Make Fresh Alkaline Ramen From Scratch!


Non-instant ramen is almost synonymous with high effort. A properly prepared tonkotsu is indeed worth the wait, either in lines outside an Ippudo, or in hours spent steeping pork trotters and chicken carcass.  I'd like to offer a mid-ground between rehydrating deep fried instant noodle patties, and devoting 5+ hrs to "do it proper".

For the signature flavor and chewy texture, kansui ("alkaline solution") is pretty much non-optional. This solution is a combination of sodium bicarbonate and potassium carbonate. I've seen tutorials on baking baking soda in the oven to make it stronger for this purpose. It does work in terms of, turning sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate, thereby raising the pH from 8.4 to 11.6 - basic enough to turn the flour yellow on contact. But pH isn't the only effect relevant here. Potassium and sodium carbonate produce different effects on the noodles: potassium carbonate hardens the noodles, sodium carbonate soften the noodles. Traditionally, the thinner the noodles, the higher the ratio of potassium carbonate used.  

If you're making your own fresh noodles, that bouncy texture has got to be the primary reason. So for best effect, do yourself a favor and order a bottle off amazon, if you don't have access to Asian groceries nearby. It is cheaper in store, but one bottle is enough to make literally 100lb of ramen. It's worth not baking your own baking soda and settle for subpar effect 100 times.

Now unlike the noodle ingredients, the soup is where you have a huge amount of leeway. A classic bowl of Japanese-style ramen soup just requires 3 components: tare, broth, and oil. Tare is the savory sauce, usually soy sauce or miso-based, that adds depth to the otherwise light broth, which is a clear soup made out of chicken or pork bones. Aromatic oil (often with garlic, scallion, or chili) is the finishing touch that really highlights the dish. I made a simple tare with soy, sake, mirin, and instant dash powder. For the broth and oil I simply used store bought chicken broth and garlic oil. Feel free to home-make everything, but the quick soup fits the book too, and for a weekday dinner the store bought stuff is plenty good. The noodle is the star. It's ok to keep everything else simple. 

As a huge fan of Chashu (braised pork belly), I often crave meat with my ramen. I find broiled or torched pancetta makes for a very nice weekday hack. You can find them easily at any deli. It's also pork belly, tied into the same shape. I like to dust my pancetta slices with a little sugar, heat it until surface is caramelized, and then brush it with the tare for the noodle - essentially flavoring it the same way you would if you were slow cooking chashu. I came up with this hacky fix on a whim, but have been doing it repeatedly since. Charred pancetta tastes amazing. It's perfectly tender and very flavorful in its own way. I know it's not exactly the same as chashu, but it is reminiscent enough in appearance and flavor, and every bit delectable in its own way.


for the noodles: (enough for 3~4 servings)

  • 2 cup flour, tightly packed (300g) 
  • 1/2 cup hot water (120ml) 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp kansui

tare: (for each bowl of noodles)

  • 1 tsp instant dashi powder 
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp mirin


  • 1 portion tare
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp garlic infused olive oil

pancetta chashu:

  • 2oz pancetta
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • tare for brushing

other suggested toppings: 

  • minced scallion greens
  • soft boiled egg
  • toasted sesame


  1. add salt and kansui to hot water.
  2. slowly pour water over flour while stirring. try to wet all the flour evenly.  
  3. roughly form a dough with your hand; cover and let rest while you prepare some soup and toppings. 
  4. combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, and instant dashi; microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve. 
  5. sprinkle sugar over pancetta; torch or broil
    until caramelized; brush with tare.
  6. cut some green onions for topping; soft boil some eggs if using. 
  7. divide the dough in quarters. flatten each quarter and pass it through a pasta roller, on the thickest setting. 
  8. tri-fold the dough roll it out again, repeat for ~3 times, or until the dough comes out smooth.
  9. reduce the thickness setting and pass the dough through again, until reaching desired thickness.
  10. pass the dough through pasta cutter.
  11. cook in boiled water for 2~3 min, until they float. 
  12. while the noodle is cooking, microwave the chicken broth for 2 min, or until very hot. 
  13. take out cooked noodles, rinse off surface starch in the sink. 
  14. add tare, broth, oil, noodles, and toppings to the bowl. Enjoy!

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