How to make ramen noodles on a ramen machine
In this article we will explain in detail how ramen noodles, like those served in Ramen restaurants in Japan and around the world,
are produced – i.e. on specialized, usually roller-type, noodle machines capable of processing ramen noodle dough with hydration
ratio ranging from ~25% (e.g. for Hakata style ramen noodles) to ~45% (e.g. for Tsukemen style ramen noodles).
Depending on circumstances of available space and personnel, Ramen shops or other food businesses offering fresh craft ramen noodles may not necessarily produce noodles directly where they serve them (as noodles can either be made at some other location, or sourced from a third party supplier). But regardless of sourcing, most Ramen shops use machine-made noodles for their offerings.
In our example below we will use wheat flour called “Tsukemen Shin Men” made by a Japanese company NIPPN, with a protein
and ash content of 10% and 0.37% respectively.
The noodles below have a nominal water ratio of 38%, and thus belong to a category of medium hydration noodles.
For demonstration purposes we will use “Richmen Type I CE” ramen noodle machine (CE means that the machine conforms to European safety regulations, and can thus be imported to countries members of the European Union). Similar models of ramen noodle makers for North American are also available.
The ramen machine used in the example can produce up to 100 portions of fresh craft ramen per hour (may vary depending on a recipe and production techniques).
Standard ramen noodle ingredients are: wheat flour, water, kansui (usually a mixture of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate), and salt.
Thorough measuring is a key for good ramen noodles. In our example we will use 4000 g of flour.
Since kansui is usually added in a proportion of 1% to the weight of flour, we will add 40 grams of it.
Salt is also added in the amount of 1% to the weight of flour (thus, 40 g of salt).
Since our goal is to have a nominal hydration of 38% we will add 1440 g of water: yes, 4000 x 0.38 = 1520 g but because kansui and salt are considered as a liquid ingredients (as they can dissolve in water), we will add 1440 g
(4000 x 0.38) – ((4000 x 0.01) + (4000 x 0.01)) = 1440 g.
After weighing the required amount of water, add kansui and salt into it.
(depicted: adding salt to water solution for ramen dough)
(depicted: adding kansui)
Thoroughly stir the solution until kansui and salt are completely dissolved.
Put the flour into a mixer tank of the ramen machine, and close the lid.
Set the timer for 1 minute.
Press the START button on the ramen machine mixer unit.
During this 1 minute of “dry mixing” flour will be properly conditioned for ramen dough making.
After the first minute of dry mixing is over, set the timer for 4 minutes, start the mixer, and pour in 2/3 of the water solution through a lid.
After most of the water has seeped into the tank, use spatula to push the remaining amount through holes on the lid.
Depicted: ramen dough during mixing after adding 2/3 of water solution.
After 4 minutes of mixing, open the lid, and remove dough residues accumulated on the mixer tank rods and surfaces – these dough residues should be put back into the dough mix (this is needed to ensure a more homogeneous dough mass, and better noodle quality).
Plastic spatula can be used to remove dough residues from the mixer tank surfaces.
Set the timer for 6 minutes. Close the lid. Press the START button.
Add the remaining amount of water solution through the lid.
Once the mixing is finished, dough may be put into a plastic bag for conditioning (for about 2 hours at 28 degrees Celsius) – this is recommended.
Otherwise, dough may also be transferred directly into a dough hopper for immediate noodle making.
Transfer dough mix into a dough hopper, and place the hopper onto the ramen machine above the Rollers compartment.
Transfer a certain amount of dough from the hopper on top of the gap between Rollers (enough to cover it with dough).
The grid above the Rollers compartment serves to protect users from injury: while dough can be fed to Rollers through the grid, the machine will not operate if the grid is opened.
Using a handle on the front side of the ramen machine, set the gap between two Rollers to 1.5 mm (which is a standard Rollers gap width for medium hydration dough)
Set the Rollers rotational speed not higher than 5 (recommended).
Turn the operation mode lever to the upper (“Roller”) position.
Press the “ROLLER START” button on the front panel to start the rolling operation.
Once the rolling operation is started, Rollers will rotate inwards forming dough mix into a dough sheet.
Wrap a tip of the dough sheet onto a rolling pin as shown in the picture below. Then place the pin onto supports above the left-side Roller.
Keep feeding an appropriate amount of dough mix into the gap between Rollers.
After all dough mix was formed into a dough sheet, place the rolling pin onto the right side rolling pin supports above the Rollers compartment.
