So, by now I think you’re discovering that making ramen from scratch is a pretty intensive process. If you're following my steps to making it a bit easier, you've tackled Step 1 - making the miso ramen base for the soup.
Remember, miso ramen is just 1 of the 4 main soup bases for ramen. There are still 3 other soup bases to learn about (shio, shoyu and tonkotsu) but at least you're on your way to making a good bowl of the miso variety. The others, we'll move onto after I show you how to complete your first bowl. Being a mom of 3 kids doesn’t lend itself to making fresh noodles every time I make ramen, so I reserve this for when I need to keep my pasta machine from rusting and get my kiddos in the kitchen to help. Otherwise, I'll use a ramen substitute like getting freshly made ramen at a local asian market or venturing to Japan Town in San Francisco to buy them fresh from one of the many markets there. You could even use a package of dry instant ramen noodles and throw the seasoning packet out but as with anything, fresh is better.
My advice for Step 2 - making homemade ramen noodles is to take a weekend day to get these done ahead of time and then freeze them in individual portions (for up to a month). Then when you are ready to use them, it won’t feel like you’ve slaved away in a kitchen all day. Plus you should have already made your miso base so you're almost there!
You do need a pasta machine and it’s super helpful to have an electric mixer with a dough hook, unless you want to develop Popeye forearms. Pasta machines all have a similar notched number system for the width of noodle so you will be fine using the widths I recommend in this recipe.
If you do decide to venture down the homemade noodle path, then know this. A perfect noodle has a yellowy hue, is cooked on the al dente side and has a chewy, elastic yet firm texture that will hold up to the soup without turning limp or soggy.
Homemade Ramen Noodles
Serves: 8 portions
Prep time: 3 hours
3 1/2 cups bread flour
½ cup cake flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 teaspoons ‘baked baking soda’, recipe included below or kansui powder
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
· if you are hand kneeding, change water to 1 1/2 cups
First you need to make some ‘baked baking soda’. This replaces a Japanese ingredient known as ‘kansui’ that gives ramen noodles their signature yellowy hue and firmness but is often difficult to find. Harold McGee, the king of kitchen science, discovered that by baking baking soda, you could get the same affect as the kansui. Spread about 1/4 cup of baking soda on a foil-lined baking sheet and place it in the oven at 275 degrees for 1 hour. You can save the remainder in a ziplock bag as this recipe only calls for 2 teaspoons. Just fold up your tinfoil to make it easier to put in a storage bag.
1. In a small bowl, combine the baked baking soda or kansui powder and water until it dissolves.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the bread, cake and wheat flours, kansui water and salt. Mix for 10 minutes on the lowest speed until the dough forms little pellets. If you need to, add up to 5 additional teaspoons of water. The dough is ready when it feels dry but will come together when squeezed with your hand.
3. Pour the dough out onto a floured board and kneed into a ball for at least 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can put your dough in a plastic zip lock bag and form it into a ball so that it is easier to bring together and knead.
4. When you are ready to make your pasta, set up your pasta machine so that it is stable and won’t slip from your work surface.
5. Cut your dough ball into 8 equal pieces (in half, then in quarters) and use one piece at a time, keeping the rest wrapped tightly with plastic wrap or sealed in your zip lock bag.
6. Roll out one piece until it resembles a flat, long shape. Sprinkle with some cornstarch so it doesn’t stick to the pasta maker.
7. Pass it through your pasta machine on the largest setting – it will be a bit rough on the edges but don’t worry about how it looks. Fold it over on itself and pass it again.
8. Reduce the width to 2 and pass through. Fold it over on itself and pass it again.
9. Reduce the width to 4 and pass through once. You’ll have one long strip that you can then cut in half.
10. Reduce the width to 6 and pass through one of the halves twice. Repeat with the other half.
11. Now you are ready to run it them through the noodle cutter attachment.
12. The two strips will yield enough noodles for 1 bowl of ramen. Sprinkle each batch of noodles with additional cornstarch, lifting up the noodles to separate and lightly coat them, then pack them individually in plastic wrap. Let sit for at least a day before using. If planning to use later, put them in individual zip lock bags and store in the freezer for up to one month.
13. Cook fresh pasta in a pot of boiling water. Depending on the number of portions, cook for 1-2 minutes. Shake out all excess water and lay a portion in your bowl of hot soup by folding them over onto each other so they do not look messy. Then add toppings.