Once upon a time, I met a woman that I thought would be perfect for my husband. When she told me about how she'd grown up in a hippy household I laughed and said that my husband had the same upbringing. When she mentioned that she brings rice cakes topped with avocado and tofu for lunch every day I laughed to myself because that's a classic Elliott family lunch. But when she said that she loved sports and the outdoors and spent every moment skiing, surfing or kite boarding I sort of grimaced because it was then I realised that she was the perfect woman for Mr NQN.
And the evil, paranoid part of me said to myself "You two must never meet...". In a booming, deep ominous voice of course.
It's true, I'm none of those things and on paper, Mr NQN and I have nothing in common. But once I got to know him and saw under his half Finnish half Australian exterior, I realised beats the heart of a Northern Chinese person. One of his favourite foods is dumplings, noodles and pasta.
It's never hard to convince him to go out for ramen. He knows that for a relatively modest spend, he will come away full to the gills with one of his favourite foods. But I decided that I wanted to make an attempt to make my own ramen noodles. After all they're just flour, water and salt, sometimes with eggs.
I delved into the world of ramen making where an ingredient called Kansui or lye water is used to colour the flour and water mix yellow and give ramen the distinctive chewy texture. Except that kansui or lye water is a little hard to find here although not impossible. It's an alkaline mineral water originally named after the mineral rich waters of Inner Mongolia's Lake Kan which is what they used when making ramen. Kansui or lye water is made up of sodium and potassium carbonate and phosphate. And it makes for fantastic ramen.
But all is not lost if you don't want to bother with lye water. You can use eggs and bicarbonate of soda in its place. Other than that, ramen making is a very simple process particularly if you have a pasta maker. It's not unsurmountable if you don't but you will need plenty of patience for cutting. And now with the colder weather coming through it is the perfect time to get ramen making.
The resulting noodles are absolutely wonderful. You know exactly what goes into them and they have a wonderfully springy chew to them and a texture that cannot be achieved with instant ramen. A batch made with lye water costs less than 50c for four serves so it's quite feasible to make it for less than you would pay for instant ramen. I served these in soup as well as stir fried and they retained their springy texture perfectly cooked both ways.
So tell me Dear Reader, what are you favourite types of noodle? Do you tend to eat home made or buy dried or fresh? Did you ever go through an instant ramen phase as a student?
Made From Scratch: Ramen
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Resting time: from 2-5 hours depending on temperature
Cooking time: 5 minutes
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water approximately
- 1 teaspoon lye water
- 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten well
- 5-6 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon bi carb of soda
Step 1 - In a mixer fitted with a dough attachment, place the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add either the water and lye or the eggs and 4 tablespoons of water. Knead on the lowest speed to combine. Add water if necessary to form a dough and knead until smooth and elastic (about 4-5 minutes). The lye will turn the dough yellow while if you're using eggs, the yolks will. Wrap in cling wrap and if it is a hot day, allow to rest for 2-3 hours or if a cold day, 4-5 hours. You can also store it in the fridge overnight.
Step 2 - Take your pasta machine and lightly flour the machine and surface. Pass the dough through through the widest 0 setting or you can also roll it out with a rolling pin. Keep rolling until you get to the number 3 setting.
Step 3 - Have a tray sprinkled with flour ready. Attach the spaghetti attachment to your pasta maker and flour this lightly. Pass through the dough and gather the strands and place on the flour lined tray. When completed put a large pot of water to boil and take a small handful of the noodles and simmer-it only takes about a minute to cook them. Rinse in a colander under cold running water.