requires the kneading of the dough with a long and thick giant bamboo pole. He bounces on the end of the pole from left to right of the dough. After much layering and thinning, they are hand cut. However we’ve got it easier today. We are familiar with Yamato’s ramen making machine which can produce an electrifying 120 portions of good textured and chewy noodles per hour. However, we wanted to know if the noodle making process could be replicated by home chefs, hence we laid down the ULTIMATE challenge – to replicate restaurant standard at home. First, we will explore if the humble pasta roller is capable of making ramen noodles. Secondly we compare the taste results between the commercial machine and the pasta machine. Thirdly, we look for store bought flours to create the best ramen noodles possible.
The Perfect Ramen noodle
What makes ramen noodles distinct from it’s relatives are it’s ability for the flavourful broth to ‘cling on’ to the noodles whilst slurping, and be complimented with a firm texture yet pleasing chewiness. The Japanese have a tradition of slurping their noodles, which in fact has been scientifically PROVEN that slurping noodles makes a dish more delicious. When air is forced through the mouth into the nasal passage, the flavours spread, and are multiplied when slurping. This is also why connoisseurs create that slurping sound when doing wine and coffee tasting. The action of slurping noodles encourages the broth to cling on to the noodle walls. Through this coating of broth that gives each mouthful of ramen its rich mouthfeel and explosion of flavours. If ramen noodles were eaten differently, such as being placed onto a soup spoon filled with broth and swallowed, they would have to be made differently, not requiring the broth to coat the noodles.
So in fact, there isn’t a perfect noodle. It is about finding a noodle that matches the broth’s character. For example, Tonkutsu Ramen is made with a highly rich, gelatinous pork broth that is boiled for many hours at high heat, causing all the collagen to break down and turn it into a white thick broth. Because the broth is dense, a thin (about 1mm thick) & firm noodle, made with egg white, will be suitable. This noodle is known as Hakata noodle.
On the other hand, Shio & Shoyu Ramen, usually served with clearer / lighter broths, pairs well with a thicker noodle made with whole eggs, so as to be able to absorb more flavours from the broth. Today, we will be exploring Tokyo ramen noodle with a thickness of 1.4mm.
Tokyo Ramen Noodle with Yamato Machine
We first started making the noodle using our trusty Yamato Richmen I noodle making machine. The recipe for the noodle is a 11% protein content flour, whole egg powder, salt, kansui, with 32% water ratio.
We fed the dough crumbs into the rollers to form the dough sheet. The dough sheets are then combined to layer the gluten structures and finally thinned to the desired thickness, before being cut.
As predicted, the machine churns out noodle without much trouble.
Taste: Firm, springy and slurp-worthy
Tokyo Ramen Noodle with Hand Pasta roller
Next, we then start use a KitchenAid mixer to mix the ingredients. The dough was kneaded with a home mixer at LOW speed, to the effect of small crumbs, for 10 mins, similar to the mixing time used in the Yamato machine.
The crumbly dough was first fed into the stainless steel roller, where it combined into a homogenous flat sheet. It was then doubled up, and fed in to thin. The dough was thinned for a third time, before it was cut into size.
Once the dough crumbs are ready, we fed it into the pasta roller. We immediately encountered a problem. The crumbly dough would not bind into a single sheet when fed into the roller, regardless of the roller setting of 10 to 0. The best that came out of it was flat clumps of individual doughs. We believe this roller did not have adequate torque to compress the dough. Looking at the method pasta is made, dough is first made into a malleable single block, before being fed into the machine. The method to creating this kneadable consistency is to increase the moisture content of the dough. The result – a crumbly mess!
We will press on, to create a successful pasta-roller ramen, and discover how it matches up with the commercial machine. In our next blog post , we will use a higher water ratio recipe on both Yamato machine and the Hand Pasta roller to see the difference in noodle texture through a taste test. Stay tuned!