ramen has eggs in ingredients, so be careful!) Add your ramen noodles to the soup right before serving or they will get too soggy!
- When it comes to Asian noodle soup bowls, it's all about toppings, of course! Top this kimchi ramen with heaps of chopped spring onions, chives, red chilli flakes and white sesame seeds!
This kimchi ramen is:
- vegan (eggless and dairy-free)
- can be made gluten-free if you manage to find vegan wheat-free ramen noodles
- quick and easy to make (it will be ready in 30 minutes!)
- a must for Korean food lovers
- spicy and tangy
- super satisfying
- amazingly rich and flavoursome
- healthy and wholesome (so much better for you than those yucky instant ramen packets)
- a fuss-free, budget-friendly warming winter comfort food
Obsessed with noodle soups at the moment? Then be sure to also check out these vegan noodle soup recipes:
Authentic Vietnamese Pho - easy vegan pho recipe bursting with flavour. It's got cardamom, anise, cinnamon and coriander in it. This will probably be the most flavoursome soup you will have in your life.
Spicy miso ginger vegetable soup - this delicious immunity booster will definitely help you survive every winter.
Thai red curry noodle soup - combining my two loves: noodle soups and Thai cuisine. Do I even need to say anything?
Thai yellow curry soup with tempeh and black soba noodles - more Thai food! And this time I decided to drown a lot of tempeh in it!
Thai green curry noodle soup - and last but not least: did you know that a bit of galangal and lemongrass can help you create some seriously fragrant comfort food magic?