Tag Archives: Bicarbonate of Soda

Making Ramen Noodles from Spaghetti

(serves 3, scalable to however many)
You can change Spaghetti into Ramen noodles. This faux Ramen derived from pasta has got the bouncy texture of and a similar taste / aftertaste to real Ramen noodles. The special ingredient for making Ramen noodles is Kansui, an alkaline mineral water.  What we are going to do here is use Bicarbonate of Soda to duplicate the alkaline effect. Boiling the pasta in alkaline water allows it to absorb more water than usual without getting soggy. Granted the result is not as perfect as fresh Ramen, but it’s close enough if you can’t buy authentic raw ramen near where you live. 


  1. Spaghetti (250g)
  2. Bicarbonate of Soda
  3. Vinegar (white)

Please prepare the soup, meat, toppings etc. ahead of time and have them ready before your begin making your Ramen.


  1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Separately boil some additional water in a kettle for later use.
  2. Add 2 flat t of Bicarbonate of Soda to the pot. This will increase the pH of the water to the necessary alkalinity.
  3. Boil the spaghetti in the pot as per normal. After a while you will notice a few things that are different from when you normally cook pasta:
  4. Firstly the water will really foam up as the Bicarbonate reacts with the starch in the pasta. I included a photo of the reaction so you won’t be shocked when it happens. Anyway, this is why you need a larger pot than usual.
  5. Secondly, the water will become a bit slimy or gooey. This is normal, the same thing happens when you are boiling fresh raw ramen.
  6. Finally, as the pasta cooks it will turn into a deeper shade of yellow than usual, to the colour of ramen.
  7. When the noodles are done they will be a bit thicker than you’d normally expect of pasta because more water has been absorbed. For your first time it’s better to test the noodles by bite rather than relying on sight. You want the noodles to be just fully cooked, not al dente.
  8. When the noodles are cooked, immediately add 6T of a white type of vinegar, like rice or malt vinegar, into the water. Lemon juice should work too. Give the pot a good stir, you will get a second round of foaming as the bicarbonate is neutralized. This will get rid of the bitter taste.
  9. Pour the contents of the pot into a strainer and then give the ramen a good rinse with some very hot water from the kettle.
  10. Your Ramen is now ready for consumption.


  • I wish I came up with this great idea but the credit belongs elsewhere. I came across it in a Japanese website.
  • If you have a choice, buy the smallest guage spaghetti that you can find, i.e. the one with the smaller n number. This will maximize the surface area to volume ratio. In fact Spaghettini might be even better, but I hardly ever see any in supermarkets. I’ve also tried capelli (angel hair), but I found it to be too thin.
  • There is no need to add oil to the pot as the bicarbonate reaction stops the pasta from sticking together. Besides, you don’t want oil to coat the pasta and inhibit the alkali from getting into the pasta..
  • There is no need to add salt to the pot as sodium bicarbonate when neutralized becomes a type of salt.
  • What about the rest of the Ramen? Not to worry, my site now has recipes for all the components of Ramen.
    1. try the Soup Recipe from here
    2. try the Chashu Pork Recipe from here
    3. try the Ajitama Egg Recipe from here

Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Ingredients, Japanese, Pasta, Recipe


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Chinese Style Beef Strogonoff

(serves 3)
This is a fusion version of the Russian classic Beef Stroganoff. The beef is marinated in the Chinese Style using bicarbonate of soda, leaving it extremely tender. You won’t be needing a nicely marbled piece of Wagyu beef for this recipe and more importantly there is no chance to overcook it. When married with the rich taste of sour cream, the end result is a fusion of Eastern and Western (actually East meets Eastern Europe) cuisine.    


  1. Beef Fillet (400g)
  2. Brown Mushrooms (150g)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Sour Cream (1/3 cup)
  5. Oxo Beef Stock Cube (1)
  6. Balsamic Vinegar
  7. Bicarbonate of Soda
  8. Corn Starch
  9. Coriander Seed Powder
  10. Soya Sauce
  11. Brandy
  12. Vegetable Oil


