One of my happiest childhood memories is eating the horrifying cup-noodles that came in the little Styrofoam cups, with a pack of sodium filled seasoning and a few sad freeze dried veggies on the top. I loved pouring the boiling water into the cup and could never wait the full three minutes to allow the noodles to cook completely. In college, ramen saw me through a lot of late-night cram sessions and at only a few cents a serving, it filled up my hungry stomach.
The resurgence of ramen bowls in blogs, magazines, and restaurants made me recall those noodles, and the recipes for gluten free noodles I came across on the internet just didn’t cut it, nor did the suggestion to use other types of dried rice noodles. I wanted real ramen.
I created this dough to mimic ramen – the first secret is in creating a substitute for kansui (the alkaline ingredient that makes ramen taste like ramen). The second secret is to steam the noodles lightly to bring out the chewy texture and golden yellow color of the noodles.
The noodles can then be finished one of two ways: The first will give you ‘fresh ramen’, appropriate for eating right away, and the second one will give you ‘top ramen’ style noodles appropriate anywhere dried noodles are called for or for making your own noodle bowls.
This recipe assumes you have either a food processor or an electric mixer and a steamer or a pan and rack you can use to steam the noodles. I found hand cutting the noodles to be exceptionally tedious, so a pasta maker with an ‘angel hair’ setting is also a beneficial thing to have if you want to make this.
This recipe yields 4 x 4oz servings about 5x3oz servings
2 tbsp baking soda
1 c hot water, plus more as needed
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 c (13-14oz or 490g) Better Batter Gluten Free Flour
Begin by making kansui powder: in a heavy skillet or saucepan, heat the baking powder for 5-10 minutes over medium high heat. The carbon dioxide in the soda will begin to ‘gas off’ in a mist and create a more concentrated alkaline soda. You will continue to cook the powder, stirring gently, until all the gas is gone. allow this mixture to cool completely.
Measure out 1 tbsp of the concentrated soda (now, kansui powder) and stir it into 1 c hot water in a large bowl – it may ‘boil up’ so be careful! Stir until dissolved. Dissolve the salt into the water.
Put the dough hook in your food processor (you can also make this in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment). Place the Better Batter flour into the processor or bowl of the electric mixer and begin to stir. With the engine running, slowly pour in the kansui/water/salt mixture. Continue to mix until all the water is added and the dough is smooth and satiny. If you find the dough is still too dry, add additional water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the proper consistency is reached. Gather the dough into a ball – it should be slightly tacky to the touch.
Lightly flour a rolling surface and roll the surface of the dough ball until it is no longer tacky on the surface. Cut the ball into equal portions, weighing 3-4 oz each.
If rolling by hand:
Shape each portion into a rectangle and roll the rectangle out on a floured surface to 1/16 of an inch thick if rolling by hand – ideally you want a very long rectangle, as the longer the noodles are the better. Cut into noodles about 1/16 of an inch thick, using a pasta cutter, knife, or pizza wheel. Gather up the noodles into a compact bundle – leaving as much air space between the noodles as possible by winding them into a ‘wiggly’ bundle.
If using a pasta machine: flatten each portion out to a 1/4 inch thick rectangle and pass it several times through your roller of your pasta machine, as per machine instructions, flouring between rollings, and gradually reducing the machine to the 3rd (angel hair thickness) setting, about 1/16th inch thick). Attach the pasta cutter, set to the angel hair or spaghetti setting, and pass the pasta through the cutter. Gather up the noodles into a compact bundle – leaving as much air space between the noodles as possible by winding them into a ‘wiggly’ bundle, measuring about 3-4 inches in diameter and preferably no more than 1-2 inches thick.
Place the bundles of noodles on a steamer tray over boiling water, or on a rack in a pan over boiling water and steam for 5 minutes, covered, keeping the water boiling the whole time. Remove from the steam and process one of two ways:
The steamed noodles you prepared may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a month. To make: Gather and prepare ingredients as directed in the ramen recipe you are using. Bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the noodles for a minute or so, to heat them up and soften them. Add the noodles to the other ingredients in the bowl and serve immediately.
(Expensive Ramen Style): Take steamed noodles and dehydrate them at 194 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. These noodles can be stored about 12 months in an airtight container at this temperature.
(Top Ramen Style): Heat several inches of canola or palm oil to 285 degrees, over medium heat in a heavy pan with high sides. Take steamed noodles and fry them slowly, so that the light color and compact texture is preserved, about 1 minute per side, until the noodles are stiff and very light golden in color. If the heat is too high you will end up with puffed, porous noodles (like chow mein noodles), so watch the temperature of the oil very carefully! Drain well and check to ensure the mass is dry all the way through. These noodles may be stored for 3-6 months at room temperature – check to make sure they don’t go rancid depending on the style of oil and the temperature of the storage. For the most basic flavor, use 2 tsp bouillon to each bundle of noodles. Otherwise follow the instructions for making DIY cup noodles.