Making a strong foundation for your ramen noodles – mixing process
We have all the ingredients to make great dough. Flour, water, kansui, and probably some others like eggs, etc., depending on your noodle recipes. Now, we want to make really good dough by mixing all these ingredients.
"Mixing" is to mix flour and solution (water mixed with salt, kansui and others). What is important in mixing process is to spread solution evenly to flour and work dough so as not to destroy the gluten structure of dough. Mixing dough for a long time may tear off the gluten that is starting to combine, so we need to finish mixing process in a short time. Considering the optimal conditions of mixing, the type of mixer we use has several spokes/pins (60 rotations per minute) that mimic the principle of hand kneading, providing even water distribution to each particle of wheat flour by utilizing stirring granulation *. With this method, optimal mixing is done in a short period of time.
*Agitation Granulation: Making homogeneous dough uniformly on the whole by evenly making small grains with insufficient amount of water first and adding water onto the dough at a stroke.
Mixing process and tips for proper mixing
Put wheat flour into mixer and run the mixer for 1 minute. Stir the flour so that the water easily spreads to each grain of wheat flour, which gets air inside.
2. First water addition
With the mixer running, add 2/3 of solution and mix for 4 minutes from when all the solution has fallen into flour. At this point there is still less water, the dough is most but still lacks enough liquid. The purpose is to blend wheat flour and solution, and it is in a state where there is insufficient liquid to work the gluten structure like "kneading". Then we use agitation granulation to make evenly small grains.
Remove dough stuck on side walls of the mixer, spokes and shaft. Remove and mix the dough that contain higher water content than other parts of dough with the rest.
4. Second water addition
Turn the mixer, add the remaining solution and measure the time from when the solution has dripped to dough (mixing time for low water content: 11 minutes, medium: 6 minutes, high: 1 minute). From this point, small grains join together and gradually become larger grains. Because gluten in dough becomes tense by mixing for a specified time, we shouldn’t do mixing for longer than specified amount of time. Excessive mixing destroys gluten texture of dough.
Because the amount of liquid in low water content noodle is small, dough after mixing is still powdery. Mixing time is longer for this type of noodle because of small amount of water, which takes time to spread solution throughout dough.
Dough of high water content noodle becomes large shortly after adding solution. Mixing this kind of dough for a long time tear the gluten structure. So, the mixing time should be short.
After 4, take out the dough and move on to aging/resting process with dough still in pieces.
Mixing dough for a short time as described above minimizes stress on dough.
Because the mixer exerts a very large force, if mixing is carried out for a long time, it damages gluten tissue. If the thickness of the noodles is the same, cooking time is shorter, cooking/melting rate and roughness on noodle surface are less. This allows for delicious noodles that keep their textures long in hot soup.
What are low, medium and high water content noodles?
Although I touched on this a bit in 4 of the mixing process, ramen noodles are classified into low, medium, and high water noodles. This classification refers to ratio of liquid to the weight of wheat flour (water addition rate), 20% to 29% being low water, 30% to 38% is medium water and, 39% or more is called high water content noodles.
As characteristics of these noodles, if noodles are the same size, cooking time is longer for low water content noodles. Soup absorption or soup holding property are high, but noodles soften fast. Noodles are whitish and not transparent. The texture is hard like with a core remaining in the center.
Compared to this time of noodle, high water noodle cooks faster. Soup holding property is poor, but the texture keeps longer in hot soup. Noodles tend to be transparent and gloss with chewy, mochi-like-texture, and elasticity.
Generally, we can understand different types of ramen noodles in terms of relation between flour protein content, water ratio, and noodle size on correlation diagram of ramen noodle texture.
How to do the mixing process probably determines half of the quality of your noodles. Doing this process properly for the type of your noodles is that important.
So, we hope you’ll be able to make superb dough for your noodles by reading this article. Next step we recommend you do for quality ramen noodles is 1st resting process.
If you have any questions about what’s discussed in this article, please feel free to contact me.
Over 3 decades of his passionate devotion to making of delicious noodles have made him a guru in this industry. He’s helped over 1,000 of clients, ramen chefs, udon restaurants, soba shops, etc. to serve better noodles. He travels all over the world to share his mastery of noodle making.