An American obsession, ramen is a Japanese soup made with Chinese noodles. Ramen noodles not only sustained a generation of latch-key children and college students with their ubiquitous dried mass-produced packets, but they also developed into a burgeoning restaurant subculture of scavenger-hunt ramen shop tours and enthusiastic slurping.
We’re investigating how to replicate that enthusiastic slurping at home with this recipe. We’ll discuss the vital ramen ingredients, including the broth, seasoning, noodles, and toppings, while maintaining some decency and ease in light of our obsession.
Water: How Much Is Enough?
Ramen differs from other noodles in part because of its relatively low water content, which is frequently expressed in bakers percentages (i e. , the quantity of any additional dough component is indicated as a proportion of the total mass of flour) Many varieties of ramen have hydration levels that are close to 35%, which means that 35g of water are added for every 100g of flour. Any seasoned baker will tell you that combination wouldn’t produce a dough per se, but rather something that looks like a bunch of crumbly, damp flour just by looking at that figure. (Bread doughs that are on the drier side have a hydration level of about 60%.) ).
For home cooks, this level of hydration creates a dough that is difficult to work with. I asked Shimamoto for a tour of his noodle-making facility, a request he graciously granted, and he also allowed me to look over his noodle recipes to gain some insight into noodle formulations and how manufacturers process ramen dough.
Ramen isn’t produced in the same way as, say, fresh pasta: There is no initial kneading step, and all the gluten development happens in the rolling process, where the dough is folded over and over itself. As a result, noodle manufacturers don’t have a problem producing a workable dough at lower hydration levels. The incredible pressure that the rollers on their ramen-specific machines can apply is what ramen manufacturers rely on to get those damp clumps of flour to stick together and eventually form sheets of dough.
A predetermined amount of flour is put in a hopper of a ramen machine. As spindles rotate and keep the flour in motion, a predetermined amount of kansui solution is added in a steady stream. The spindles are stopped and the mixture is allowed to rest for a while so that the flour can more fully absorb the liquid. After a while, the flour-kansui mixture develops a pebbly appearance. The mixture is then poured into a set of heavy rollers, which flatten it into a sheet of dough, and the hopper is raised to allow for this. The entire kneading procedure involves folding that sheet after which it is repeatedly passed through rollers. In order to give the gluten that has formed in the dough time to relax, the kneaded dough is rested for a brief period of time (at least 30 minutes). The dough is then rolled to its final thickness, cut, and packaged.
When I looked through Shimamoto’s noodle recipe book, the majority of the noodles had hydration levels below 40%, and those that did typically had more kansui added to the mixture. Satinover’s recipes follow this pattern. There are a number of reasons for this, including how kansui contributes to the flavor of the noodles, but Satinover told me that the main one is to maintain a sufficiently alkaline pH level in the dough to affect the flavor and texture of the noodles.
I made the decision to only experiment with doughs with 39% hydration or higher because in the past I have had extreme difficulties working with lower-hydration doughs—both in handling the dough and running it through my standard-issue pasta roller. Let’s just say that this recipe’s main distinction from the majority of the ramen noodles you’ll find there is that it uses slightly wetter, less dense, and slightly more elastic noodles.
What Are Ramen Noodles Made Of?
That brings us to the noodles themselves. Ramen noodles are technically Chinese wheat noodles. Only four ingredients are used to make them: wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui A type of mineral water known as kansui contains sodium carbonate, also known as “soda ash,” and potassium carbonate. Traditionally, Kansui is from Inner Mongolia, where the lakes are rich in minerals. This is the reason why ramen noodles have a firm texture and a yellow color.
Traditionally, chefs and homemakers made ramen noodles by hand. Making a wheat-flour dough that is then stretched or “pulled” into long bars is the process involved. You repeat the process until the noodles are extremely thin. Despite the fact that there are only a few steps, doing it correctly is difficult. Many chefs put in hours practicing to master hand-pulling noodles. Just check out this video.
Undoubtedly, there are numerous contemporary machines that can produce noodles. These range from manually operated devices that cut the noodles and eliminate the need for manual pulling to electrical, industrial devices that fully automate the procedure. Most modern restaurants require this equipment to keep up with the steady flow of customers because ramen noodles are best when they are fresh. Still, though, many renowned ramen chefs choose to hand-pull noodles.
These definitions aren’t exactly succinct because Japanese chefs constantly come up with new combinations and styles. That said, there are generally five different kinds of ramen:
This ramen is set apart by its strong soy-sauce flavor. The clear, rich brown broth is made from either chicken or vegetable stock. Menma bamboo shoots, green onions, nori seaweed, and eggs are typical toppings.
What are ramen noodles really made of?
A packaged variety of instant noodle known as ramen is made from wheat flour, a variety of vegetable oils, and flavorings. To reduce cooking time for consumers, the noodles are pre-cooked, which means they have been steamed and then air dried or fried.
What is Japanese ramen noodles made of?
Ramen is a type of thin, alkaline water-based noodle made from wheat flour, salt, water, and kansui. The dough is risen before being rolled. They were imported from China during the Meiji period.
How do you make ramen noodles?
- Warm water can be made into an alkaline solution by adding lye water or baked baking soda.
- Mix the flour with the alkaline solution, then form the dough into a ball.
- Rest dough 30 minutes.
- “Knead” 2-3 minutes with rolling pin.
- Roll dough flat with pasta machine.
- Cut dough into long strips of noodles.
Is ramen made with real meat?
What Are Ramen Noodles Made Of? Ramen noodles are made from wheat flour and oil, usually with a few additional ingredients for flavor, like salt, or additional fillers, like potato starch – and that’s it! All of these ingredients are 100% vegetarian, and even 100% vegan!