Homemade Ramen Noodles!

J. and I went in search of a mysterious elixir last weekend. We were looking for the secret ingredient to make perfect ramen noodles.
It was a U.S. holiday (Memorial Day), and perhaps it was also a Chinese holiday. The pan-Asian (mostly Chinese) store was packed. The children were all wearing neatly pressed special occasion clothes, pink dresses, bows in their hair, best shoes. There were long lines at the checkouts, workers bustled around, restocking and assisting customers. Everyone was speaking Chinese and pushing full carts from aisle to aisle.

There we were, in search of this odd ingredient, and though I had pictures from the internet, I couldn’t find it! We showed one harried employee my picturest, but he said “No, not here!” But I’d been in that store looking for agar agar, had been told that no, they did not have it—but when I asked another employee (perhaps with more English skills), I found that they carry 3 different varieties. So we kept looking, until we found an employee who was taking temporary shelter behind a counter. He pointed to a shelf not 15-feet from us: the alchemist’s solution to make real ramen noodles! And it cost only 99 cents!

Indeed, one can make ramen noodles at home
with this magic potion
Koon Chun potassium carbonate:

This product is (similar to) kansui water. The Chinese noodle makers may have originally used alkaline well water to make their unique springy toothsome noodles. I found many online references to it being used for making both ramen and lamian (the amazing hand stretched Chinese noodles).

The recipes I found online involved using powered potasium carbonate, and / or detailed descriptions with weights and ratios of various kinds of flours to make the truly mythical perfect noodles. I don’t bake very often, so I don’t buy multiple kinds of flours, nor do I have a kitchen scale, so those recipes were like a roof: above my head! You are welcome to check out my links to those recipes if you are seeking perfection; but I am perfectly happy to make some noodles that are better than any I’ve been able to buy in my area.

They may not be a perfect performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, but the music is so beautiful that even my own hummed version amazes me. And while my husband may not appreciate my humming, he did enjoy the noodles…

Ramen Noodles
6 servings

  • 3 cups King Arthur bread flour
  • ¼ cup wheat gluten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Koon-Chun kansui
    diluted in 1 cup water
  • 1 egg

Combine the flour, gluten, and salt in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Install the dough hook and add the egg, mix, then slowly add the water, mixing until you have a ball of dough. It is a very stiff dough. I tried to knead it, but couldn’t manage, so I wrapped it loosely in a plastic bag to rest for 30 to 40 minutes. After its little nap, I was able to knead the dough, but still could not get it to the soft smooth state of ready to roll pasta dough.

I divided the dough into quarters and rolled each section through the widest setting of the pasta machine, folded each in half and rolled them through again several times. Then I rolled the quarters through numbers 2 and 3, folding and re-rolling. By this time, the dough was quite smooth, though still very stiff. I dusted the noodles lightly with cake flour and rolled them through to the thinnest setting. The cutters did not separate all the strands completely so I had to pull some of them apart. I noticed that the noodles were very stretchy without breaking. Interesting.

We cooked and ate some of the ramen a little later. The rest I pushed into single serving nests and let them dry on waxed paper. That took about a day, and I turned the nests over whenever I thought about it so they’d dry evenly.

Here is more information about making noodles: http://1tess.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/tenobe-dango-jiru/

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37 thoughts on “Homemade Ramen Noodles!

  1. I have been looking for a homemade ramen noodle recipe as it is not possible to buy ramen easily in Switzerland. Thanks for the pictures of the potassium carbonate, it’s from my home town – Hong Kong. I am not sure if i can buy it here though. your ramen looks good, are you happy with the results : )

    • Hi Janet,

      Yes, I’m happy with the ramen I made. Better than the stuff I can buy around here! After reading those detailed recipes I linked to, it may be was beginner’s luck? Just use a very small amount of the chemical—I couldn’t believe that tiny amount could do anything but it surely did! Tasting a drop of it plain was yuck!

      Yes, Hong Kong. I think there is also a powdered form made by the same company (as well as all kinds of sauces). I think potassium carbonate is used for soap making, so perhaps that would be a place to look for it. Someone online suggested asking at a pharmacy, or if you know someone connected to a school chemistry program, even high school they may be able to get it for you. And of course online…

      • Chinese grocery stores should have it. I think it’s used in making some pastries as well. Maybe Vietnamese grocery stores would have it too. Around here, many of the Asian stores are owned by Koreans and I’ve never seen it in those stores.
        The bottle is not very big so it can be easy to miss—at least the ones I’ve seen are smaller than a bottle of soda.

  2. Tess… I am in complete awe! I’ve never heard of anyone making these from scratch!

    (we do have potassium carbonate in the lab… oh… temptations!)

