What Are Ramen Noodles Made Of?

Like most college students, my first foray into feeding myself involved a lot of microwaveable food. Perhaps the best of the bunch is ramen; hearty and delicious, it would often serve as breakfast, lunch, and dinner on those particularly lazy days. And while the whole combination of broth, noodles, and seasonings work in perfect harmony, those noodles are something special. What are ramen noodles, exactly? Let’s slurp up some answers. 

What are ramen noodles made of?

The traditional ramen noodle recipe is pretty simple, starting off with wheat flour, salt, and water. But there is one special ingredient: kansui. This is a type of alkaline water solution that contains both potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda. 

The alkalinity of kansui encourages gluten formation and ultimately gives the noodles their springy, chewy texture. Additionally, when the kansui is mixed with flour, it creates the characteristic yellow color ramen noodles often have. 

How are ramen noodles made?

The process to make ramen noodles is similar to any other type of pasta. The ingredients are combined to form a dough. The dough is left to rest, allowing for more gluten production. It’s then rolled out thin, cut into long, skinny strips, and boiled until tender. Voila, you got ramen noodles!

Instant ramen noodles require a few added steps. After the dough is rolled out, big-time machinery will cut and form the noodles into the desired size and shape—that iconic wavy spring. Next, the noodles are dehydrated, creating the crunchy brick of noodles that some people like to eat on its own. 

They are then packaged, ready for your dorm microwave. And if you’re feeling fancy, you can dress them up with your own favorite toppings.

Who invented ramen noodles?

The Chinese have been rocking the noodle for centuries. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the Japanese borrowed the Chinese “lamian” noodle and changed its name to ramen, creating their own broth-based noodle dish with them. 

The instant ramen craze did not begin until 1958. Japanese businessman Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods, created the very first instant noodle brand called Chikin Ramen, as well as both Top Ramen and Cup Noodles.

Are ramen noodles gluten-free?

The traditional ramen noodle is not gluten-free. However, there are alternative versions out there made from rice, potato, and other gluten-free flours. You just have to do a little digging.

About the Author

Luke Field

Luke Field is a writer and actor originally from Philadelphia. He was the former Head Writer of branded content at CollegeHumor and was also a contributing writer and actor to the CollegeHumor Originals cast. He has extensive improv and sketch stage experience, performing both at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and with their Touring Company. In addition to writing, he also works as a Story Producer, most recently on season 4 of Accident, Suicide, or Murder on Oxygen. Keep your eyes peeled for his brief but impactful appearance as Kevin, the screaming security guard, in the upcoming feature The Disruptors, directed by Adam Frucci.

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