On Season 1 of Mind of a Chef, Dave Chang visits Japan to explore the rich culinary culture of the country. It may have been in an episode, maybe several, where they focus on ramen, and not unlike everything else the Japanese do, each bowl of ramen Chang and his friend had was meticulously assembled. Each element of the dish had been engineered to perfection before coming together like an orchestra to form a bowl of noodles. I guess I'm just inspired by how much care they put into everything they do; no matter how humble the product is, it's always treated with respect. I could easily go out to buy a bowl of ramen, but part of the joy of eating and cooking for me is being able to see the transformation of basic ingredients and then be rewarded with something tasty at the end. Ramen noodles have always seemed so mythical to me until I actually looked up how to make them. It's literally three ingredients and some elbow grease. You can get sucked into different flours and exact quantities etc, but I'm not that kind of cook.
I followed this recipe, but it was a little dry. I had to wet my hands and then pat them on the last two sheets.
- 200g bread flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tsp lye water
Weigh out or measure flour. In a separate bowl measure out your water and lye water and mix.
Mix together. Your white flour will immediately turn yellow! It's like high school chemistry!
Knead... knead... and knead some more. It will look like it won't hold together but keep persevering. I'm not kidding when I say I broke a sweat. I wasn't intending to since I had been to the gym beforehand.
Once you the dough has come together, you can break out the pasta machine. Divide into four. Again, it'll look like it won't work. This is what mine looked like after the first pass:
But then... about ten passes later....
Then at pass fifteen... (I wasn't counting)
After that you'll be ready to cut! I just used the spaghetti cutter attachment.
Boil and assemble your noodles!
I'm not gonna lie – it was pretty good! I made a vegan broth beforehand. It was simply a carrot, an onion, three tomatoes, chopped, and a sheet of kombu sautéed all together before adding a tablespoon of miso paste with water (I'm guessing around 750mL?), as well as a sprinkling of kelp and mushroom stock powder and allowing to boil. Before cooking the noodles I fried off some enoki mushrooms, some corn, boiled an egg and steamed some snow peas. Obviously I had to sprinkle shichi-mi togarashi on top. It's not ramen if there's no shichi-mi.