Foodie

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Homemade UDON Noodles



I don't know if you have noticed that the prices for frozen udon noodles have gone more than double and it is time that i have to replicate it by making them at home.  I have been using udon to fry my Kuala Lumpur Black Hokkien Mee and I am feeling homesick for this comfort food.  


In fact i have many times failed to get the texture of Udon to be like the store bought ones, which is bouncy and chewy.  Following the authentic Japanese recipes on making udon, which use only flour, salt and water, does not help, blame it all on the flour and everything else except my own lack of 'khoong fu'.  I have kneaded, banged, smashed and even stepped on the dough but the result of the udon, has always tasted like 'mein fun koh'.  I want bouncy and chewy,  so i am going to use more,  much more than expected , TAPIOCA STARCH and the ratio of 1:1 to all-purpose flour.  Why????, all purpose flour and not bread flour?  I have read that it was impossible to achieve a good Udon using American flours(no wonder) and that the Japanese Flour has a lower protein/gluten that will have a better result.  So I used bleached all-purpose flour and alot of tapioca starch to further reduce the protein/gluten content. 

With the flours issue off my mind, i have to think of an easier way to knead the dough mixture to death, to obtain as smooth a dough as possible.  I am definitely not sacrificing my KitchenAid Mixer and know that the Breadmachine will do the work.  But, with the Breadmachine, the blade was so short that it was not able to draw together the dough to make into a ball for kneading.  I had to help by pushing the dry dough and this is too tedious.  So, for the next batch of dough, i changed the procedure.  First, i put in the water, salt and then the bleached all-purpose flour, start the dough function and let the machine churn it into a batter, then i added the tapioca starch, oh yes, this is so much easier.  The machine can now knead the dough like it would for a bread dough.  My breadmachine does not have a only kneading function, so i have to remove the kneaded dough just before it starts to proof.


I have also found that the water i used to cook the Udon has to be salted and that makes alot of difference to the taste, the udon does not taste doughy at all and this is how i like the udon to be.  I do not care if this is not authentic Japanese Udon or perhaps i should rename this noodle to 'Fat noodle'. 


Lets make some 'Fat Noodle':


Ingredient:

14 ozs/3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
14 ozs/the whole bag tapioca starch
3 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups water

Water and more salt for cooking the noodles.

Method:


Put 1 1/2 cups water to the bowl of the breadmachine, add in salt and flour.

Start the dough funtion and let the machine mix the flour into a batter.  Then slowly, add in the tapioca starch, holding back about 1/2 cup for bench flour.  Adjust the water with the remaining 1/4 cup water and let the machine knead the dough until soft and pliable. 

Just before the machine starts proofing the dough, remove the dough and put into a zip-loc bag.  Leave to rest for at least 3 hours.  If you are leaving it overnight, leave it in the fridge and let it come back to room temperature before rolling and cutting.

ROLLING AND CUTTING:

Spread some of the 1/2 cup of tapioca starch as bench flour,  Put the dough on top of the tapioca starch and cut into 3 or 4 portions.  Roll out one portion and keep the other portions in the zip-loc bag to prevent drying out.

Roll this portion into a rectangular shape to about slightly under a 1/4 inch.  Make sure that it does not stick to the counter by using more tapioca starch as needed.  Spread more tapioca starch on top of rolled rectangle and fold the dough into 3 folds.  Using a sharp knife, cut into slightly under a 1/4 inch strips.  Continue to cut to the end of the rectangle.  Undo the strips and shape the folded bends neatly.  Dust with more tapioca starch if needed.  I like to cook the noodles as soon as they are cut, so have a large wok or pot of water readily boiling.  Salt has to added to the water, amount depends on the amount of water.  I used 2 tsp salt for 2 liters water. 

Put in the cut noodles into the boiling salted water, try to add loosely stranded noodles instead of a huge cluster this is to prevent the noodles clumping together.  DO NOT STIR the noodles, wait until it starts to float, then stir so that they cook more evenly.  If you STIR the noodles before they are cooked, they will break and you would have to use a spoon to eat rather than chopsticks.  To check if the noodle is cooked through, test a strand of noodle by breaking and if there is no more white center, then they are cooked through. 


Remove the noodles with a spider/sieve and immediately give them a cold water bath, this is to stop further cooking and by washing until the noodles are cold, will also rid of most of the starchy water clinging onto the noodles.  The Udon is ready to cook into however you would like to serve them.

Continue to roll, cut and cook with the other portions.

Cooked Udon noodles can be kept in a zip-loc bag in the fridge until needed.  I have not found a way to freeze them.  I had a tiny bag which got frozen in my fridge and when i thawed them, they were not good eats.

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