Chukasuimen and Kansui Water Recipe

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Photo by Marija Vidal

When you’re making ramen at home, you can use homemade, fresh store-bought, or even dried noodles. For those inclined to make everything from scratch. But remember that even ramen shops in Japan buy their noodles. It’s not cheating — homemade ramen with purchased noodles is still homemade ramen.

Matching the right noodles with the right soup is important. In general, thicker soups tend to go well with thicker noodles, and lighter soups with thin noodles. Regardless of the soup, ramen noodles are best served al dente.

One serving of fresh noodles is around 5 ounces. One serving of dried noodles is around 4 ounces. At ramen shops in Japan, many people spend a little more to get a bowl of omori noodles, usually an 8-ounce serving or more. Occasionally, shops will serve a whole pound of noodles — something you should attempt to eat at your own risk!

This is your basic ramen-noodle recipe. These are also sometimes called chukamen, or Chinese-style noodles. The higher gluten in bread flour will result in ramen with a chewier bite. These noodles should be cooked and eaten the day after you make them. By letting the noodles rest, the gluten has more time to bond, and your noodles will have a better bite. If you want the noodles to last longer, one trick used by noodle makers is to add a teaspoon of sake to the dough. This will help preserve the noodles.

Photo from Adobe Stock/Leonid

Makes 6 servings
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 to 2 minutes
Difficulty level: 4
Vegan and Kid-friendly meal

Ingredients: 

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup kansui water (see below)
  • 1 1/10 pounds (about 4 cups) bread flour
  • Cornstarch, for dusting

Steps: 

  1. Dissolve the salt in the kansui water.
  2. Put the flour in a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl, and add the salted water little by little, mixing with your fingers. Knead the flour in the bowl until it becomes yellowish. (This
  3. color change is due to the chemical reaction of the kansui and the flour.)
  4. Form the dough into a ball. Using your pasta machine’s thickest setting, run the dough through twice, dusting with cornstarch each time.
  5. Reduce the thickness a bit and run the dough through again. As the sheet of pasta gets longer, cut the sheet into strips about 1 foot long.
  6. Repeat at thinner and thinner settings. Go down to the second-thinnest setting.
  7. Attach the cutter and run the pasta sheet through to make noodles.
  8. Dust the noodles with cornstarch and portion into little bundles of about 5 ounces each. Leave in a cool, dry place for a day before cooking.

Photo from Adobe Stock/Oran Tantapakul

How to Make Kansui Water

To make kansui water, dissolve 1/3 cup of liquid kansui in 4 cups of water. So if a recipe calls for 3/4 cup kansui water, that means 3/4 cup of the solution you make by dissolving 1/3 cup of liquid kansui in 4 cups of water.

You can find liquid kansui on Amazon. Search for “lye water,” and then choose the product that is also called “Potassium Carbonate & Sodium Bi-Carbonate Solution” and has some Chinese characters on the label.

You can also make your own kansui water using baking soda. Baking soda has similar chemical qualities to kansui, although it needs a bit of preparation:

  1. Spread a layer of baking soda on a flat baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Let cool.
  2. In a large saucepan, dissolve 1/3 cup of this baked baking soda in 1 quart of water and bring to a boil.
  3. Let it cool, then top up the water to get back to 1 quart (to compensate for evaporation).

This solution can be used, undiluted, in place of regular kansui water.

Also from Ramen at Home:

More about Japanese cuisine on Fermentation!

Getting good ramen doesn’t have to mean going out. Ramen at Home makes it easy to create savory, sumptuous, and authentic ramen bowls right in your very own kitchen. Featuring tons of simple and tasty recipes, this book is a must have for anyone interested in the art of making ramen. From stocking ramen essentials to properly topping a piping hot bowl of noodles, Ramen at Home offers you detailed guides ? so new and experienced chefs alike can learn the secrets of preparing restaurant-quality ramen. Helpful sidebars show you how to pick the perfect ramen, while also providing interesting insights into Japanese culture and cuisine. Ramen at Home includes: THE COMPLETE BEGINNER’S GUIDE ? Learn absolutely everything you need to know to serve up your own delicious bowls of ramen at home; STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS ? Detailed instructions for each recipe make it easy for even novice noodle chefs to assemble perfect ramen ? every single time; and OVER 100 RECIPES ? Discover amazing recipes for broths, noodles, toppings, bowls, and sides that feature both authentic Japanese flavors and innovative new tastes.


Excerpt from Ramen at Home: The Easy Japanese Cookbook for Classic Ramen and Bold New Flavors by Brian MacDuckston, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2017 by Callisto Media. All rights reserved.

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