Dough sheet combination stage (recommended):
Take another pin, and evenly split the dough sheet onto two rolling pins.
Depicted: dough sheet evenly divided into two rolling pins.
After dividing the dough sheet into two parts of equal length onto two rolling pins, make a fold in the middle as shown in the picture below.
Set the gap between Rollers to 2 mm.
Explanation: the gap is usually set to a width that is 70% of the thickness of dough sheet to be passed through the Rollers. Because in this case we have two layers with a thickness of 1.5 mm, the gap is calculated as 3 mm X 0.7 = ~2 mm.
Repeat wrapping / rolling procedures.
Combination process makes ramen dough sheet more firm and elastic, significantly improving final noodle quality.
Once a tip of the dough sheet was wrapped onto a rolling pin, and placed onto supports above the left side Roller, combination will proceed automatically.
If the dough sheet was not divided into completely equal parts, at the end of the Combination operation overlap the longer end over the shorter to ensure that the full length of the dough sheet is combined into a single double-layer sheet.
For the second Combination stage (recommended) set the gap between Rollers to 3 mm.
Divide the dough sheet into two equal halves on two rolling pins.
To prevent dough layers from sticking to each other, during the second (final) combination stage use automatic flour duster installed above the left side roller.
Dispensing amount should be adjusted according to the hydration level of dough (note: it may not be necessary to use flour duster when making low-hydration noodles).
After the the final combination, put the dough sheet into a plastic bag, tightly seal it, and let it stay for about 30 minutes at room temperature for better dough conditioning. At the dough sheet conditioning is over proceed to the Thinning operation.
Set the gap between Rollers to 2 mm.
Set the Rollers speed to a desired value (between 5 and 10)
During the Thinning operation use automatic flour duster (note: it may not be necessary for low hydration ramen noodles).
Make sure to measure dough sheet thickness after each thinning.
In this example, after passing the dough sheet through a 2 mm gap, the sheet’s thickness turned out to be around 2.5 mm (dough thickness will usually be bigger than the nominal gap between Rollers).
Because in this example, the dough sheet will be cut into two different types of ramen noodles, after the first thinning we will divide it into two halves.
The first half will be cut using a square ramen cutter No. 18 (with a groove width of 1.7 mm). The number 1.5 mm given on the right side of the table in the picture below stands for the recommended final thickness of dough sheet.
This is premised on a standard square shape of ramen: noodle width will be determined by the width of grooves of a cutter installed into the machine during cutting (which is 1.7 mm), but the thickness will bounce back and become bigger than 1.5, finally reaching around 1.7, giving us square shaped noodles.
Depicted: cutting the dough sheet into two halves.
Cutter size table.
Set the gap between Rollers to 1.5 mm.
Perform rolling / wrapping procedures as described above.
Measure the dough sheet thickness.
In our example, after passing the dough sheet through a 1.5 mm Rollers gap, the thickness turned to be 2 mm.
Set the Rollers gap to 1 mm.
Explanation: since our target thickness is 1.5 mm, based on the bounce back ratio observed during previous rounds of thinning, we can expect to achieve it by passing the sheet through a 1 mm gap.
Insert a cutter into the machine.
Lift up the safety brackets, and screw in fixing bolts.
Turn the operation mode lever into the “Cutter” position.
Connect noodle portion conveyor to a dedicated socket on the control box.
Mount the automatic flour duster on top of the noodle portion conveyor.
Connect the noodle portion conveyor to a dedicated socket on the control box.
Choose the desired noodle length / portion size using the “Noodle Length” control knob above the cutter compartment.
Press the “CUTTER START” button on the front panel to start the cutting operation.
Start collecting noodle portions delivered by the conveyor.
It may be convenient to place a container to put collected noodle portions to.
For the second half of the dough sheet we will use a cutter No. 16 for round-shape noodles.
Since the recommended dough sheet thickness for the size 16 cutter is 1.7 mm, the noodle sheet can be cut immediately after passing it through a 1.5 mm Rollers gap.
Cutting procedures are the same as described above.
Square-shape ramen noodles cut with a cutter No. 18.
Round-shape ramen noodles cut with a cutter No. 16.
How to clean ramen machine dough mixer
Soak sponges in water, strain off excess moisture, put the sponges into the mixer tank, and close the lid.
Set the timer to ~15 minutes, and start the mixer.
Cleaning is done by rotating wet sponges inside the mixer tank.
When the rotation time is over, wipe dry the surfaces with a cloth. A follow up wiping with a food grade sanitizer is recommended.