    • Hi Sally,

      LOL. After you have have made all those fantastic breads, this should be a cinch for you!
      I’ll bet you have sodium bicarbonate as well: though mostly people talk about the potassium carbonate for making the noodles. check the links in my post: I don’t have a scale so I was going by luck and feel…
      Stuff tastes nasty, so you need only a tiny amount: I was so skeptical it would make any difference!
      Next time, I’ll use the Cuisinart: I like the way it makes Italian pasta more than the Kitchen Aide: makes the dough all crumbly so it is easier to knead. This is a very stiff dough though.
      If you try it, let me know!

  3. Good heavens, Tess, I hope you are well. LOL
    You are amazing, and your ramen noodles are beautiful!

  4. Oh Tess the ramen looks wonderful! Did you make a trip to the noodle museum without me?
    Still chuckling gently to myself – I thought that was going to be you humming the clarinet part in your clip!

    I found wheat gluten and strong flour…still hunting for the chemicals though…
    <3 Carolyn

    • Oh, wouldn’t that be a fun place to visit, that ramen museum?

      I’m not musical, so best not to hear me carrying a tune in a bucket. But beautiful things are able to shine through insufficient voices. music, images, stories, poems, philosophiesæ…

      Please let me know if you are not able to get the potassium carbonate. I could send you a bottle of the Koon Chun. Shoot me an email.

      Hmmm. Wonder if we could get rich by packaging the magic stuff sort of like dried yeast, then marketing it in Australia and the U.S.? Maybe even in Europe!

      ♡Tess

      • Ello! Sorry for the res of an old thread.
        I’ve been looking into making my own noodles for almost a year now…and after a year of hunting around every shop and chemist I can find that doesn’t give me dirty looks when I ask for chemicals over the counter (you can imagine ‘the’ look) I’ve given up and am ready to beg and plead from those of the internet lucky enough to be able to buy the necessary chemicals in their area!
        Sadly I live in the UK and cannot easily get my hands on useful chemicals like these…so if I beg and plead very nicely would you consider sending me a bottle or two (or three…) of the koon chun kansui/lye water entirely (of course) at my cost? I’d be eternally grateful and more than happy to share pictures of my exploration into the murky depths of home made (and hand-pulled) noodles with home made ramen.
        I realise hand pulled noodles is a tall order for a complete novice, but you’d be surprised what I can manage ^^. Anyways, thanks for your time!

        • Hi Colin,

          I would not mind sending you a bottle or several of koon chun. It is not very expensive, though I image shipping it to the UK might be!

          Have you tried finding it in a Chinese grocery? Or perhaps even a grocery for SE Asian foods?

          If you are interested in making hand stretched noodles you should take a look at this other post of mine, especially the youtube videos there:

          http://1tess.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/tenobe-dango-jiru/

          If you can’t get to a China-Town (or a Chinese grocery), you can use my contact form to communicate with me privately. (The link is the apple “logo” next to the cat in my footer.)

          Tess

  5. Oh my god, I had no idea making homemade ramen is that easy! I so want to do it! And I already have a bottle of the potassium carbonate in my pantry since it’s almost that time of the year where Chinese people make zongzi and kansui zong.

    I don’t have a bread maker though (T_T) so would doing it by hand be too difficult?

    • I think it could be done: pretty sure they didn’t use electric appliances back in the beginning…
      You can see how rough my dough looked until it had a little rest. Then I used the pasta machine to smooth it out by running it through repeatedly as I described. If you don’t have a pasta machine, I think you could knead the dough, cover and rest, knead, cover rest—it it a much stiffer dough than Italian pasta dough—but letting it rest and relax makes any dough more pliable. Definitely roll it out in sections, not all at once.

      Give it a try. The ingredients are not expensive…

  6. I’m on the hunt for ramen recipe… I wanna make it tomorrow… I’m glad I fond your blog… It looks so delicious

    • Hi Tes,

      I have a hard time finding good ramen noodles so I’m glad that this recipe works so well. Hope you enjoy the noodles too!

  7. Hello Tess, I’m on the hunt for different noodle recipes ( I work for a ramen house) and I am going to try your recipe and the others you said you had links to but I cannot find the links to them. Might you point those links out to me? Thank you :)

    Leah.

  8. Hi,
    I came across your blog because I got the bright idea of giving my boyfriend “Home-made Ramen” or at least the ability to make it for Christmas. So I went on a mission to find all the hard to find ingredients on the internet for Christmas :P

    Anyway, after much, much searching I was finally able to find a store online that had Kansui. I ended up finding it by searching for “lye water” instead of the other two names.
    It arrived quickly and in good condition — so I wanted to post the link to the store here, in hopes of helping out someone else desperately trying to find where to buy Kansui online :)

    http://www.philamfood.com/

    Just search for “lye water” in the search box, and it should come up. I hope that information is really helpful for someone because it took me like three days to find that store :P

    In the meantime I plan to try your recipe after Christmas, hopefully it’ll go well :)
    Thanks for the great article and pictures.
    Happy Holidays!
    Michelle

    • Hi Michelle,

      Lovely idea for a gift. Well, being the noodle addict that I am, I would think that!

