Spaghetti squash ramen. I know what you’re thinking.
“Why for, Nik?”
Ok so here’s the truth. I grew up in what one might describe as a…humble…household. And so there were days when ramen was dinner. Which I did not mind at ALL. So let’s get the obvious out of the way.
YES ramen is basically noodles and liquid, neither of which have much nutritive value. YES ramen has a gamillionty-seven milligrams of sodium when you use the flavor packet. And YES after you eat it you retain fluid better than the Hoover Dam. Yes. I know all this.
But damn if I don’t miss me a nice bowl of ramen every now and again!
Thankfully, my RNY pouch doesn’t allow me to “cheat” on this one. Noodles, in all forms, hate me. (Please…no noodle suggestions…I’ve tried them all and they all hate me! I ain’t mad either.) So there shall be no traditional ramen in my life. This also means no ramen burgers. (Serious question…who thought of that? who looked at ramen and thought “we should make a burger out of this?”) No ramen bowls with ramen noodles and fancy add-ins. Nope. None of it. Which is probably a good thing. Although, in my defense, I have low blood pressure and have been specifically advised against a low-sodium diet. (Of course, I also wasn’t given the green light to salt all the things but still…)
Back to the ramen.
So here’s how this is going down, folks. I loooooove me some spaghetti squash. Do you? After I figured out a stupid-easy way to prep it, I set out to make a bunch of stuff with it. So one day I’m in the store and I see my beloved ramen. And I miss it. (Don’t judge me. I see you judging…don’t do it!) But I wasn’t about to risk gut death for those noodles. At 8 years post-op some things just aren’t worth it to me and noodles are one of them! (Conversely chocolate is totally worth it although too much makes me dump.)
And, you know, at first I was all prepared to mourn the seemingly permanent absence of ramen from my life…like…forever…but then I had a lightbulb moment. Or, actually, a “DUH!” moment.
Nikki (I address myself by name when I talk to myself), PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!
So that’s just what I did! My first instinct was to make this with zoodles (and I actually do have a ramen-esque recipe in my recipe book, Oodles of Zoodles), but I also wanted to try it with spaghetti squash because:
- I thought the slight sweetness of the squash would be interesting against a nice, umami broth. (If you don’t know what umami is…I can’t explain it well…so look here.)
- The color matches up pretty well.
- There’s less prep work than with zoodles.
But if you want to use zoodles this recipe works just fine. You’d just cut your zoodles and then you really don’t even need to cook them. Just ladle your hot broth onto them and let them do their thing.
And the broth? It’s so easy! Literally it’s some sort of broth (chicken, beef, veggie, whatever you like) + a bit of sesame oil + a bit of soy sauce (I even used low sodium for you guys) + a bit of garlic and ginger.
I don’t know if I’d call this a hack, but I use a garlic press to smoosh my ginger. For some reason I’ve never gotten into using a garlic press to smoosh garlic. Go figure.
So once your broth is all made, you get to play with this recipe. Because I know you all don’t like the exact same things that I like. For me, a good noodle and broth bowl has to have some mushrooms in it. I loooooove me some mushrooms!
For THIS recipe, I needed something green. That could have easily been bok choy but for some reason I had a taste for green onions, so I just went with that. Spinach, kale or Swiss chard would work just fine too.
The only thing missing was something red. I photographed the bowl alongside some red hot chili peppers (yes, that is actually a thing not just a group!) but I was kinda nervous about putting them IN my broth. Meh. Next time I’m going to go for it. Who needs a stomach lining, anyway?
***OBLIGATORY NOTE FOR FOODS WITH BOTH LIQUIDS & SOLIDS***
So, I get asked a lot if soup violates the eating/drinking together rule. Technically, yes it does. I usually handle that by doing the broth first, followed by the “guts” of the soup, which works fine for me. Your mileage may vary. I did want to say, though, that in this recipe the broth is very functional! You want your fillings sitting in that broth so they can soak up ALL the flavor! Since the broth doesn’t take long to put together, even if you don’t drink the broth, you are still getting the benefit of the broth in the flavor of the squash, the shrimp (or whatever protein you elect) and other ingredients!
We good now? OK!
So I made this ramen in two-serving increments. The very first bowl I tasted fresh from mixing it up and it was…meh. I mean the flavors were there but the sweetness of the squash came through way strong and I was sure I might have to abandon ship because of it!
But then that second portion I ate a day later for my work lunch and…oh. Mah. GERD! It was spot on! Well…not exactly spot on. It was way less salty! Which is my main beef with ramen. I mean, again, I will harken back to my low-blood pressure because technically I don’t need low salt (and goodness knows I love me some salt!) but regular ramen spice is too salty. (And when I say that, it actually means something!)
***OBLIGATORY NOTE ABOUT PROTEIN***
I used shrimp because, like Bubba, I love me some shrimp. This would work well with chicken, pork or beef. I’m not sure this particular recipe (since it’s meant to yield only a few portions) makes a compelling case for marinating and cooking those meats in a way where they won’t be tough as nails in your ramen, though. So my advice: if you make this, and you happen to have a leftover piece of meat, use that! As you can see I also used egg. The egg was woooooooonderful, especially when I ate the bowl after it sat for a day. That egg yolk soaked up that broth and…mmm mmm mmm!