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When Emily and I took a trip to Japan earlier this year, one of the things we were most excited about was the food. Before we left, we had scoped out a number of restaurants, and we were excited to try a variety of foods we had only eaten in Americanized forms.

As it happened, we ended up going to very few of the restaurants we had scoped out beforehand. However, the spontaneity made dining more fun, and the quality of everything was a revelation. We learned tofu has flavor. The simple preparations of vegetables inspired us to renew our efforts at making great vegetable side dishes. The quality of food at convenience stores had us questioning our entire worldview. And our first experience at a counter service soba shop specializing in tempura soba – and, incidentally, our first-ever experience of an intimidating chef who created an atmosphere of what we can only call dining in fear – made us crave noodles throughout the remainder of our trip.

Following that visit, we tried a variety of noodle dishes, including zaru soba, vegan ramen bowls, udon dishes, and yakisoba. However, the best noodles had were springy ramen noodles made with eggs by a ramen chef with a penchant for self-promotion. It’s important to note ramen noodles generally don’t include eggs – an alkalizing solution, kansui, gives noodles their familiar coloring, springy consistency, and curly shape – but eggs give the noodles extra richness that we appreciated.

On coming back to Arkansas, one of our first goals was to come up with our own recipe for ramen. While it’s taken us some time to perfect a good vegetarian ramen broth – and we’ll definitely be sharing that recipe soon – the noodles came together quickly. Traditional ramen noodles contain only four ingredients, and the use of eggs simply required us to change the amount of water added.

These noodles can be used for a variety of dishes, though we think they go best with the ubiquitous soup that generally involves making an incredibly savory broth. However, these broths usually take quite a bit of time to make, so if you’re impatient, you can also stir fry the noodles with cabbage, bean sprouts, and Japanese-style Worcestershire sauce to make yakisoba, which is also delicious.

ramen noodles

Ramen noodles contain kansui, an alkaline solution that gives the noodles their characteristic coloring and springiness. To make your own kansui, spread baking soda on a foil-lined baking tray and bake for one hour at 250 degrees. It will reduce in weight and volume, so we recommend making at least a quarter cup at a time. We also recommend that you do not touch the baking soda, as it can irritate sensitive skin. To make kansui, mix the baking soda into the water used in the recipe.

To make this recipe vegan, omit the eggs and use 3/4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of baked baking soda.

  • 14 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon baked baking soda (see note)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine flour and salt in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk water and baked baking soda together until the baking soda dissolves. Add the kansui mixture to the flour. Add eggs to the flour mixture and stir until the dough begins to come together. Pour contents of bowl onto a counter and knead dough for 10 minutes, or until dough comes together and forms a smooth ball. If the dough is too dry and you’re having difficulties incorporating all of the flour, you can add up to 2 tablespoons of water 1 teaspoon at a time. Cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to a day.

If you’re using a pasta maker: Divide the dough into four even pieces. Press each piece of dough into a flat, oblong shape with your hands. Working with one piece of dough at a time, run the dough through the 0 setting of your pasta maker, then fold it up and run it through again. Continue this process until the dough is laminated. Once laminated, run the dough through each numerical setting until the dough is at your desired level of thickness (we think 6 works quite well for these noodles). If your machine has a cutting function, run the rolled-out dough through the cutter; we have found that the round, spaghetti-esque cutter works perfectly.

If you’re not using a pasta maker: Divide the dough into eight even pieces. Press each piece of dough into a flat, oblong shape with your hands. Working with one piece of dough at a time, generously flour a countertop and begin rolling out the dough into a long shape. The goal is to get each piece of dough about 7 inches wide and 12 inches long. Set aside the rolled-out dough and repeat for the other pieces of dough. Once all the pieces are rolled, fold the dough, one piece at a time, several times over itself and cut thin pieces with a sharp knife. Separate the noodles gently, tossing them with flour if needed to prevent sticking.

If you’re planning to add to your favorite soup or stir fry right away, boil noodles for about 2 minutes, drain, and rinse with cold water before adding to your dish. If you’re planning on eating the noodles later, let the cut noodles dry for an hour before sealing in a plastic bag and freezing.