Alkaline Noodles can be used to made Chinese Cold Noodles, Hot Dry Noodles.
The alkaline causes the flour to swell and make softer fuller noodles.
The quality of wheat is affected by where it is grown. In northern China, the climate is dryer with large temperature differences between day and night, which produces wheat with a high protein content and therefore strong gluten.
In the south, where the climate is humid, there is not much temperature difference between day and night, and so the wheat protein content is low, and gluten is weak.
To make up for this deficiency, people in the south mixed their flour with alkaline water to strengthen the protein molecules’ binding capacity. This also improves the texture and toughness of the noodles.
Now, alkaline water not only makes up for the lack of gluten, but alkaline water itself has become a unique flavor of many local variations on noodles. It also gives the noodles a lovely golden color.
Flavonoids and some organic acids are added to flour and when combined with the starch, will produce white flour and thus white noodles.
Adding alkaline water increases the PH level, and counteracts the effect of the flavonoids, organic acids and starch bringing out the natural yellow of the wheat flour.
The composition of alkaline water differs from brand to brand. You should look for a brand that contains 74.5g of potassium carbonate and 3.4g of sodium carbonate to 100 ml water.
Ingredients for Alkaline Noodles (serves 10)
- 35 ml alkaline water (Lye Water or Kansui)
- 400 ml water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 kg high gluten flour
How to Make Alkaline Noodles
Make the liquid for the dough. Take a large bowl and add 35 ml of alkaline water.
Add 400 ml of water and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir well.
Now let’s talk about mixing options. You can mix the flour and liquid together by hand which is simple enough: start with putting the flour in the bowl first, and slowly pour in the liquid while you mix quickly.
This is called the “bread water” approach. This method produces a nice soft dough, requiring less effort when kneading.
However, a mixer is quicker and more efficient.
You might be tempted to use the dough hook, but trust me, the paddle gives a better result in this instance. Put 1 kg of flour into the bowl and start the machine in low gear. Add the liquid slowly, paying attention to controlling your pouring speed so that the liquid does not pool in the bowl.
As the dough combines, the resistance will increase. The paddle will not knead the dough, and the dough hook will not do an adequate job. Take the dough out and knead it by hand.
The amount of dough is too much to work with in one lot, so roughly press the dough together and cut it in half. Kneading two smaller lumps of dough will be much easier than one large one.
Mold each lump into a cylindrical shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Rolling out the dough will be tough at first. Using a small rolling pin will give you more leverage and make the job easier.
Roll the dough out flat along its length to a thickness of about ½ in. Roll it into a cylinder shape again, and roll out flat. Repeat this roll out/roll up process five times. After this, the dough will be soft and smooth, and the gluten fully developed.
Divide each lump into five equal portions, giving a total of 10 portions. Wrap each in plastic wrap to prevent them drying out.
Take one dough portion and roll it out thin, in preparation for putting through the pasta machine. Because the dough is tough, it needs to be quite thin so as not to damage the machine.
Roll the piece of dough through the pasta machine. Each time you pass it through reduce the machine’s thickness setting.
Each time you roll the dough through the machine, it will most likely crack along the edges due to the irregularity of the original shape until it gets to thickness setting 6. To smooth the dough, lay it on your work surface and fold the edges to the middle to get straight edges.
Adjust the thickness of the pasta machine to 3, pass the folded dough through once. Reduce the thickness to 5 and pass it through again.
This time, fold the strip of dough in half, reducing its length, and pass it through the machine on thickness setting 3. Pass it through again at setting 6 and you will now have a strip with nice straight edges ready to be cut into noodles.
Pasta machines generally come with two cutting widths, 6.6 mm and 1.6 mm. A thickness setting of 6 and cutter setting of 1.6 will produce square shaped noodles, which is the typical shape for alkaline noodles.
When the dough is almost through, support the noodles in your palm, so they don’t end up a tangled pile. Gather up the noodles and put aside. Because alkaline dough is relatively hard, you should find it doesn’t stick to the machine, and you should not need any flour to prevent sticking.