The Easiest Chinese Noodle Recipe: Pasta and Baking Soda


Why Boil with Baking Soda?

Baking soda is a substance named sodium bicarbonate. Its chemical formula is NaHCO3, and when heated, it releases carbon dioxide to become sodium carbonate (Na2CO3).
2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + CO2
Sodium carbonate is a strong base when dissolved in water.
When we make pasta, we do not use basic brine. However, if we make it basic when boiling, it will have the texture and aroma of Chinese noodles. This is the idea behind this boiling with baking soda trick.

Can I Substitute Baking Powder?

Both baking soda and baking powder are used for baking. Both baking soda and baking powder are used as baking powder. So can baking powder be used to boil pasta?
The percentage of sodium bicarbonate in baking powder is about 25%. If that’s the case, you can use four times as much sodium bicarbonate as baking soda, but that’s not really enough.

As shown in the recipe below, I added 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 4 tablespoons of baking powder to 1 liter of hot water.
Comparing the pH, it is hard to tell from the picture, but the baking soda has a pH of about 9, while the baking powder has a pH between 8 and 9.

Baking powder contains a variety of substances other than sodium bicarbonate.
For example, acidic substances such as sodium bicarbonate of tartrate are added to facilitate the production of carbon dioxide. Due to this effect, it is thought that the amount of sodium bicarbonate combined with baking soda did not bring the pH levels together.
Baking powder also contains starch. When you add baking powder to hot water, it will spurt out a foam that is much stickier than baking soda. In other words, it is more likely to spill over.

In case you want to substitute baking soda for baking powder when making Chinese noodles, you will need more than four times the amount. And when boiling, it tends to spill. It’s not a bad substitute, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

How long to boil?

When pasta is al dente, the outside of the noodle is cooked well, but there is still a core inside. If you want the noodles to react well with the sodium carbonate, you need to boil them for longer than al dente.

Boiling time also varies depending on the type of pasta. I usually boil 8-10 minute spaghetti for 13 minutes, which is +3 minutes if you consider that 10 minutes is enough time to boil it thoroughly. However, some pasta has a shorter boil time than others, so let’s say it’s 1.3 times longer.

So, I tried boiling various types of pasta.

From left to right

Bucatini…pasta with holes, boil time 6 minutes according to the bag
Fitachine…flat pasta, boil time 10 minutes according to the bag
Capellini…thin pasta, 4 minutes boil time per bag

I used a ratio of 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 liter of hot water, and checked the texture of the noodles while boiling to determine the best time to eat them.

Bucatini…standard 6 minutes → 8.5 minutes with baking soda, about 1.4 times longer
Fitachine…10 minutes standard → 14 minutes with baking soda, about 1.4 times
Capellini … 4 minutes standard → 5.5 minutes with baking soda, about 1.4 times or less

Considering that this manufacturer’s pasta tends to turn out hard even when boiled in hot water for the indicated time, we can say that the boiling time is 1.3-1.4 times longer.

What Kind of Pasta?

I usually use spaghetti. Spaghetti goes well with dishes that originally use thick noodles, such as chilled Chinese noodles.
Of the pastas I boiled this time, the best was fitcine. The noodles are originally chewy, and became even chewier. It’s like flat Chinese noodles. It seems delicious when stir-fried with vegetables.

The cappellini looks just like thin noodles and looks delicious. Perhaps because the original noodles were thin, it didn’t turn out as chewy as I expected. Still, it was delicious and had a different texture than pasta.

If you use bucatini, be careful. Some of the bucatini still had the hot water with baking soda inside the holes. It gave them a bitter taste. It is necessary to wash them very thoroughly by soaking them in water for a while. The texture became chewy, which is an interesting texture because it is not the shape of Chinese noodles.

Baking Soda Turns Pasta into Chinese Noodle!

This is a very famous recipe, but I’ll include the points I’ve discussed so far.

Turning Pasta into Chinese Noodles with Baking Soda

Boiling pasta with baking soda turns it into Chinese noodles. I thought about how it works and the difference of the noodles.
Prep Time0 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings1 people
  • hot water 1 L
  • baking soda 1 Tbsp
  • pasta 100 g
  • Boil the water.
  • Add the baking soda. The water will bubble violently at first, then settle down.
  • Add the pasta and boil for 1.2 times the time indicated.
  • While the pasta is boiling, check the color and aroma of the boiling water.
  • If the water turns yellow and smells like a ramen shop, you have succeeded.
  • Drain the water.
  • If you want to use them in hot soup, such as ramen, rinse them quickly in hot water to remove any slime.
  • For cold noodles such as chilled Chinese noodles, rinse thoroughly in hot water to remove all moisture.
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