Making Udon Noodles

Make sure you have the following stuff first….

Ingredients and equipment Amount Note
Flour Medium-strength flour 700g Serves approximately 7
Salt 40g Little more during summer time and little less during winter time
Water 280cc Tap water is fine
Worktable Dining table or Kotatsu table (a low Japanese style table with the small heater that accompanies the table) at least 70cm X 70cm in size. If you do not own such a table, a board of linden plywood 90cm square can be used. Such boards are available at a general store. Place one side of the plywood against the wall or pillar when working and it will stay in place.
Large bowl Ceramics or wooden bowls are the best, however, stainless or aluminum bowls will be fine. Please have the largest bowl you have ready.
Rolling pin Wooden rolling pin of 2 to 3cm in diameter and approximately 1 meter long. If you do not own a wooden rolling pin, a piece of polyvinyl chloride pipe is fine. Wooden rolling pin made from wood with strong scent such as Douglas fir is not suitable. The scent will transfer to the Udon noodles.
Cutting board Larger the better. Please have it completely dried.
Knife Use a knife with cutting edge not turned up (such as a kitchen knife for cutting vegetables) Kitchen knives with turned up cutting edge will be hard to handle and will result in poor cutting surface.
Small saucepan and chopsticks Make salt water in the saucepan beforehand. Any container larger than 500cc is fine. There is no need to heat.
Large plastic bag Thick plastic bags such as 10kg rice bags. Please wipe the inside clean before using.
Medium sized plastic bag No.8 (approx. A4 paper size) Used for temporary keeping.

*Let’s begin*

Kone (mixing the flour with salt water)

ani_neri

1. Put all the flour in a large bowl and add about 90% of the salt water that you have prepared beforehand.

2. Quickly mix with your bare hand without making lump.

3. Open your hands wide and make circular motion with your arm as if rubbing against the inside of the bowl. When doing so, if a little amount of flour slips away from between your fingers, you are doing great.

4. Still mixing, add the rest of the salt water little by little.

5. When the salt water is evenly soaked into the flour, and the whole thing is like rough powder in the size of the uncooked rice, the mixing is done.

6. Gather all the mixture to the center of the bowl making something like a hill with sand. Add pressure with the palm of your hand and make it into a disk shape. In doing so, be careful not make cracks on the surface or the surrounding edges.

Ashibumi [1] (Stepping on the dough with your feet)

1. Cut open the 10kg rice bag and wipe the inside surface clean.

2. Gently place the disk shaped dough onto this sheet and fold it over the dough to cover.

3. Here the ashibumi (stepping) begins. Beginning stepping from the outer edge will prevent the dough from cracking.

4. Place your feet T shape and slowly circulate around the dough from outer edge towards the center.

5. After the dough spreads out to 30cm to 40cm in diameter, roll the dough from the edge as in making norimaki sushi (vinegared rice rolled with a sheet of dried laver). Make a tight roll and do not let air inside.

6. Place the rolled dough inside the sheet once more and step on it to make rectangular shape. After you are done, roll it from the edge again as if making norimaki sushi.

7. Place the dough inside the bag once more and lightly step on it. If you can feel the dough push back, you are doing very well.

Nekashi (Leaving the dough as it is)

ani_neka

Leave it for about 1 hour during summer time. During winter time, leave it for about 2 hours or leave it inside the kotatsu for 1 hour. Inside the Hama (dough), the hardened retiform structure of the gluten will regain the elasticity while leaving the dough due to “Maruke” (circular shape). This process will speed up in higher temperature with lots of moisture.

Kari Maruke (the first shaping the dough into a circle)

karimaru

This is a process in which the dough is shaped into a circle, which is also called "Heso-dashi" (heso means a navel in Japanese). This is the most difficult process in making Udon noodles, so the beginner should be careful not to make cracks on the surface, and when the dough is shaped in circle, you could pass this stage. You would have to go through this process hundreds of times before making good circular shape like professional Udon noodle makers.

  • 1. Lightly punch the approximately 15cm edges of the Hama (dough) with your fist.
  • 2. Fold the dough in two by bringing the upper left corner to the lower right corner.
  • 3. With your left hand, press the left half on the dough with pushing forward motion.
  • 4. Turn the dough 30 degrees reverse clockwise, and fold in half by bringing the upper left corner to the lower center.
  • 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for 3 to 4 times and the dough will gradually shape in circle. This process will also bring more elasticity to the dough and will keep its shape.
  • 6. Place the dough in the medium sized plastic bag. Let all the air out of the bag and tie the opening.

Nekashi (Leaving the dough as it is)

Honmaruke (The main shaping of the dough into circle)…this is very difficult to do.

maruke1

1. Lightly press on the edge of the dough with your palm so that the dough will be the disc shape approximately 20 cm in diameter.

