How to Make *Baked* Baking Soda for Alkaline Noodles (like Ramen)

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What are “alkaline” noodles and why are they prized in Asian cuisine?  How can you use baking soda to make these alkaline noodles? Continue reading to find out!

Baked Baking Soda: this is baking soda that has been baked in the oven

What are alkaline noodles?

  • Alkaline noodles are noodles that have been made with water that has a higher pH than normal drinking water.
  • Remember Chemistry 101? Water has a neutral pH of about 7. Adding alkaline salts to water changes its neutral pH of 7 to a basic pH of 9-11 and results in alkaline water. When we use alkaline water to make noodle dough, we get alkaline noodles like ramen which are chewier/bouncier than the softer noodles made without alkaline water.
  • Alkaline noodles are prized for their unique texture – a firm, chewy, springy, slurpy-smooth mouth-feel.
  • Alkaline noodles have a characteristic yellow color due to the higher pH levels. As the pH rises above 9.0, the yellow pigments that occur naturally in wheat react with the alkali salt to give the noodles it characteristic yellow color.
  • Alkaline noodles also have a characteristic smell which I find it hard to describe but it’s like an ever-so-slightly stringent smell.

 

What are the origins of alkaline noodles?

  • In parts of China where alkaline wheat noodles are common, they were traditionally made with alkaline water that came from wells. Before industrialization of the food production in China, kansui was made at home by filtering water through ashes produced from burning hardwood.
  • Nowadays, the alkaline noodles are made with commercially produced alkaline powder or alkaline water.
  • In Japan, alkaline noodles are now known as “ramen” and was introduced by the Chinese in 1910. The term “Ramen” is the Japanese kanji pronunciation of the Chinese characters for “lo mein”.
  • In Chinese, the mixture of sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate is called “jian” and when mixed in water it is called jian water or “jian shui ” or “kansui”(枧水/梘水, 碱水 / 鹼水) “xue jian shui” (snow alkaline water) . Kansui sounds like the Chinese word for “soap water” so growing up, I literally thought we were eating noodles made with soap.
Kansui or Lye Water - Alkaline Water
Kansui – Alkaline Water

Can I make alkaline noodles at home?

  • Yes, you can use commercially produced food-grade lye water sold in Asian grocery stores. One popular brand is Koon Chun and is a solution containing Potassium Carbonate & Sodium Bi-Carbonate. This is the brand I use.
  • In the absence of lye water, you can also use baking soda but it first must be baked to turn it into a stronger alkaline.

What is baked baking soda?

  • It is baking soda that has been baked in the oven at a low temperature.
  • Baking soda has only one ingredient: sodium bicarbonate. When we bake baking soda, we transform sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate – an alkaline salt.

Do I have to bake the baking soda?

  • While you can use regular (unbaked) baking soda to make alkaline noodles, the results won’t be as good as if you were to bake it first. Unbaked soda will still increase the pH of water, but not as much as baked soda.

How do I make baked baking soda?

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C).
  2. Spread one cup of baking soda onto a baking tray lined with aluminum foil or baking/parchment paper.
  3. Bake the baking soda for 1 hour.
  4. Remove the baking soda from the oven and when cooled, store in an airtight container and store indefinitely.

Be careful and do not use your bare hands when handling the baked baking soda or it can irritate your skin.

Click here to make your own ramen noodles at home with your baked baking soda.


More Alkaline Food Trivia

  • Alkaline water of various strengths is used to make foods like pretzels, masa flour, Chinese century eggs, Thai Lod Chong (rice noodles flavored with pandan used in dessert), Norwegian lutefisk, brined olives, some types of pickles, candies and many other things.
Chinese Egg Noodles Made with Alkaline Water
Chinese Egg Noodles Made with Alkaline Water – click here for my recipe

Sources:


How to make baked baking soda as a substitute for Lye Water for a chewier, springier Asian noodle

*Baked* Baking Soda

Course: spices
Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 1 minute
Servings: 24
Author: Ginger and Scotch
Baking your store-bought baking soda in the oven for one hour will transform it into an alkaline salt - making it a great substitution for lye water to make alkaline noodles. In order words - use baked baking soda to make noodles that are firmer, springier, and less likely to fall apart in your soups and sauces.
Print Recipe

INGREDIENTS

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C).
  • Spread one cup of baking soda onto a baking tray lined with aluminum foil or baking/parchment paper.
  • Bake the baking soda for 1 hour.
  • Remove the baking soda from the oven and when cooled, store in an airtight container and store indefinitely.
    Be careful and do not use your bare hands when handling the baked baking soda or it may irritate your skin

NUTRITION

Sodium: 32832mg

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Recipe Rating




27 Comments

  1. Worked like a charm, your steps and pictures made it easy to follow and know you are doing it right. My family loved this.

  2. Hi!
    Why do we have to bake it for 1 hour? Can I bake it for less, say 30 minutes? Is there a specific reason it has to be baked for that long?

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hello,

      The recipe is from Harold McGee’s article in the New York Times. I linked to the article at the end of my blog post. He specifies one hour.

  3. Hi there Sandy, thanks for the tip. I’m about to try this, but unfortunately don’t have any baking soda at home. I was wondering, is it possible to use baking powder for this?

