Food, Wine

Noodle Mania

Catch the wave: Surely, you’ve noticed the ramen tsunami. Ramen shops are suddenly everywhere, the hottest trend to hit the restaurant world since, well, maybe forever. Wholesome, affordable, fast, and filling—what’s not to like about ramen? If you could eat ramen in the car, burger chains might need to worry.

Asparagus Ramen

But here’s what nobody tells you about ramen: You can make it at home. Easily. Most supermarkets carry fresh ramen noodles now in a refrigerated case. Float the noodles in rich broth with a silky six-minute egg. Add whatever vegetables you’re craving, a drizzle of sesame oil, a dash of seasoning. Shichimi togarashi (the Japanese spice blend) will give your masterpiece that authentic ramen-shop taste.

California asparagus are at their peak right now, tender and tasty whether they’re skinny spears or jumbo size. Look for tightly closed tips and several inches of bright green color. California asparagus growers like Couture Farms are world leaders in sustainability, fertilizing their fields with compost tea and composting all their packing-house trimmings. Father-daughter growers Chris and Caitlin Couture are proud of their soil’s productivity and health. On a warm day, the spears can rise six inches. Even Caitlin’s toddler son, Dylan, likes to get up close and eye level with the amazing, fast-growing “grass.”

Green Medal Awards Logo


Time for a shout-out to California’s newest Green Medal winners, recognized for modeling sustainable practices in the wine industry. Medals are awarded annually in four categories (Leader, Environment, Community and Business), and both wineries and grape growers are eligible. Cue the drumroll, please. The 2019 honorees are Silver Oak Cellars, Scheid Family Wines, Smith Family Wines, and Domaine Carneros. Watch the video to learn what these enterprises are doing to keep California wines on the cutting edge of sustainability.

The Pour

Which Wine?

California Sauvignon Blanc is the go-to pour for dishes that showcase spring vegetables, like this ramen bowl. Most bottlings tend to have a lean, steely texture and bright citrus or herbal flavors that complement green vegetables. A few vintners blend in Semillon for a fleshier style or use oak aging to give their Sauvignon Blanc more complexity. The variety appreciates a warm climate. Lake County, Napa Valley, and inland areas of Sonoma County are among the best sites for this popular variety.

Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings

Ramen with Asparagus, Shiitake, and Edamame

Everybody loves ramen. The noodles are slippery and satisfying, the broth nourishing, and it’s okay to slurp. Use this recipe as a template for your own inspirations. When asparagus is not in season, substitute spinach or mustard greens. If you can’t find edamame (soybeans), try green peas. A quivering six-minute egg continues to cook in the hot broth and adds richness.

Ramen with Asparagus, Shiitake, and Edamame


  • 3 1⁄2 cups (875 ml) rich chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1⁄2 cup (5 g) dried bonito flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄2 pound (250 g) fresh ramen noodles
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, about 1 1⁄2 oz (45 g), stems removed, then sliced
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 1⁄2 cup (70 g) fresh or frozen shelled edamame
  • 2⁄3 cup (70 g) diagonally sliced asparagus tips, in slices 1⁄4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 1⁄4 cup (65 g) white miso
  • 1⁄4 cup (30 g) minced green onion, white and pale green part only
  • Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend), for garnish

Serves 2


Bring the broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the bonito flakes, sprinkling them on the surface. Let them steep for 3 to 4 minutes, then strain through cheesecloth and return the strained broth to the saucepan.

Put enough water in a small saucepan to cover the egg generously but do not add the egg yet. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer so you can add the egg without jostling it. While the water is heating, prepare a bowl of ice water. With a large spoon, lower the egg into the simmering water, working carefully so it does not crack. Adjust the heat so the egg cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook the egg for 6 minutes exactly. Transfer the egg to the ice water with a slotted spoon. When cool, lift it out of the water and peel.

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ramen noodles and stir well to keep the noodles from clumping. Cook, stirring often, until the noodles are al dente (the timing will depend on their freshness). With tongs, lift the noodles out of the pot and into a sieve or colander. Rinse with cool water and shake well to remove any excess water. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil to prevent clumping.

Fill two large soup bowls with hot water from the ramen pot to warm them.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a small nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.

Return the broth to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add the edamame and simmer gently until they are almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. (You can add frozen edamame without thawing.) Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute. Put the miso in a small bowl and whisk in enough of the hot broth to make a smooth, pourable mixture. Stir the thinned miso into the broth. Salt to taste.

Drain the hot water from the soup bowls. Divide the noodles and mushrooms between the bowls. Top with the steaming-hot broth, dividing it evenly. Halve the boiled egg and nestle one half in each bowl. Garnish generously with the green onions and shichimi togarashi and serve.

Recommended Pairings

Sauvignon Blanc, California Riesling or Gewürztraminer

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