Sunday, December 18, 2016

Make your own ramen noodle

Disclaimer : None of the following is true. I think. Take whatever I say with a bucket of salt.

I don’t believe much in palm tracing, crystal ball gazing or tea-leaf reading, but I cannot say that I don’t totally believe in fortune-telling. For instance, I proudly say there is no such thing as ghosts, but then again, I would pee in my pants if I were forced to walk by a cemetery at midnight alone. What if I see something remotely similar to those crazy pale, longhaired ghosts in white dresses from Asian horror films?

Homemade ramen noodle

In a way, I treat fortune-telling similarly. I rarely pay fortune-tellers to reveal my future. But, if hobbyist friends, who happen to how to tea-read, and want to predict when I will win a big lottery, I am chugging that cup of tea and giving them the tea grinds in a heart beat. In fact, when I was in Turkey last summer, a friend of mine actually read my tea, and told me that 2016 will be a year of meeting new people.

I mean…right. Me meeting new people? Yea, may be a few new ones once a year. But, the universe planning a whole year of Soe dedicated to meeting new people? I would rather believe in alien abduction, followed by subsequent anal probing (I genuinely always wonder why aliens are drawn to the south end. Weird. Huh?).  But, the thing is I did meet a whole hoard of food lovers in 2016. I thank the power of Internet, and SAVUER for accidentally giving me the nomination of the 2016 Food Blog Award for Best New Voice.

Below are my New Year resolution, inspired by some of the people I have met this year.

1) I want to be as strong, filter-less and funny as Mandy Lee from Lady and Pups. I also want to be able to pull off that mid-90s newsboy hat, like her.

2) I want to be able to cook non-stop like Ingrid from Piquecooking, as if there is a tiger chasing after me. Currently, I am now finding even frying an egg tiring. I blame it on my body adjusting to Trump’s presidency.

3) I want to be as nice as Ryan and Adam from Hushandsthatcook. Sometimes, don’t you want to just deliberately try to push all the buttons just to see how a person behaves when he/she is mad? Part of me says try this on Ryan and Adam, but another part of says be nice so I can get as many comments, likes and followers on my IG as them.

4) I want to know 1) where Nate from TerminatetorKitchen goes foraging for his fall leaves for his photo, and 2) where the hell he stores all the stuffs he hoard. Share some tips from a fellow hoarder to another hoarder.

5) I want my blog to be a perfect half-way between didactic Maurizio from The Perfect Loaf and touchy-feely Lyndsey Eden. My personality does not fit to provide a recipe as detailed as a military training, and I can never write about cats or incense like Lyndsey, because I will sneeze like hell if I am within 5 meters of either one.

6) More exercising like Joanne from The Korean Vegan. Not to the point of running a marathon (that, I am saving to deal with my mid life-crisis in 20 years). But, more like doing elliptical at resistance 5 for 24 minutes three times a week (24 minutes because that’s how long an episode of The Modern Family usually lasts).

7) I want to be as passionate as Teri from Nocrumbsleft. Seriously though, the food she cooks is the type of food I actually want to eat – home-cooked, unpretentious and doused in lots of oil. I also like listening Teri’s instastory in the morning – her voice is so projectile that it actually wakes me up real good.

8) I want to gain enough patience to bake cute shit and pull off vibrantly purple hair like Steph from Iamafoodblog. Unforunately, my current buzzed cut is an obstacle to having any trendy hairstyle.

9) I want to cut off using IG for a while, like Marv form Whattocooktoday. The desire to do such thing is not an act of rebellion against technology, but mostly for the practical reason of not having enough time next year when I start my third year medical school. So, how about the fate of Lime and Cilantro as a blog? It’s hard to tell, but I can tell you the fate is not promising. Well, that’s another story. Let’s move on.

10) What the hell do I need to do to be able to travel around the world and host photography workshops like Betty Liu?  A lamb sacrifice? Virgin tears? Just tell me. I might actually do it.

11) I want my cooking skills to be as versatile as Vy from Beyond Sweet and Savory. I want to make pretty tarts, evenly shaped tortellinis, and sticky ruby-glazed wings. But, I will pass on putting faces my marshmallows – that’s just both tacky and creepy for my taste.

About the recipe

This ramen recipe is adapted from this Lucky Peach article. When I think about ramen noodle, pig-tail curly, and sprightly yellow noodle strands with a textural bite comes to mind. What gives that characteristic chewy bite is the pH of the noodle dough. Under alkaline condition (pH between 9 to 11), the flour absorbs water more easily, and when more water combines with protein in the flour, we get more gluten development.