    Thanks & stay safe!

  4. This recipe is spot on. Everyone should try making the noodles, it is very easy. The color and texture brought a smile to my face. I added bean sprouts, cilantro, pea shoots. Three rings of, jalapeño. And chicken broth. This is a must keep recipe.

  5. Ciao ho comprato in Italia, dove vivo, una bottiglietta di acqua lye in Chine Town per fare i noodles però mi sono spaventata perché sulla confezione c’è scritto di non toccare l’acqua alcalina con le mani e non respirare i vapori. Ma se devo impastare a mano come faccio?
    Grazie mille Laura da Milano

    1. Hello and thank you for visiting my blog. I had to use Google translate to read your comment 🙂

      You are only using a small amount of the lye water – 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of flour. You will first be diluting the lye water in water or in eggs (as per my recipe). Once you have mixed the lye water into the the flour with a spoon or fork, you can then handle the dough with your hands. My kids and I do this weekly and haven’t had any issues. Have fun making noodles!

  6. This is just tooo funny!!! Not making fun of it or anything….but I make this all the time for my homemade soap….it comes in the stores also as washing soda….but it is so much cheaper to make. So it was a hoot to me to see it used this way!!! Sounds good tho…gonna have to try!!!

    1. Having a ditzy moment I guess….miss read the temps and didn’t read far enough in the comments!!! Sorry…but still wannna try!

  7. This sounds like a lot of fun, I can’t wait to try it. And my Japanese speaking dad enjoyed learning the etymology of Ramen.

  8. So, I may be confused, but this looks almost exactly like turning baking soda into washing soda. I keep both on hand. If I can just use washing soda, that would make life less complicated. However, I was under the impression that washing soda is non-edible. Am I mistaken?? If this really is just “home-adjusted washing soda,” you might make a note of it. If it’s not, you might make a note of that too, in case of people like me who _don’t_ ask.

    1. I didn’t know what washing soda is so I looked it . It seems like the process of making washing soda is similar to the one I described but washing soda requires a higher baking temperature (450 F instead of 250F that’s recommended here).

      I also read that baking soda that is produced for cleaning (not cooking) has a larger grain and is not recommended for culinary uses. For that and other reasons, I would not use washing soda for making alkaline noodles as the factory production process may not be suitable for cooking purposes.

      If it is too much trouble to bake regular baking soda, then just use it without baking it first. Your noodles won’t be as springy but better than taking the risk of using washing soda.

      1. You said in the previous remembrance that you were eating soapy noodles! Is that where thy e “Alkaline Noodles” came from?

      2. This answers my question. I should have read further before posting. Thank you for the great recipe!

  9. Thank you for such an informative post. I’ve made ramen noodles with your recipe and straight forward instructions – the results were perfect. It’s hard for us to find fresh ramen where we are. Can’t wait to make more.

  10. This is a pretty straight forward recipe that doesn’t deserve the single star rating that was given by someone who is not smart enough to understand its greatness.

    1. wow! I’ve got to try making this. at last I got the idea to mysterous instant pasta. Many thanks to you. keep it up.

  11. A bit annoyed with the recipe. It say 240 gr flour (2 cups) while one cup is 340 gr. Which one is correct? And what is the half cup plus one teaspoon (I assume its the alkaline water).

    1. Hi Hans,

      1) First of all, if you google “flour cups to grams” you will find that the weight for one cup varies considerably – which you already know since you assume that one cup of flour is 340g.

      I have used the flour weights from King Arthur’s website – they are a highly reputable flour company. On their website, it states that 1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 120 g. There are also weight measurements for other types of flour in case you are interested. To keep everything consistent on my blog, I have used 1 cup all-purpose flour = 120 grams for every recipe.

      2) Second, where do you see the reference for “one teaspoon”? I am happy to clarify any questions but have done a search on this particular blog post you are commenting on and could not find any mention of a teaspoon of anything.

  12. Hi Sandy,

    I am about to make the alkaline noodles.- How much baked baking soda do i put in how much boiling water to cooked the noodles. Do I need to add additional salt for taste?

    Greetings from Germany!
    Thuy

    1. Hi Thuy,

      In each noodle recipe, there are instructions on how much baking soda to use for that particular noodle recipe so please refer to the individual blogs posts to find out the exact quantity of baking soda.

      For the amount of boiling water, it’s generally good practice to use a much larger volume of water to noodle ratio so if you are making a bowl or two of noodles, you would use, let’s say, 3 or more quarts of water to boil the noodles. This is so that all the excess flour or starch that was sprinkled on top of the dough (to make it not stick) can be boiled off. Of course if you do not have a large pot, you can still boil the noodles in smaller volume of water, they will just not be as clean of excess flour/starch but will still be fine.

      I do not put salt in my boiling water for noodles (only if I am making Italian pasta) but again, please refer to each individual noodle post as I often mention this.

      Hope this helps!

    2. You put the baked baking soda into the water used to make the noodle dough. You don’t add baking soda to the water you cook the noodles in.

  13. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am opening a small community kitchen and work with young teen. I will share this info with them and hope to ween them off the ready made cheap stuff.