Why It Works
- Using bread flour, which has a high protein content, gives you a noodle with a good amount of chew.
- Supplementing the protein content of bread flour with vital wheat gluten produces an even chewier noodle.
- Using baked baking soda (sodium carbonate) in the dough gives the noodles their characteristic elasticity, springiness, and glossiness, as well as their flavor.
- Running the dough sheets repeatedly through the pasta rollers both develops a strong gluten network and aligns it horizontally along the sheet, giving the noodles their "bite."
You can't have a bowl of ramen without wheat-based alkaline noodles, and while it's possible to purchase high-quality noodles from noodle manufacturers like Sun Noodle, you can also make excellent noodles at home, so long as you have a few key but common ingredients: high-protein bread flour, vital wheat gluten, and baked baking soda.
These noodles are meant for use in shoyu ramen and miso tori paitan, and are best paired with relatively light-bodied broths, though they can feasibly be used with most any ramen recipe. This recipe makes four portions of noodles, and is based on the following formula for a single portion of noodles (the recipe can be scaled up or down as desired using this formula):
- 99g King Arthur bread flour
- 1g vital wheat gluten
- 1g kosher salt
- 1.5g baked baking soda
- 40g water
We received a bunch of advice from three noodle experts during the development of this recipe: Kenshiro Uki, vice president of operations for Sun Noodle; Keizo Shimamoto, owner of Ramen Shack and Shimamoto Noodle; and, especially, Mike Satinover.
- 6g baked baking soda
- 4g Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt or other kinds of salt, use the same weight
- 160mL water
- 396g King Arthur bread flour (see note)
- 4g vital wheat gluten (see note)
To Make Noodles: Add baked baking soda to water and stir to dissolve completely, about 1 minute. Add salt, and stir until dissolved completely.
Combine vital wheat gluten and bread flour in the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade, or in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Process until thoroughly mixed, about 30 seconds in a food processor or 1 minute on low speed in a stand mixer.
Increase speed to medium-low and, with machine running, add 1/3 of liquid at a time, allowing time between each addition for liquid to be fully absorbed, about 30 seconds. After final addition, allow machine to run until flour and water mixture looks pebbly, about 1 minute. If using food processor, stop machine and let rest for 30 minutes. If using stand mixer, stop machine, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes. (This pause is to allow the flour to more fully absorb the liquid.)
Press dough into a ball and divide into two roughly equal portions. Place both in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent them drying out.
Working with one portion at a time, flatten balls to a thickness of about 1/5 inch (the dough will be very stiff, so do the best you can, as it will make it easier to run through the pasta rollers). Run flattened disk through widest setting of pasta roller, followed by the second widest setting, followed by the third widest setting, followed by the fourth widest setting. Fold dough sheet in half, so it is half of its original length, then repeat entire process two times (it will become significantly harder to run the doubled up dough through the rollers in each iteration). If done correctly, longitudinal lines will form on the sheet of dough. Wrap dough sheet in plastic wrap or place, folded, in zip top bag, and repeat process with the remaining portion. Let dough sheet rests for at least 30 minutes before proceeding.
Working with one dough sheet at a time, run dough through progressively narrower settings on your pasta machine, until it reaches the thickness you desire (~1-1.5 mm). Run final dough sheet through the spaghetti cutting attachment; dust noodles with flour or corn starch to prevent sticking, shake off excess starch or flour, and fold into loose nests. Alternatively, dust dough sheet with flour, fold it, dust again with flour, and fold again, to form a stack of dough. Using a sharp knife, cut through dough at regular intervals to produce noodles. Once finished cutting, shake noodles to loosen, and fold into loose nests.
Place noodles in zip-top bag and refrigerate overnight. (Noodles can be used immediately, but they improve significantly in texture and flavor if allowed to age slightly.)
Before Cooking Noodles (optional): Gather noodles into a ball and compress with your palms on a clean, dry surface, using a similar amount of pressure you would use to compress a snowball. Loosen noodles and repeat process, gathering them into a ball and compressing with your palms. (This brief compression gives the noodles their signature curls.)
To Cook Noodles: Bring large pot of unsalted water to rolling boil over high heat. If using noodle baskets, add noodles to baskets and plunge in water, rapidly stirring noodles with tongs or chopsticks in basket to prevent sticking. If not using noodle baskets, add noodles to boiling water and stir vigorously with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes if using hand-cut noodles; cook for about 1 minute and 30 seconds if using noodles cut on spaghetti cutter. (The exact cooking time will depend on your preferences and on the thickness of the noodles.) Drain thoroughly, shaking off as much excess water as possible, and add to hot ramen broth.
King Arthur bread flour has one of the highest protein percentages of the many bread flours on the market, and for that reason is specified here. In order to determine the exact amount of time the noodles need to boil, you will have to test them. Cut a single noodle into 5 or 6 pieces, place them in boiling water, and remove them at 10 second intervals, starting at 1 minute and 30 seconds. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to confirm the correct boiling time, according to your preferences. When you have determined the exact time, subtract 10 seconds, to account for the noodles sitting in the hot bowl of broth.
Vital wheat gluten is a protein supplement that is used to give breads and noodles more "chew." It is available at most supermarkets, health food stores, and chains like Whole Foods.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Noodles are best made 24 hours in advance to use. They can be made up to three days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Noodles that have rested in the refrigerator overnight can be frozen and kept for up to three months.