For most of my life, ramen meant the instant kind, and I loved it. Then, my friend introduced me to real Japanese ramen, and I was in love. The first time I had it was at Ken's Ramen House, which sadly, has now closed. He made real tonkatsu ramen broth and imported the ramen noodles, and according to my friend, it was pretty authentic. There are a couple of other places to get ramen in the Boston area but none of them are as good as Ken's was. Maybe it's kind of a first love thing. Another ramen shop opened this past year in Porter, and there are still hour plus long lines to eat there. I finally went the other week, and it was good, but I'm not sure I'd wait another hour in the cold for it again. Because now I can make my own ramen!
I found this recipe for making ramen noodles a couple of years ago but never went through the trouble of finding the kansui because I figured it'd be too hard to find. A Japanese grocery story opened up in Porter this year so I decided to stop in one day and see if they had it. They did, but only in this huge bottle. I guess I'll be making a lot of homemade ramen.
The kansui is a solution of potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate that reacts with the flour to make it yellow in color and also toughens the protein so that the noodles are springier than regular wheat noodles. I noticed that my dough started turning more greyish green after a while, and found on another website that it was because the dough was too alkaline. Adding a little bit of citric acid would neutralize the pH and should return it back to yellow (or you could just use a little less kansui). Of course, I didn't read this until it was too late and just used the grey noodles as is. They seemed to look more yellow than green after cooking, and they tasted great, so I wouldn't worry to much if this happens to your noodles too.
The first time I made this, I didn't have a pasta machine, so I just rolled it out and cut it by hand. So it's possible. But it's more fun using a pasta machine, and you'll get these amazingly thin and evenly cut noodles.
Homemade Ramen Noodles (from No Recipes)
makes enough for 4 bowls
300 grams bread flour (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon Koon Chun Potassium Carbonate & Sodium Bi-Carbonate (kansui)
Put the flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix the
water and kansui together, then add the mixture to the flour. The flour
should immediately start turning yellow.
Give the mixture a quick stir with the dough hook to combine
everything then attach the bowl to your mixer and run on medium high
speed for 10 minutes. It’s a dry dough so it will look like a bunch of
gravel at this point. Use your hands to divide it in two and press
together into two balls.
Flatten each ball out on a flat surface, and run it through the largest setting
of your pasta roller a few times, folding it in half each time. The
dough will be ragged the first few runs though but will smooth out. When
it starts rolling out smoother, fold it up into a square and wrap with
plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to cook it, prepare a large pot of boiling salted water.
Each ball will make enough for 2 bowls of ramen, so figure out how much
you need. Flour the dough generously and roll it out to the 3 setting on
your pasta roller. Cut the dough in half so you have two sheets of
dough a little over 1 foot long and flour generously again.
Use the spaghetti attachment to cut the pasta into long thin noodles,
dusting them with flour as they are cut to keep them from sticking
together. (I actually found that the noodles were not very sticky and didn't need to dust them at all.)
Boil the noodles until they are slightly firmer than the final consistency
you want, since they will continue cooking after you remove them from
If you're not ready to boil all the noodles yet, you can save them in an air-tight container (I used a plastic baggie) for a day or two in the fridge.
I still haven't figured out how to make the noodles curly, though. Any suggestions? In the next post we'll discuss ramen broths!
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