2. Fold the dough in two by bringing the upper left area to lower right area.

3. Press on the left half of the dough with your left hand in pushing forward motion.

4. Turn the dough 15 degrees reverse clockwise and roll it by pulling the upper portion towards you.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for another 3 to 4 times. The dough will gradually be shaped into a spiral shell shape.

6. Take hold of the right edge of the spiral portion with your right hand. Use your pinky finger and your palm.

7. Like turning on the accelerator of motorcycle, twist the dough and pushing your right thumb into the center. (This step is hard to grasp without actually seeing it with your own eyes.)

8. Make the dough into shape by using your left hand as if you are drinking tea in a tea ceremony and by rubbing the dough.

9. Change the angle little by little and repeat steps 7 and 8. maruke2


10. When the dough looks like the picture on the right, you are doing great.

11. Place the dough in the medium sized plastic bag, let out all the air and tie the opening.

Nekashi (Leaving the dough as it is)

Ashibumi [2] (Stepping on the dough with your feet)

ashi


In the same way as Ashibumi [1], step on the dough until it spreads out to about 30cm to 40cm in diameter. When stepping on more than one Hama (dough), spread a little flour on the surfaces of the Hamas and stack them so that they do not stick to each other and you can do the stepping at once. The top Hama would take more time to spread out, so it is suggested that you occasionally change the top-bottom position of the Hamas to obtain even size. After the stepping process is done, wrap it in the plastic rice bag to keep from drying and leave it for 1 to 2 hours. During winter time, up to this process can be done in one day, leave it overnight, and the finishing can be done on the following day.

Nekashi (Leaving the dough as it is)

Nobashi (Rolling out the dough)

Now let’s begin "Nobashi (Rolling out the dough)" and "Houchoukiri (Cutting with knife)" which are the real pleasure in making hand-made Udon noodles.

The first step: Kakudashi (shaping the dough to square)

kado

1. Wipe the work board clean and have it dry completely.

2. Sprinkle some flour on both top and bottom surface of the Hama (dough). If you sprinkled too much, pat off the extra flour.

3. The side with Heso is the back side. Place the dough with back side up on the table.

4. Place the rolling pin at the center of the Hama and putting pressure on the pin, roll the pin away from you. Turn the Hama 90 degree and repeat the process until the Hama becomes square in shape.

The second step: Rolling out the square edges

ani_noba

1. Place the rolling pin on one of the square corner and roll up the Hama (dough) onto the rolling pin.

2. After rolling up the Hama on the rolling pin, bring the Hama and rolling pin towards yourself.

3. Move both hands towards the center and push the rolled up Hama to the other side while putting your weight on it. Repeat it for 2 or 3 times.

4. Turn the Hama and rolling pin 180 degrees and bring it towards you.

5. Beginning from the place closest to you, spread out the Hama.

6. Move both hands towards the center of the rolling pin, put pressure on the rolling pin with your weight and roll it to the other side. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

7. Turn the rolled up Hama and rolling pin 90 degrees counterclockwise, and move it to the left side of the table.

8. Spread out the Hama from left to right.

9. Repeat steps 1 to 8.

The third step: Rolling out the sides

hennobasi

1. Place one side of the Hama (dough) in front of you and place the rolling pin near the edge.

2. Place both hands in the center slowly separating your hand to the left and right side while rolling up and rolling out the Hama. When your hands reach the far left and far right, the Hama should be rolled up onto the pin.

3. Turn the Hama 180 degrees and bring it towards you.

4. Spread out the Hama from place closest to you to the other side.

5. Repeat step 2.

6. Turn the rolled up Hama and rolling pin 90 degrees counterclockwise and place it at the left side of the work board.

7. Spread the Hama from left to right.

8. Repeat steps 1 to 7.

9. When the dough is evenly thinned out to about 3mm in thickness, rolling out process is completed. If there are thick areas, spread out that area to even thickness.

Houchoukiri (Cutting with knife)

Houchoukiri (Cutting with knife)

ani_hocho

Be careful not to cut your fingers.

1. After the Hama (dough) is rolled out to the thickness of a thin cloth, spread it on the table and sprinkle with lots of flour. Extra flour can be patted off later.

2. Fold it like a folding screen.

3. If you do not own Komaita (thick wooden board to hold down the dough when cutting), cut from the right edge of the Hama in the thickness of 3mm.

4. If you do own Komaita, tightly hold the knife, and place the edge of the knife perpendicularly to the Komaita and push down on the knife vertically with force.

5. When the knife hit the cutting board making "thumping" sound, slightly tilt the knife to the left and pull it up as rubbing against the side of the Komaita.

6. Repeat 4 and 5 until you finish cutting all the dough.

Tags: