Here in its home country, ramen is, if not the healthiest thing around, at least something that you can eat every day and not get sick. And of course, the taste is incomparable.
This recipe will teach you how to make true ramen from scratch, with little more cost than a instant ramen packet (depending on what you do for the soup). It does take some extra effort, but if you enjoy cooking and know how to knead things, it should be fine!
Step 1: Gather your ingredients
3/4 Cups Flour (see below)
~3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
~1 tbsp water (depending on flour and humidity)
In Japan, we do not have all-purpose flour, only low gluten and high gluten flours, which we have to mix. If you do have easy access to these flours, you should mix about 1 part low gluten to 2 parts high gluten. Otherwise, just use all-purpose flour. It's not vital to the noodles.
This dough doubles or even quadruples very well, although the dough becomes harder to knead.
Step 2: Combine.
Then slowly combine the ingredients together.
Step 3: Knead that dough.
The dough is ready when your hands become fairly clean and the dough does not stick as much anymore (and when your forearms are sore). When it is the right consistency, you should be able to lift your hand and the dough should fall off after about a second.
If it's too sticky, add some flour and knead it in. If it doesn't stick at all, add some water a few DROPS at a time.
Step 4: Rest.
Put it in a damp cloth and find something to do for at least 30 minutes in the summer, up to 2 hours in the winter.
Step 5: Stretch it!
If you can, get it to about 1mm in thickness. If it starts sticking, get some more dry flour onto there.
If it starts springing back to its original shape, let it rest for a minute or two.
Step 6: Cut the dough!
Once it is folded in a strip, start cutting it. A wide square knife is best, but any knife will work as long as it is big enough.
Periodically spread some more flour. It won't hurt anything and it's best to be safe rather than sorry.
Once you have a pile of cut noodles, toy at them with your fingers to unfold them. toss them around with some more flour, just be careful not to break the noodles.
Step 7: Boil it!
As long as the water is hot enough, they should start floating.
I usually boil them about 4 minutes, depending on how thin I got the noodles. The best way is to just taste the noodles and drain them when they're just soft enough. You can also boil some vegetables or meat with the noodles to heat them up, just make sure to not cool the water down too much when you put them in.
Step 8: Add some soup and eat.
If you make or have your own stock, then yes, just the stock and some seasoning will work perfect. You can also make tonkotsu soup with pig bones, but that amounts to about a day of simemring and reducing, something I am too lazy for.
Spinach and Chinese cabbage (hakusai) both go great with ramen, as does most kinds of mild meat.You can also add corn, peas, or any other manner of frozen vegetables. Eggs also go will in the soup, hard boiled or mixed in.
Finally, let us examine the price. The eggs, flour and salt should come to no more than 50 cents. Depending on how much you spend on your soup, you should be able to get a decent bowl of ramen for about a dollar in ingredients. Not much more expensive than a instant packet! You can, of course, really go crazy on the condiments.