      Glad you found the kansui. Thanks for the link—I’m sure others will find it helpful.

      Let me know how the recipe / recipes go when you try them.

      Oh, and very best wishes for a happy Christmas!

      Tess

  9. Pingback: Reflections of a foodie & the making of Ramen | Kitchen Musings

    • Hi veron,
      I’m happy that you enjoyed the recipe and that it was a success. I’m looking forward to making ramen here in my new kitchen where I have more than 3 feet of counter!

  10. Pingback: Miso Ramen: a night for a fire « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

  11. Hi Tess
    I love ramen and want to make my own. But I am a novice, albeit ambitious, cook, so I have a few dumb questions. Is the flour bleached or unbleached, or does it even matter? And may I assume that the wheat gluten is of the flour type?
    I don’t have a traditional pasta machine. I do however have a Popeil’s automatic pasta maker. I’m thinking of trying that using a spaghetti die. I’ll not cook them right away, just cut them in six equal segments, nest them, dry them, then refrigerate them. What do you think, am I on the right track?
    Had little problem finding the Koon Chun potassium carbonate / sodium bi-carbonate, or as I call it,”The magic noodle elixir”. I have a big chain Chinese store just a block from my work in Artesia Cal. Anyone in California, Texas, Nevada, or Washington can find it at a 99 Ranch Market near you. It’s in the same section as Soy sauce and vinegar. When looking for it I had a language barrier issue also. Assuming he may not know the English chemical name for the product, I asked the first man I saw if they had Kansui. He gave me a puzzled look, so I said,”It’s for making noodles”. He said,”Oh, noodles, Isle 3″. I said,” No, it’s a sauce for making noodles strong”. He said,” Yeah, noodle make you strong”. I could see I was getting nowhere, so I struck out on my own. I found it within minutes, went back to the guy I saw earlier, showed it to him and told him that the Japanese call it Kansui. Then he said,” Oh, Kansui, that’s Chinese”. At that point I just thanked him for his help, and walked away. It wasn’t till later, after more internet research I found that another name it goes by is the misnomer, Lye Water.
    Thank you for your time, can’t wait to explore the rest of your site.

  12. Hi Dan G!
    Wow!

    I don’t know about using an extruder! Ramen noodles are usually rolled and cut. Maybe the texture would be different??? In any case, seems like it would make an edible noodle!
    I use bakers’ parchment to dry the nests of noodles: they don’t stick. Make the nests pretty loose, turn them often. Once dry, I don’t think you’d have to refrigerate them, but I don’t suppose it would hurt.

    I use King Arthur bread flour (unbleached).
    Wheat gluten:

    Good story about finding the kansui. It’s always an adventure in a store where you can’t speak the language.

    Let us know how your ramen turns out!

  13. Hi Tes,
    You’re such a genius. Im planning for a Japanese dinner for my family so I decided to make some sushi and was looking for recipe on how to make ramen.Luckily I found your site. So, its time for me to buy some sushi kit and kansui!
    Thanks!

  14. been making Ramen for about a year but I’ve been cutting the dough with an angel hair pasta setting. What are you using for cutting the noodles? Slightly bigger would be better/chewier.
    Thanks
    Darla

    • My off-brand hand cranked pasta machine only has two choices for cutting noodles. One is wide fettuccine and the other is thin spaghetti. So I’ve used the thin spaghetti cutter. I found an Atlas pasta machine (bargain hunting via thrift shops), but it needs to be cleaned and haven’t gotten around to it yet. I don’t know if it has more choices or not.

      You could try hand cutting the noodles once they are rolled out? Or are you using a noodle extruder die on a Kitchen Aid? Unfortunately I’ve never invested in the attachments so can’t advis.

  15. I have been looking everywhere for a homemade ramen noodles recipe! So happy that I was able to find yours! All of the other ones I’ve seen require just eggs and flour, and I’m thinking to myself….isn’t that just pasta? lol. Where exactly can I find Koon-Chun kansui?? Asian grocery stores? Thanks so much for this recipe :)

  16. I actually printed the kansui bottle from some blog or another and took it into our largest Asian market. They took me right to small, medium and 55 gallon drum containors of kansui to choose from.

  17. Pingback: Reflections of a foodie & the making of Ramen « kitchenmusingsblog

  18. Reblogged this on 18mitzvot: 4 out of 5 dentists recommend this blog. and commented:
    I can’t figure out how to “Like” this blog post, so I’m reblogging it. Fascinating. I love the description of the chaos in the Chinese grocery store. I love exploring foreign markets where I cannot even read the food labels. Highly unlikely I will EVER make ramen noodles from scratch, but I love “food porn”.

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