Mixing of ramen noodle dough

ramen noodle dough after mixing process
ramen noodle dough after mixing process

We have all the ingredients to make great dough. Flour, water, kansui, and probably some others like eggs, etc., depending on your noodle recipes. Now, we want to make really good dough by mixing all these ingredients.
“Mixing” is to mix flour and solution (water mixed with salt, kansui and others). What is important in mixing process is to spread solution evenly to flour and work dough so as not to destroy the gluten structure of dough. Mixing dough for a long time may tear off the gluten that is starting to combine, so we need to finish mixing process in a short time. Considering the optimal conditions of mixing, the type of mixer we use has several spokes/pins (60 rotations per minute) that mimic the principle of hand kneading, providing even water distribution to each particle of wheat flour by utilizing stirring granulation *. With this method, optimal mixing is done in a short period of time.

*Agitation Granulation: Making homogeneous dough uniformly on the whole by evenly making small grains with insufficient amount of water first and adding water onto the dough at a stroke.

Mixing process and tips for proper mixing

1. Air-kneading

Put wheat flour into mixer and run the mixer for 1 minute. Stir the flour so that the water easily spreads to each grain of wheat flour, which gets air inside.

2. First water addition

With the mixer running, add 2/3 of solution and mix for 4 minutes from when all the solution has fallen into flour. At this point there is still less water, the dough is most but still lacks enough liquid. The purpose is to blend wheat flour and solution, and it is in a state where there is insufficient liquid to work the gluten structure like “kneading”. Then we use agitation granulation to make evenly small grains.

3. Cleaning

Remove dough stuck on side walls of the mixer, spokes and shaft. Remove and mix the dough that contain higher water content than other parts of dough with the rest.

How Agitation Granulation happens
How dough is made in the mixing process
adding liquid little by little flour being mixed
adding liquid little by little flour being mixed
4. Second water addition

Turn the mixer, add the remaining solution and measure the time from when the solution has dripped to dough (mixing time for low water content: 11 minutes, medium: 6 minutes, high: 1 minute). From this point, small grains join together and gradually become larger grains.
Because gluten in dough becomes tense by mixing for a specified time, we shouldn’t do mixing for longer than specified amount of time. Excessive mixing destroys gluten texture of dough.
Because the amount of liquid in low water content noodle is small, dough after mixing is still powdery. Mixing time is longer for this type of noodle because of small amount of water, which takes time to spread solution throughout dough.

medium water content dough
medium water content dough

Dough of high water content noodle becomes large shortly after adding solution. Mixing this kind of dough for a long time tear the gluten structure. So, the mixing time should be short.

After 4, take out the dough and move on to aging/resting process with dough still in pieces.

noodle texture last long in hot soup
noodle texture last long in hot soup

Mixing dough for a short time as described above minimizes stress on dough.
Because the mixer exerts a very large force, if mixing is carried out for a long time, it damages gluten tissue. If the thickness of the noodles is the same, cooking time is shorter, cooking/melting rate and roughness on noodle surface are less. This allows for delicious noodles that keep their textures long in hot soup.

left: low, right: medium, middle: high water content
left: low, right: medium, middle: high water content
mixing ingredients at 60 rotations per minute
mixing ingredients at 60 rotations per minute

What are low, medium and high water content noodles?
Although I touched on this a bit in 4 of the mixing process, ramen noodles are classified into low, medium, and high water noodles. This classification refers to ratio of liquid to the weight of wheat flour (water addition rate), 20% to 29% being low water, 30% to 38% is medium water and, 39% or more is called high water content noodles.
As characteristics of these noodles, if noodles are the same size, cooking time is longer for low water content noodles. Soup absorption or soup holding property are high, but noodles soften fast. Noodles are whitish and not transparent. The texture is hard like with a core remaining in the center.
Compared to this time of noodle, high water noodle cooks faster. Soup holding property is poor, but the texture keeps longer in hot soup. Noodles tend to be transparent and gloss with chewy, mochi-like-texture, and elasticity.

Generally, we can understand different types of ramen noodles in terms of relation between flour protein content, water ratio, and noodle size on correlation diagram of ramen noodle texture.

How to do the mixing process probably determines half of the quality of your noodles. Doing this process properly for the type of your noodles is that important.

So, we hope you’ll be able to make superb dough for your noodles by reading this article. Next step we recommend you do for quality ramen noodles is 1st resting process.

If you have any questions about what’s discussed in this article, please feel free to contact me.

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Master Kaoru Fujii

Principal of Yamato Noodle School We always try to approach things in a holistic and comprehensive manner, paying special attention to their essence and fundamentals: this Philosophy permeates all our work, allowing us to know the past, understand the present, and have a proper vision of the future of Ramen industry. Throughout our long history we have accumulated a vast amount of experience and expertise on Ramen making and Ramen business which we are pleased and proud to share with our students – now, with students of our Online Ramen School as well. Being at the leading edge of Ramen cuisine practice and research ourselves, we are also open to new approaches, trends and styles constantly emerging in the Ramen world – always striving the keep our curriculum up to date with new recipes, cooking techniques, serving patterns, and Ramen business management know-hows.