Italian Shogun

Inspired by Venus Palermo’s Italian Ramen, Italian Shogun utilizes a brand of noodles similar to the crinkly instant Ramen that Americans are used to, without the MSG and other harmful ingredients (unless you’re gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy, in which case they’re still harmful, but you can use rice noodles). The Shogun brand is available in Thailand, at least in the Chaingmai province, but there are other brands containing similar ingredients, and similarly being without MSG. if no such brands are available to you, and you would eat instant ramen anyway, then you may use the instant ramen noodles, but if you live in the US, you might find something in the oriental section of some grocery stores, including super Walmart, Wegmans, Bi-lo and Food Lion.

There are many ways to make this, and many different vegetables, vegan meats, and vegan cheeses that you can add to Italian Shogun. It’s like making spaghetti, but you use different noodles and cook them in seasoned tomato juice instead of water (though some brands or types of noodles may need to be cooked in water first).

To make Italian Shogun, pour about 3 cups of tomato juice into a pan for two servings of noodles. Keep extra juice on hand in case you need it, and extra noodles on hand in case it’s too much. Season with some Italian seasoning, or a pinch of oregano and two pinches of thyme and a pinch of rosemary. I like to load mine with basil, lots of basil, like 2 Tbsp to  1/4th a cup of dried basil when it’s available. You could use fresh herbs instead, if they are available. Don’t forget the salt. Start with a pinch and add more after cooking if more is needed. Be generous with garlic powder (or crushed fresh garlic) if desired. You could also add dried onion and/or dried garlic. If you don’t know how much to use, start with 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic (small) or 2-3 large cloves, or 1 tsp of garlic powder, if you like garlic. If not, you don’t have to use it.

Some vegetables, such as eggplant, onions, bell pepper and fresh mushrooms may need to be sautéed or steamed before adding to the sauce. Likewise, some veggie meats that require cooking should be steamed, fried, baked, or microwaved beforehand. Any frozen veggies or veggie meats should be thawed ahead of time so that no ice remains.

Most recently, I was going to use eggplant, but found a big fat worm in one of the eggplants, though I saw no hole and tossed all of it, just in case (even though I had already eaten one). I still had mushrooms and vegetarian sausage (which here in Thailand is like hot dogs), and used that. If you are living in Thailand and haven’t used their vegetarian sausage links yet, it should be noted that they are individually wrapped in plastic, so remove the plastic before cooking. I used canned whole mushrooms. These I sliced in half, and I also sliced the sausage, and brought them to a boil in the sauce.

I have also used spinach, onion, bell pepper, eggplant, and vegetarian ham in the past (not all together), and might have used tofu also. Basically just mix everything together, bring it all to a boil, add noodles, and cook until the noodles are done (assuming that your vegetables are already pre-cooked. If not, cook for a few minutes first, until they are tender.

Updated (06/21/2016): Today I had this for lunch. I put canned mushrooms in it, but I’ve lost my taste for mushrooms, and wish that I hadn’t put them in. The noodles in the sauce were delicious though. I used one single-serving juice box of double tomato juice (mixing red and yellow tomato), and some coconut milk. I’m not sure how much exactly, maybe about 1/2 and 1/2, or about 3 parts tomato juice and 1 part coconut milk (so that would be 1/4 cup of coconut milk and 3/4 cup of tomato juice if making one cup of sauce, though I think I had more than one cup, and it was closer to half and half. Then I added some olive oil, garlic salt, and marjoram. This simple combination yielded I think the most tasty sauce yet for Italian Shogun since I ran out of dried basil. Yum!

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