Make ramen noodle at home

There are so many theories on how gluten actually develops, and what influences gluten development. And, they are admittedly quite confusing. But, what I find useful to know is that there are two parts to gluten development – elasticity and extensibility. As their names suggest, elasticity is the ability of your dough to spring back to its original form, while extensibility is its ability to extend lengthwise. So, by logic, if we are making noodles, we want to have as little elasticity (springing back) as possible, while maximizing extensibility. 

Make ramen noodle at home

The thing about gluten mashed network is that when it is allowed to rest, its elasticity reduces dramatically while extensibility stills the same. That basically means that if we let our noodle dough rests, we will be able to stretch it out fairly easily, without having to worry about its snapping back like an annoying rubber band. There are many things that can affect gluten development, such as salt, temperature, hydration and organic compounds. That’s for another post. What is also cool about alkaline pH is that it also gives yellow color to your dough, by releasing color from normally colorless riboflavins present in the flour.
So, there are several ways to bring up the pH in the dough. For instance,

Sodium bicarbonate - baking soda     pH of 8.4
Sodium carbonate - soda ash              pH of 11.6
Kansui - Chinese lye water                 pH of 10.0 to 12.0

Kansui is the traditional choice for making ramen. It used to be fairly difficult to find, but today, you can easily find it in many Asian supermarkets. Sodium bicarbonate is just not strong enough to bring up the noodle dough pH to 9. Soda ash (sodium carbonate) is a great choice, especially when we can easily make at home from heating the baking soda at 250 °F for an hour. It is sufficiently alkaline enough to be used in ramen.

Make ramen noodle at home

Make ramen noodle at home

For choosing flour for basic noodle recipes, it is practically helpful to pay attention to the gluten percentage. When you start studying more about noodles, you will also find that the type of flour also plays a significant role, but let’s not worry about this here. What do I mean by gluten (protein) percentage? Below is a short list of several types of flour commonly found in supermarkets.

Cake flour – 8% protein
Pastry flour – 9 % protein
All-purpose flour – 10.5% protein
Bread flour – 11.7 % protein
High-gluten flour – 14.2 % protein
Whole wheat flour – 14% protein

As you can see, cake flour has very low protein content, because you really don’t want your cakes to have too much gluten development, ultimately giving a tough cake. However, for noodle or bread, you want that elasticity, so higher-gluten flour is your friend in this case. These are the basics for gluten development. Let’s get cooking now.

Make ramen noodle at home

Make ramen noodle at home

Make ramen noodle at home

Make ramen noodle at home

Make ramen noodle at home

Soda ash

Soe Thein
Published 12/18/2016
Soda ash to be used in ramen noodle


1 cup of baking soda


Spread the baking soda on a baking sheet, and bake at 250 °F for an hour.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 0 hrs. 00 mins.
Cook time: 1 hrs. 00 mins.
Total time: 1 hrs. 0 mins.
Tags: soda, ramen, baking soda, soda ash, noodle

Homemade ramen noodle

Soe Thein
Published 12/18/2016
Homemade ramen noodle
These homemade chewy ramen noodles will give you a satisfying meal in no time.


200g of bread flour
2 tsps. of soda ash
50 g of recently boiled water
50 g of cold water
1/8 tsp of turmeric


Sieve 2 tsps of soda ash. While stirring your recently boiled water, slowly add in the sieved soda ash. Try to dissolve as much as possible. Don’t worry too much if some of it clumps together. Then, add in cold water and stir. Some clumps can still remain.

Optional step: If you are making a red color ramen, stir in 1/8 tsp of turmeric powder. The alkaline pH will turn the gorgeous golden hue of turmeric to deep dark red.

Pour your measured bread flour into the kitchen aid mixer bowl. While stirring slowly with a C-hook attachment, slowly add in your water mixture. Knead for about 8 minutes (12 minutes by hand). This recipe is extremely dry, so don’t expect your dough to come together in a very nice cohesive ball. The dough will still be in multiple pieces.

After 8 minutes of kneading, wet your hand, and gather all the pieces in the mixing bowl, and try to form one cohesive dough. The extra moisture from the wet hands should be more than sufficient get all the dough pieces adhere.

Let the dough rest, covered in a plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, for 20 minutes at the room temperature.

After resting, knead the dough for another 8 minutes (12 minutes by hand). The dough will still crumble into pieces. Don’t worry too much.

