How to make Udon noodles
Talking about Udon, the most known one is Sanuki Udon from Kagawa District, Japan. Udon is one type of popular Japanese noodles made of mixing wheat flour, water and salt together into a dough, and cut it into thick strips with standard of over 1.7mm in diameter. It seems simple to make, whereas the quality and origin of ingredient used play an important role in influencing overall taste and texture of Udon noodles. Once you have all qualified ingredients, another crucial element is proper temperature to ferment the dough. Basically, there are two types of Udon noodles which are cold Udon and hot Udon. Besides the uniqueness of noodles shape and mouthfeel, the best part of Udon is easy to accompany with any broth or soy source, and tasty.
Besides types of flour for bread and cake, there is one particular and standarized flour called ASW (Australia Standard White) with 780 B.U.(Brabender Unit) to make pure Udon noodles. Basically, Udon flour should be 750 B.U. which is much higher than bread and cake flour's B.U. The higher B.U. means the more chewy the noodles. However, the drawback of high B.U. is the lack of the scent of flour. For Sanuki Udon, however, they make Udon with local flour from Kagawa District with lower B.U. but full of flour scent.
In order to mix flour into dough, the best water for making Udon dough is soft water. Due to less mineral in soft water, it is easy to bring out flour's characteristics and its scent.
Instead of using common salt, it is better to mix with natural sea salt. With seasonal changes, the proportion of mixing sea salt and soft water must be different in order to control the hardness of the dough to make it best. For example, the proportion of salt and water is one to three during the summer while it is one to six during the winter. In spring and fall, the proportion is one to five.
After kneading, the dough will develop moderate elasticity of the gluten and become smooth. However, traditional Japanese Udon dough is not kneading by hands or electric mixer, but by foot with whole body's strength. After that, the next step is to place the dough under moderate temperature to ferment according to seasons, which is the key success element of Udon dough.