Grape-stomping seems romantic enough with the beautiful Italian woman lifting her skirt, smiling and stomping away. But I sure hope her feet are clean if I have to drink that wine. Sauerkraut is stomped (ok, that’s supposed to be with a wooden utensil, but somebody must have used their feet for it to get that name). I do confess, to washing Logan’s feet and letting him stomp a batch of sauerkraut in the 15 gallon crock a couple years ago…
And, Japanese noodle dough is kneaded with your feet. My prehistoric theory is that men went out to hunt while women prepared food and found that they could get more work done faster stomping away rather than by wearing their arms out. My modern day theory is that udon is for Sunday dinner. You mix the dough before the noon pregame show. You stomp the dough during the first half of the 1pm Colts game. This season provide many occasions to stomp like a temper tantrum throwing child. You let the dough rest until after the 4:30pm game is over. You cook and eat before Sunday night football starts. Not sure that udon and football qualify as a classic pairing, but work with me here.
My new silicone baking mat and rolling pin
I have thoroughly enjoyed Ratio by Michael Ruhlman and thought I would look for the same approach to udon. Luckily, I found a post that talked about the proper ratios. I also learned a bit about flour along the way. Udon is typically made with a low protein flour, so the bread flour and AP flour in my kitchen would need a little cutting to be suitable. This is some good engineering math meets chef stuff.
Udon flour is 8-9% protein
All purpose flour is 10-12% protein
Bread flour is 14-16% protein
So how to turn high protein flour into low protein flour? Cut it with cornstarch. I found a 6-serving udon recipe that called for about 360g of flour. I wanted a 3-serving version for a no leftovers dinner, so 180g of 8-9% protein flour is what I needed.
180g * 8.5% / 11% = 139g of AP flour … I rounded to 140g
Add in 40g of cornstarch to get to the 180g @ 8.5% and poof! I have udon flour! Isn’t math fun?!
Back to the recipe ratio… salt at 5% of the flour weight and water at 42-43% of the flour weight per Hiroko’s post. If you have made dough for bread or pasta before, you’ll notice that’s a lot of salt and not very much water. For my 3-serving recipe, that worked out to 9g salt and 76g water. Since I don’t have an 1ml graduated beaker, I just weighed my water along with my dry ingredients. Random trivia: 1ml water = 1 g water and a pint’s a pound the world round!
The dough looks more like gravel than dough
The dough does not come together in the KitchenAid. It does pack sort of like a snowball, though.
Packed dough resting in a bag for about 30 minutes
The next step is for the feet. And I do recommend feet. This is some seriously tough dough.
Black socks are nicer to look at than my feet
I think i read somewhere that stomping and rolling 6 times would do the trick. I lost count and just leisurely did this through the first half of the football game.
Rolled dough ready for another stomping
It really does look smooth and shiny and dough like when you are done with all the hard work. The next challenge is to form it into a ball to rest. I couldn’t figure out how to use my feet and my body weight to form a ball, so it took a little elbow grease to get this step done.
I lightly oiled the dough and let it rest for a few hours (recipes said 3-4 hours with a little oil under a towel). This is dry dough and seemed to soak up the oil and still dry out a bit, so next time I’ll probably wrap it in plastic instead of using the towel. After resting, I rolled with my new rolling pin which was awesome. You can flatten a tough dough much easier with that style rolling pin. Once flattened, I rolled it and sliced it into noodles.
you can see the rough surface from the dough drying out while resting
After my starch bomb ramen experience a few weeks ago, I went with a pot of salted water for the noodles and a separate pot for the soup. This worked well and the udon worked better than my last attempt at ramen (look for a post in the future on ramen – I will succeed!).
This soup was half chicken stock and half beef stock with a spoonful of miso added to sautéed white onion, garlic and shiitake mushrooms. I made teriyaki beef and topped with scallions and cilantro to complete the meal.