After kneading, simply wet your hands briefly and try to form the dough into a ball. Let the dough rest, covered in a plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, for at least an hour in the fridge.

Then, cut your dough into four equal pieces. I advise you work quickly here, because as soon as the dough is not covered, it is drying out, making not only harder to roll out but also hardening the texture of the final cooked product.

Roll out the dough first with a loose setting on a pasta machine to make the dough more pliable. Then, shape the dough into an oval disk, and feed into the pasta machine at a narrower setting. I used the setting 6 on my machine, which gives me about 1/16 inch thickness of the dough. Let the dough run through the machine 2-3 times, flouring in between until the whole sheet comes out smooth. Then, slowly feed the dough sheet into the pasta cutter. Be sure to flour as soon as the noodles come out so the strands don’t stick to each other.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 0 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 1 hrs. 20 mins.
Total time: 1 hrs. 40 mins.
Tags: noodle, ramen, dough, flour, vegan

*Now the sky is your only limit what to do with these noodles. Below are my two go-to recipes.*

Ramen in a simple mushroom broth

100 g of ramen noodle
1.5 cup of chicken stock
3 dried shitake mushrooms
1 tbsp. of soy sauce
½ tsp. fish sauce
2 tsps. of sesame oil
1 cup of water


Soak the dried mushrooms in chicken stock overnight. If you fail to do that, heat up the chicken stock, and soak in the piping hot liquid for about 20 minutes. The golden broth will turn into this dreamy dark broth. Then, bring the stock into a simmer. Add in soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and water. Taste and adjust accordingly.

Heat up a large pot of generously salted water into a rolling boil. Cook the ramen for about 1 minutes and 30 seconds (maximum 2 minutes). Try not to overcook the ramen, otherwise you will lose that chewy bite that you worked so hard for. Remember, these noodles have baking soda in them, so the water can get very foamy and boil over, creating a mess. The trick is to use a large pot or hover over the pot with a cup of cold water, and whenever the foamy water tends to boil over, I just drop in a couple of drops of cold water to tame down the craziness.

Rinse the noodle under warm weather thoroughly to get rid of baking soda taste. Transfer the strands into a serving bowl, ladle over the broth, and finally garnish with an soft-boiled egg.

Ramen and chickpea in a spicy sauce

100 g of ramen
3 tbsps. of cooked chickpeas
½ tbsp. of garlic oil
1 tsp. of sesame oil
1 tsp. of fried chili 
1 tsp. of fish sauce (substitute with equal part of miso)
½ tbsp. of soy sauce
½ tbsp. of sweet soy sauce
Salt to taste


Mix thoroughly all the ingredients, except ramen, in a bowl.
Add in freshly cooked ramen. Mix thoroughly. 



  1. Omg Soe, I was looking at the same Ramen recipe this morning from Lucky Peach. I just baked the baking soda this morning !! the only obstacle I had was not having the pasta roller and cutter. I tried other recipe and went through HELL trying to roll out the dryish dough!! they are not flexible like regular dough ! I just threw the whole thing inside the trash! I definitely will attempt again when I have a proper equipment to make my life easier.

    You just cracked me up with your new year's resolutions and I'm flattered to be in one of them ;b I love IG community and that's how I get to know so many cool and talented people like you. I can't say if I will be able to cut out IG completely. I'm missing it too to be honest but at the same time it's nice not to be on the phone so much :) It's not an act of rebellion like you said. It gives me more time to work on other priorities that I've abandoned all this time! Sorry for the long comment! in short....I will attempt the ramen again !!!

    1. Yes, the dough is very very dry and hard. If you don't have a pasta machine, it is nearly impossible. May be a pasta machine can be your Christmas present?It is a really nice toy for noodle lovers :P

      I can relate about being on the phone all the time. Haha, I actually left my phone at home on purpose these days. And of course, I look forward to seeing your ramen post in the near future.

  2. Hahaaa the boyish hats now just look "boy, period" on me now. Kickass noodles! I can eat this kind of noodles forever.

  3. Ah, this post is so funny and delicious - I've always wanted to try making ramen from scratch, and you've inspired me to give it a go in 2017! Thank you for including me in your "roast" - I laughed so hard when I read it. 2016 indeed seemed like the year to meet people for you Soe. I'm really glad we finally got to meet at Saveur too. It's always nice to chat with someone who's also in med school but also has a toe in the food world :). Happy holidays!

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