Gluten Does NOT Need Kneading
Here’s what I found out. I had somehow assumed that bread had to be kneaded and gluten could not be produced without kneading. However, kneading bread is not for making gluten. You can make gluten without kneading. We knead because we want to make bread faster.
This means that many foods that we take for granted do not need to be kneaded at all, don’t they? For example, udon.
Making Udon is Hard Work
Kneading udon is hard work. Have you ever seen a video of an udon chef stepping on the dough? Even if you make it at home, you need to put the dough in a bag and step on it with your feet to make the gluten stronger. This is a lot of hard work.
I Cannot Knead Udon
Normally, medium-strength, all purpose flour is used for udon. It has a good balance between the ease of kneading the dough and the noodle texture.
Again, we only have strong flour in Finland. If you use strong flour, you will get too much elasticity during the kneading process, and it will be much harder to knead and stretch the dough enough to form gluten. When I made udon, I kneaded the dough until it was stiff. But I was disappointed to find that the udon was not firm at all when boiled.
You Don’t Need to Knead Udon
I love udon, but since I learned that I could not make it well, I did not eat it very often. However, I realized that gluten can be made without kneading, so I immediately tried to make “Udon Without Kneading”.
I’m sure you won’t understand the surprise until you try it. I was really impressed that such a glutinous udon could be made just by letting it rest.
You don’t need to knead udon to make it. It’s okay.
No-Knead Udon Noodles, No Foot Steps, Just Wait
- strong flour or all purpose flour 200 g
- salt 6 g
- water 100 g
- potato starch
- Electronic scale
- Plastic bag (Ziploc)
- Silicon mat
- Rolling Pin
- Put water and salt in a plastic bag (*1). Use an electronic scale to measure accurately.
- Shake the bag to dissolve the salt.
- Put flour (*2) into the bag.
- Mix the water and flour thoroughly in the bag. Do not touch the dough with your hands, mix it all in the bag.
- At first, mix the water and flour by rubbing the whole mixture.
- When clumps of flour begin to form, rub to mix the powdery and watery parts. Mix carefully, paying attention to any dough in the corners of the bag or stuck to the bag.
- Look at the surface of the dough to make sure there are no powdery bits left. Press the powdery part into the dough with your fingers, or fold the dough and put it inside.
- Remove the air from the bag, seal it, and let it rest in the refrigerator. Gluten will form during this time.
- From after 6 hours ore more, fold it once every few hours.
- Let it rest for at least 12 hours. I recommend at least 24 hours, but you can let it sit up to 48 hours.
- Sprinkle flour on the work surface.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on the work surface.
- Cut the dough into two portions to make the process easy.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is thick enough to fit in the pasta machine.
- Put flour on the dough and roll it out with the pasta machine. If the dough is too sticky, add flour as needed.
- Once stretched, fold to fit the width of the machine and stretch again.
- Fold again and stretch the dough to the thickness of the udon noodles. 4 (1.8 mm) or (1.5 mm) is recommended for Atlas 150.
- Cut the dough into good long pieces, about 30cm in length.
- Sprinkle the dough with potato starch and cut with a cutter. I recommend using a fitcine cutter.
- Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough.
- When it becomes somewhat thin, fold it once and stretch it again.
- If you have enough energy, fold and stretch again. If the dough is too hard to stretch, skip this step.
- Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1.5 to 2 mm.
- Sprinkle the entire dough with potato starch and fold it to a width shorter than a knife.
- Use a knife to cut the dough.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the noodles, not all at once, with loosening them up.
- Stir with chopsticks to prevent them from sticking to the bottom.
- Boiling time varies depending on the thickness of the noodles. Taste the noodles after a minutes to be sure. The firmness is important, but it is also easy to tell if the salt has been removed from the noodles.
- Put the noodles in a colander and cool them down in cold water.
- If you want to make hot udon, warm the noodles in hot water after cooling.
You should be able to make quite a large amount at once. I have tried up to 500g, about 6 servings.