Round two of Noodle-Making! In case you didn’t see it, I tried making another Japanese noodle a few months ago. That was a very difficult process and involved several attempts, none of which were entirely successful. These lovely Udon Noodles, on the other hand, were much easier and turned out well. And, as the recipe instructs, you do most of the kneading by stomping on the dough! How fun is that? It actually got a little… not-so-interesting after a while, but that’s okay. The noodles turned out fine, quite well actually, and they didn’t take an extraordinary amount of work. They do need some time to rest though, so I would suggest making them maybe half a day in advance. Start them in the morning and have them for lunch or dinner? Or keep the dough in the fridge for a few days or the freezer until you need it.
Also, this was partially an experiment for me. Traditional Udon is made with a higher-gluten Udon Flour. This original recipe actually calls for something like 1/3 All-Purpose flour and 2/3 Bread Flour (higher gluten). However, because I did not have Bread Flour and I didn’t really want to buy a whole bag, I decided to try it with all All-Purpose. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t be “chewy” like Udon noodles tend to be described as. Especially with the difficulty with the Soba noodles – they were nearly impossible to get “chewy!” Because buckwheat flour is gluten-free, it didn’t bind very well, and the first few attempts landed me with irritatingly mushy noodles. Sucked. But these ones turned out well. My little sister liked them, and my mom said that they were “delicious.” Success.
Homemade Udon Noodles
4 teaspoons Salt
1 cup Warm Water
3 1/4 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
Additional Flour, for dusting
Add the Salt to the Water and stir until it has dissolved. Put the Flour in a large bowl.
Pour the salty water into the bowl with the flour. Using your hands, mix the flour and water together until a dough begins to form. Pull the dough up from the bottom of the bowl and press down, repeating until a rough ball is formed. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it forcefully on a board, floured f necessary, for 5-10 minutes until the dough has smoothed out.
Transfer the dough to a large plastic ziploc bag, push out as much air as possible, and then wrap the bag in a thick towel or cloth. Put it on the floor and walk/ stomp on it with both feet. Turn as you walk, so that all the dough is evenly flattened. When the dough feels flat, remove the dough from the bag and roll it out on the board. Then fold it up and put it back into the bag and repeat the stomping and rolling process. The should become more and more smooth with each repeat. Repeat 3 or 4 times. On the last repeat, leave the dough in the bag, wrapped in the towel, and let it rest for 3 to 4 hours (during the winter, leave it in a warm place). When the dough is done resting, take it out of the bag, reshape it into a ball, then return it to the bag and walk on it one last time. Try to spread the dough with your feet, turning around 360 degrees.
Dust your work surface with a bit of flour, then place the flattened dough on top and roll it out, working from the middle out. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, flip and repeat until the dough is about 1/8-inch thick and a rectangle.*
Dust the dough with bread flour and then fold it into thirds. Using a long sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick ribbons. If the dough gets very sticky, dust it again with bread flour. Dust the noodles with bread flour before moving them from the work surface.
To cook the noodles, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Lightly shake any excess flour from the noodles and add them to the boiling water. Using wooden chopsticks or a wooden spoon, stir the noodles to prevent them from sticking to each other. Cook the noodles for 6 to 7 minutes, or until they are translucent and cooked through. Drain the noodles in a sieve and rinse under cold running water so they cool rapidly.
Once the noodles are cool enough to handle, rinse them again in cold water to make sure that all of the starch is removed.
*Rolled out dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bring the dough to room temperature before sprinkling it with flour and continuing on with the next steps.