There’s a ramen place that, years ago, was just one neighborhood over from us in Seattle. Aloha Ramen was a tiny hole-in-the wall with about a 10 cramped tables and amazing noodles and broth. As a non-meat eater, my search for a delicious vegetarian broth is almost always disappointing, but Aloha’s broth is richly flavored and the noodles are toothy and enthusiastically springy, as though they just can’t wait to be eaten.
Eventually the restaurant moved about 20 minutes away from us. Happily for them (and sad for us) they’ve become super popular, which means after a longer-than-idea drive, there are also often long waits. In these dark and wet days that define Seattle in the wintertime, these issues are prohibitive. This situation clearly necessitated the re-creation the experience of delicious, warming, comforting ramen without leaving my delicious, warming, comforting home.
Many months back, Pinch of Yum posted a fantastic Ramen Soup recipe, and I can attest to the veggie broth being absolutely delicious (and I’ve made a very few alterations that makes it even easier). So! Broth problem solved. And dried noodles? Pretty good – but homemade noodles? I think we can all agree that no matter the noodle varietal, they’re always better.
Plus – and this is true! – once you’ve got all the ingredients, it comes together in a snap, especially after you’ve made them once or twice and the small amount of prep is done. These noodles are the springy, slightly chewy, and enthusiastic noodles we’ve been looking for. And truth: we haven’t been to Aloha for over a year.
So it turns out the magic ingredient in ramen noodles is an ingredient called kansui, which is an alkaline solution. You can apparently buy it, or make it easily by baking baking soda. I’ve read that it can be added to cooking water, or mixed directly in to the dough. I opted to stir it in to the dough, and it worked perfectly.
All purpose flour can be used, though I chose to use finely ground 00 flour, which was a bit difficult to find. I couldn’t find it at Whole Foods, but was successful at a local gourmet grocery, where I discovered it not with the rest of the flours, but instead in the Italian food section.
Also: this dough is tough, and not at all sticky. It’s supposed to be both of those things!
And a few notes about the broth, and the soup in general:
When making the broth, I skip the dried 0r fresh mushroom part that’s outlined in Pinch of Yum recipe. I haven’t found that it adds significant flavor. Instead, I sauté mushrooms separately and serve them in the soup
For the miso paste: I only use 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Also for the miso paste: I freeze it in 3/4 cup serving sizes, to use in the future. It’s the perfect amount to have for broth making + sautéing the tofu
I use tofu that’s been vacuum sealed, I don’t find it needs to have the water removed. Trader Joe’s is my favorite.
The best ramen (in my opinion) is veggie heavy, and always includes something green. Yu Choy is awesome when you can find it, sautéed bok choy works great too.
Here’s the dough, right before it gets molded in to a ball:
Ready for a rest:
Next, now that the dough has rested, it was cut in to smaller pieces, rolled through the flattening blade and dusted with cornstarch. Here it is being passed through the cutting blade:
In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the water, then stir in the kansui and salt until dissolved.
Pour the flour in to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn the machine on low and slowly pour in about 3/4 cup of the water mixture. When incorporated, stop the machine and squeeze the dough to incorporate any clumps of flour. Turn the machine on again, and continue mixing in the water, 1-2 teaspoons at a time, until the dough forms small clumps that, when squeezed, mold in to a smooth mass (note: the amount of water you’ll add will vary; I made this once and had to add a total of 1.5 cups of water – it’s just dependent)
Knead with the dough hook for 4 minutes – the dough may be scrappy and will be tough. Finish kneading by hand for 1-2 minutes until it forms a smooth ball (this is a lovely upper body workout). Wrap in plastic, and let rest on the countertop for at least 45 minutes.
Slice off a chunk of the dough, and using a pasta machine, pass the dough through the rollers, starting with setting 1, working your way up to setting 5. Lightly dust the dough with potato starch to prevent sticking, then pass through the thin cutters.
Boil immediately for three minutes. When the noodles are done, if they are not immediately put in broth, they tend to stick together in the colander. They’ll separate again when they’re put in hot broth. Alternatively, they can be are rinsed well while they’re in the colander, which will keep them from clumping.
To make kansui in a dry form, thinly spread 1/4 cup baking soda on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 250˚F. Let cool and store in a tightly-sealed glass jar.
Strudel and Streusel are two friends living in different cities, sharing a love of baking (and butter) through this blog. With Streusel in Denver, and Strudel in Seattle, we've found our little site to be a great way to stay in touch, share recipes we love, and talk about experiences in our respective cities.