The cooking life is a long one. It comes with its own seasons and weather patterns. Time, interest, inspiration, resources all wax and wane, and if you don’t flow with them, you’ll run aground on the island of Domino’s delivery. At least, that’s where I found myself last year: ordering takeout, eating too much pizza, and slapping together only the most basic meals I could muster. This is temporary, I reassured myself, but a tiny voice in the back of my mind wondered. Was it truly temporary? Had my passion for cooking finally fizzled out?
Turns out that being pregnant in a pandemic while quarantining with two preschoolers who want to eat every hour except the dinner hour is a quick way to burn out on cooking. When the baby came and the weather changed, so did I. Meal planning stopped feeling torturous, and I started bookmarking recipes to try again. I treated myself to regular grocery pick-up. I was delighted by the return of fall apples and winter squash. I found my way back in.
Ginger scallion ramen noodles with mushrooms were a happy discovery in my search for dairy-free dinners (hello, new season). Easy and quick and unbelievably delicious, they disappeared out of our bowls so fast my husband and I stared at each other, surprised. “I could eat these every week,” he raved. We won’t, of course—for me, that’s a fast track to burnout island. But I do expect to end up there again at some point. Rest is an important part of any sustainable practice, and I’ve realized sometimes the best way to keep cooking is to stop for a while.
Ingredients: Mushroom Scallion Ramen Noodles
3/4 lb. ground pork
1 head Savoy cabbage
3 packages ramen noodles, any flavor, seasoning packet discarded
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 (1-inch) section ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 scallions, sliced thinly
Pinch of chile flakes (to taste)
1/4 cup mirin
1/3 cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
Sesame seeds, for garnish
1 Tbs. sesame oil
Sriracha, for serving
1. Cut the cabbage in half through the core and then again to make quarters. Remove the core and slice the remaining cabbage finely. Place sliced cabbage in a colander in the sink.
2. Stir mirin and soy sauce together in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned, stirring. Add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil along with the chopped mushrooms. Salt lightly and let cook undisturbed 1 minute before stirring, cooking another 3–4 minutes until browned. Stir in the grated ginger, half of the scallions, and a pinch of chile flakes to taste. Cook for 1 more minute.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, drop in the ramen noodles and cook until just beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Drain the noodles over the cabbage in the colander, wilting the cabbage as you do so.
5. Return the cabbage and noodles to the sauté pan with the mushrooms and pork. Pour in the mirin-soy sauce with the last half of scallions and toss until well-combined. Finish with sesame oil and sesame seeds to taste. Serve in bowls with sriracha or your preferred hot sauce on the side.
*Note: This dish is delicious with just mushrooms, so feel free to omit the pork for a vegan option.
Photography by Jivan Davé