Sesame Butter Ramen Noodles with Cauliflower and Crispy Beef Meatballs

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I’ve had a box of ramen burning a hole in the back of my pantry since March, aka the beginning of the end, aka the month where I bought the most random ingredients to “stock my pantry” because there was a global pandemic erupting across the globe, and that seemed like the appropriate response.

I’ve been wanting to add a new beef meatball recipe to my repertoire, and I knew ramen had to be a part of it. But I didn’t want a brothy soup ramen sich. So I started experimenting with making a saucy ramen noodle. These sesame butter noodles got rave reviews from both George AND Mattis, so I knew I was on to something. But it was missing something to keep it from being a total carb bomb – oh right, a vegetable. I wanted a veggie that would melt right in with the noodles, still allowing the noodles to be the star. Cauliflower! We cook it until it’s so soft that it almost blends into the sesame butter sauce. Absolutely delicious.

Feel free to use any type of ground meat in this recipe, just cook them for a bit less time if you use chicken or turkey so that they don’t dry out.

Sesame Butter Ramen Noodles with Cauliflower and Crispy Beef Meatballs

Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Large nonstick skillet
  • Saucepan or pot (to boil the noodles)

Ingredients

Crispy Beef Meatballs

  • 1 lb Ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsps 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic cloves grated
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil

Sesame Butter Noodles with Cauliflower

  • 1/2 Head of cauliflower
  • 2-3 packages of ramen noodles (6 to 8 ounces of noodles – these come in all different shapes and sizes so it’s best to just approximate. If you’re using the classic ramen noodles with the packet of seasoning, throw away the packet! You’ll need 2 of those, they’re about 3 ounces each)
  • 5 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsps toasted sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Optional: sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • To make the meatballs: In a large bowl combine 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 large egg (whisk it lightly after cracking it into the bowl), 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 2 grated garlic cloves. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with 1/4 cup olive oil, then roll 15 to 20 meatballs and add them to the baking sheet. Roll them around so they are coated in oil.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until all sides are browned, and meatballs are very crispy on the bottom.
  • Meanwhile, make the Sesame Butter Noodles with Cauliflower.
  • Bring a large saucepan or pot of salted water to a boil over high heat Very, very, very thinly slice 1/2 head of cauliflower, then chop it into bite-sized pieces. Lots of little pieces will crumble and fall apart – that’s OK! Add all of the cauliflower, including the little crumbles, to the pot of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Add 2 or 3 packets of ramen and cook according to package instructions.
  • Drain off all but 1/4 cup water and return the pot to medium heat. Add 5 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil, and 2 grated garlic cloves to the pot. Toss for 1 minute, or until the butter has melted and combined with the cooking liquid into a silky sauce. Stir in 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup basil and toss to combine.
  • As always, TASTE! Need more salt? Add more soy sauce! Want it saucier? Add another splash of water or stock and another tablespoon of butter! Need a fresher pop? More basil! Loving that sesame taste and want more of it? You know what to do!
  • Divide the noodles between 4 bowls, top with meatballs, sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) and more basil and chow down!

Notes

Substitutions

  • First of all, these noodles AND meatballs are both delicious on their own. The Meatballs would be great over rice (and a beef meatball rice bowl is coming soon!) or served with some roasted veggies.
  • Beef: any type of ground meat works. Cook chicken and turkey for a bit less time. Pork would be delightful!
  • Panko: any kind of breadcrumb works. GF: use rice breadcrumbs – TJ’s and Whole Foods sell them.
  • Egg: you can just omit it, or you can make a flax egg.
  • Toasted sesame oil: 1 tablespoon tahini! Will work in the meatballs and the noodles.The oil will combine much more easily into the sesame butter sauce. Normal sesame oil (not toasted) works perfectly.
  • Garlic cloves: 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in the meatballs, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder in the noodles.
  • Cauliflower: broccoli! carrots! Fennel! Honestly anything goes, just cut it thinly so that it’ll cook quickly with the ramen, or cook it for longer! It should be ALMOST ready when you add the ramen to the pot.
  • Ramen: soba, egg noodles, or even spaghetti!
  • Butter: a DF butter alternative works, but all oil really doesn’t. Butter gets silky and makes a nice sauce, too much oil is just… oily!
  • Low-sodium soy sauce: 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce, or tamari or coconut aminos all work! Just adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Basil: cilantro!
 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese

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