Wanting to make real ramen noodles, but feeling intimidated by the special qualities of this classic Japanese dish? We’ve got you covered with a simple trick that will transform your basic pasta into springy ramen goodness.  

Have you ever had a bowl of real ramen? Forget about that instant stuff. Authentic Japanese ramen has finally taken the West by storm in recent years, and no wonder. This hearty noodle soup dish is a cultural icon in Japan, where it comes in countless varieties from every part of the country. (I still remember the Hokkaido-style butter and corn ramen I had years ago in Sapporo — forever yum!)

Ramen basically consists of Chinese wheat-based noodles served in a meat or fish based broth, flavored with ingredients like soy sauce or miso, and topped with delicious tidbits such as simmered pork, dried seaweed, green onions, and bamboo shoots. Hungry yet?

The caveat, of course, is that it’s not terribly easy to make real ramen at home. The kicker is the noodles, and more specifically, their special texture. After all, this isn’t spaghetti we’re talking about here. Real ramen noodles are made with kansui, a type of alkaline mineral water, which gives them a distinct firmness that goes especially well with that rich broth. This quality actually originated in inner Mongolia, where many of the lakes naturally contain the right alkaline minerals to make the perfect noodle.

Now, if you want to make real ramen at home, you can get the right noodles at Asian supermarkets or maybe even at your usual grocery store. But if you can’t find them in your local spots, never fear! I’m here to share an amazing kitchen trick that will let you make real ramen at home using basic pasta and my favorite magical pantry item.

Make Real Ramen Noodles with This Crazy Trick

make-real-ramen

What you need:

  • Uncooked spaghetti noodles (or pasta of your choice)
  • Baking soda
  • A pot of water

Make it: 

  1. Fill a pot with enough water to hold your noodles, leaving plenty of room for bubbles. Now, the trick: Add a tablespoon of baking soda for each quart of water. Season the water with a nice dash of salt and bring it to a boil.
  2. Add the noodles to the boiling water. When the starch hits the soda, it’s going to be froth city, so stick around to stir the pot and prevent a mess on the stovetop.
  3. Let the noodles cook according to the instructions on the box. Remove from heat, strain, and serve.

Add your noodles to a ramen-style broth or another flavorful soup base. Dig in and say “Whoa!” You’ll notice the noodles have that special springy firmness unique to ramen noodles. “How can this be?” you may cry. Well, this magic trick boils down (get it?) to basic chemistry: To put it simply, baking soda’s got that alkaline power. Seriously, is there anything this stuff can’t do?

Use this trick to make real ramen noodles and let us know how it goes!

Image: Creative Commons

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