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not just any noodles

Thursday. 11. 24. 2011.

Those of you who have had wonton noodles will know that wonton noodles are not the same as egg noodles. There’s a distinct taste to them.

When I was younger, I asked my mom why they tasted different. She told me that the noodles are made with “soap water”. Alkaline in Chinese sounds like soap. For most of my life, I had thought that wonton noodles were made with soap.

In the first issue of Lucky Peach, Harold McGee wrote an article along with a recipe on making my own alkaline noodles.

The other night I was too tired to study and too bored to do nothing; decided to give the recipe a try.

Alkaline noodles are usually made with sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate.

The recipe starts with making baked soda. By baking baking soda for an hour at 250ºC, the sodium bicarbonate breaks down to sodium carbonate. The key is to apply a low heat to it for a long time. This stuff is supposed to keep almost indefinitely as long as it’s kept in an air tight jar.

baked soda

The dough is SUPER tough. It’s not springy and elastic like bread dough. It kept tearing as I was trying to knead it. It also needed to be kneaded for 5 full minutes, allowed to rest for 20 minutes and then kneaded for another 5. A key characteristic of a good wonton noodle is that it “springs” between the teeth.

At 12:28 in the video below (No Reservations), Anthony Bourdain goes to see wonton noodles made in the “traditional” method.

Anthony Bourdain in Hong Kong

The dough rests for an hour in the fridge before I divvy it up and put it through the pasta maker.

dough ready for resting

Working with the pasta machine on our little makeshift island makes me wish we had more space for a bench. It would probably help if I had less stuff on our makeshift island but then again I don’t exactly have space anywhere else to put the stuff. I’m hoping for a proper island but that’s kind of far down in house related priorities.

rolling out dough

I could have used the cutting attachment but decided to cut the noodles with a knife. I’m thinking that I’ll make thin noodles as my next batch using the cutting attachment.


I was so excited by how the noodles turned out that I totally forgot to take a picture but they definitely had the distinct taste of wonton noodles. I ate some of it dry with oyster sauce and found them to be a bit too alkaline. I reboiled some of the noodles and had it in a chicken broth. The noodles didn’t taste as alkaline and the broth picked up some of the alkaline flavour which is something you taste in the broth of a bowl of wonton noodles.

I called my mom that night to tell her about my noodle making adventure and she told me that perhaps I should be a chef except it’s a hard life so it’s best to stick with nutrition. That was unexpected.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Wednesday. 12. 7. 2011. 2.13 am

    Great job with the noodles. Not easy to do!

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