"This recipe is inspired by tantanmen ramen – a Japanese take on Sichuan dan dan noodles, with a broth made from soya milk and sesame – but it is by no means authentic. Typically this would have a proper stock as the base and be topped with minced (ground) pork, but I got attached to the idea of a ramen that could be knocked up quickly and that remained vegetarian/vegan. I also wanted to use udon noodles (again, untraditional), because I love their texture: big, fat, slippery, chewy – is there anything more satisfying?
This is a perfect lunch or dinner for two, in part because the mushrooms and leeks benefit from not being overcrowded when you cook them. It is best to use a Middle Eastern brand of tahini for this recipe."
Serves: 2 | Prep Time: 30 mins
For the broth:
Tip: When cooking mushrooms, there are three rules: 1. high heat; 2. refrain from moving them around too much; 3. only salt them in the last couple of minutes of cooking. This helps to ensure that they properly caramelise.
Alexina Anatole started her career on a trading floor in the City of London, but an obsession with food was always present. In the last year of her twenties, she decided - after years of watching the show - that she was finally ready to enter MasterChef. Weeks of competing resulted in her reaching the final of the 2021 season, coming runner-up to champion Thomas Rhodes. The competition led her to realise that she might actually have a talent for cooking but, more importantly, it helped her to better understand her philosophy around food and flavour. Having read English at Cambridge, she now finds herself becoming a food writer - and thus coming full circle.
Bitter by Alexina Anatole
Her much anticipated new cookbook, Bitter, is out now and available to order here: bit.ly/BitterCookbook
Photography by: Yuki Sugiura (recipe photo) and Danika Magdalena (Alexina's profile photo)