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Related: What does kansui do to dough in noodle making?

I'm looking to make my own 拉面-style noodles. I've read up a lot about kansui and making your own kansui with a powder mix of sodium and potassium carbonates. I've also seen some recipes that substitute kansui powder with baking soda.

Can I use baking soda to substitute for kansui? If so, in what proportions? If not, what other common ingredients can I use to substitute?

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(Taking random guesses here) You could try McGee's baked baking soda. That'll actually get you sodium carbonate. Or alternatively calcium hydroxide ("lime"), which is sold with home-canning supplies; I've found it at the local Walmart before. Be careful with these, of course. –  derobert Nov 2 '12 at 6:50
It looks like it should be OK to substitute. See NY times and Chowhound, no idea on proportings –  Stefan Dec 17 '12 at 7:22
@derobert you should make that an answer as an alternative to the traditional kansui –  Brendan Dec 30 '12 at 14:26

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Harold McGee tackled alkaline noodles a while back. He found that baking baking soda actually changes it from sodium bicarbonate to sodium carbonate. This is a reasonable substitute for the kansui called for in alkaline noodles and can be substituted 1:1 in recipes. The noodles may not get AS yellow as they would with both alkalines present in kansui but it's a small price to pay for not having to hunt down that ingredient.


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I'm not sure about the exact proportions, but nearly every recipe I've seen written in English just uses baking soda. This page seems to have a good looking recipe for ramen that uses baking soda, so maybe base your proportions off of it. 拉面 recipe

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I "baked" baking soda for about one hour, low oven. It works miracles with my pasta. 2 cups plain flour, 1 level tablespoon gluten and 1 level teaspoon "baked baking soda" ( which has become sodium carbonate. Fabulous.

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Suggestion, kansui makes fabulous spaghetti and noodles ( even some Italians add baking soda to their pasta mixture). Since kansui is virtually unavailable I learned to put dry baking soda in a tray in a low oven for an hour or so. It changes its chemical structure to sodium carbonate which is simply more alkali. I use 1/4 teaspoon per cup of regular all purpose flour and the results are outstanding. 2 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon "kansui" 1 Tablespoon gluten.
2 eggs plus enough water to make a large crumb mixture in the processor. No need to knead any more. The Kitchen Aid pasta roller does all the work. I find that resting periods ( just a few minutes) are very helpful. For noodles I use no. 4 on the KA, for spaghetti no. 3 A wonderful all purpose mixture, very firm, good taste. Also good for pot sticker wrappers.

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Since kansui is an ill defined substance and nothing more than a highly alkaline substance it is easily made at home. I have been doing it for years. Just put a quantity of baking soda ( sodium bicarbonate) on a tray ( dry, of course ) in a low oven for an hour or so. Voilà. It works like a charm. My basic pasta recipe is 3 cups semolina, 1 LEVEL teaspoon "kansui", salt and water. Fabulous. Salt is optional, for the three cups semolina I use a bit less than one cup water. If the semolina is very coarse grind it first in a blender (I use my K-Tec mill) but if fine no processing is necessary. Life can be easy.

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