Monday, March 21, 2011

Homemade Ramen Noodles, The Series. Episode 3: Desserts Always Helps the Mourning Process

Had another failed attempt today... At least I didn't throw it all away this time! I managed to make a lovely little dessert from the ashes of the noodle dough, but more on that later.

    I have come to the conclusion that, for the time being, my knowledge is too limited on Gluten free ingredients and thus cannot produce a proper ramen noodle. Everything that makes ramen noodles ramen noodles doesn't work without the gluten it seems. So, we'll just have to find a way to make some normal noodles... that also taste good in ramen!

    Here's the recipe I used this time around. Once again, DON'T MAKE THIS.

3/4 c flour
    1/4 c sorghum
    1/4 c millet
    1/4 c tapioca
    1/2 tsp xantham gum
1 egg
oil as needed for moisture

    I did some more research before conducting this experiment (not sure why I didn't do all this studying up before I embarked on the project) and I found some saddening discoveries here at this blog. From what I can tell, neither kansui nor oil will work gluten free.

"Kansui is a mixture of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate which form an alkaline solution (pH ~9) when mixed with water. Wheat flour contains a number of compounds called flavones and trans-ferulic acid which are bound to starch and therefore colorless or white. The addition of an alkaline solution to wheat flour changes the pH of the mixture which in turn detaches these flavones (specifically apigenin glycosides) and trans-ferulic acid from starch and allows their natural yellow color to manifest.

Another reason for the addition of kansui is to toughen the protein in wheat flour so that the resulting noodles are firmer, more elastic and springy texture and less sticky when cooked. The addition of Kansui allows the use of lower protein (and therefore less expensive) wheat flour to make noodles with the quality one would expect of noodles made with superior quality flour with higher protein levels."

    So, as stated in Episode 2, the yellow color comes from "some class" of chemical reaction with the wheat flour. Kansui is also meant to make the gluten in wheat flour more tough, which gives that special texture. Having it be less sticky/slimy after cooking would also be an added bonus!

    In addition, ramen noodles are generally made with oil, rather than eggs. I can't say whether this is scientifically accurate or not, but it seemed to me that using the oil hindered the process a lot more than it aided. In the 2nd and 3rd batches of dough I used vegetable oil, and both of them produced crumbs. The dough could not hold together, even with the addition of the egg. It appears that gluten flour can incorperate the oil because it's so sticky all on its own and losing a little bit of its adhesive quality wouldn't hurt anybody (and might actually help in this case). However, gluten free flours have an impossibly difficult time holding together and so need binding agents to give them a hand. The oil undoes what little the added binding agents can do, and the end result is, of course, a dough that falls to pieces.

    Basically, the secret elixir kansui doesn't work for us, we need eggs to help out our sad binding abilities, and oil is out of the question. The traditional ramen noodle just refuses to go gluten free! Who knew they'd be so fickle?

    Well, anyway... I've given up on age-old tradition in this case, seeing as it's given up on me. I'll just try for a noodle that's ultra delicious and we'll see who's laughing in the end!

    And with the dough-that-would-not-be-noodle I made some mini pie crusts. I rolled it flat, cut out some circles and popped them into a muffin tin. When they were done I filled then with vanilla pudding and strawberries. Scrumptious!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for trying to figure this out (ramen noodles)! It's one of the things I miss most for sure, and I've thought about trying to develop a good gf ramen noodle a few times myself.