  1. Cut the beef fillet into slices which are as thin as you can manage manually. Cut across the grain where possible. 
  2. Mix the marinate as follows: 1/3 cup water, 1T soya sauce, 2t corn starch, 1t sugar, 1t coriander seed powder, 0.5t bicarbonate of soda, 0.5t salt. Mix the meat in the marinade well and leave it for 2 or more hours. It may appear watery at first but all the liquid will be adsorbed by the meat over time. 
  3. Its now 2 or more hours later. Add 2T or balsamic vinegar to the meet and mix well. You should see some small bubbles as the bicarbonate reacts with the vinegar. This is normal.
  4. Cut your onion into half rings and the mushrooms into thick slices.
  5. Disolve one beef cube in 1/3 cup of hot water in a large bowl.
  6. Pan fry the onions with a dash of oil for about 3 minutes on low heat. Add the mushrooms and continue stir frying till the mushrooms begin to soften. Empty the contents of the pan into the beef stock. 
  7. Put a generous amount of oil into the pan and turn the heat to high. At the same time mix 1T of oil into the marinated meat. When the pan is searing hot, sautée the meat. Make sure both sides of each piece of meat has time on the pan. When no part of the meat’s surface appears uncooked anymore, pour in the stock, onions and mushrooms.
  8. Continue on high heat till the liquid is reduced to 1/3 its original volume, it shouldn’t take long. Add 1/3 cup of sour cream. Simmer on low heat for a further minute before adding 3T of brandy and turning the fire off. Add salt if you fancy, but taste it first. 
  9. Plate with either buttered fettucine or buttered rice, and sprinkle on some black pepper after plating.


  • If you wish to marinate the meat ahead of time, remember that you can’t leave the meat overnight without first adding the vinegar. After doing so, you can even refreeze the marinated meat.
  • If your knife skills are lacking, there are two ways you can get around this. Either have your beef semi-frozen before you begin slicing, or cut slightly thicker pieces and flatten them with a meat mallet.
  • If you wish to understand more about the effect of bicarbonate of soda on meat, please refer to this post.
  • In some places (like Brazil or Hong Kong) you’ll encounter versions which use heavy cream instead of sour cream. Add 2T of HP sauce to the heavy cream to cook this version.

Posted by on February 15, 2012 in A Kobi Original, Main Courses, Oriental, Recipe, Red Meat


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What is Bicarbonate of Soda?

Bicarbonate of Soda is a fine white powder, sometimes labeled as Sodium Bicarbonate or Baking Soda, and often verbally referred to as Bicarb or Bicarbonate. Always keep in mind that, it is not the same as Baking Powder. Tip: it must have the word ‘soda’ or ‘sodium’ or its not Bicarb. Bicarbonate is an alkali (bitter tasting), a substance as you may recall from high school, when mixed with an acid (sour tasting) results in salt and water. So what are the cooking uses of Bicarbonate of Soda?

When you need to make self-raising flour out of regular flour…
Self-raising flour is flour with Baking Powder in it. Baking Powder is Bicarbonate mixed with Tartaric Acid. Both are in powder form and so they don’t react with one another until the flour gets wet. When that happens, the acid and alkali react as described above and the resulting bubbles of carbon dioxide create the raising effect. To make self-raising flour, simply add 1 flat teaspoon of Bicarbonate for every cup of flour. After mixing the batter, you will also need to add lemon juice (I presume you don’t have any cream of tartar lying around at home) to trigger the reaction which infuses your batter with air. From my experiments, it takes 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to fully neutralize 1 flat teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda. Don’t worry, there won’t be a sour taste.

When food is too sour…
Firstly, by virtue of its reaction with acid substances, it can transform something sour into something salty. This is a simple example of what is nowadays called molecular gastronomy. Put too much vinegar into your dressing? Bicarbonate to the rescue. By the same token, when added to canned tomato soup, you get essence of tomato without the sour of tomato. This is a technique used in my Bouillabaisse Soup recipe.

When meat is too tough… Beef Strogonoff
Secondly, Bicarbonate of Soda is a very powerful meat tenderizer, a flat teaspoonful of the powder can tenderize half a pound of meat. Bicarbonate (usually mixed with oil and corn flour to give a smooth texture) is commonly used in Chinese restaurants to marinate pieces or slices of chicken, pork and beef. I sometimes use it when I make Beef Stroganoff, if I don’t have a really good cut of marbled meat. Although the Chinese also marinate entire steaks this way, I do not suggest that you do the same. Be aware, Bicarbonate is quite powerful and even a little bit will leave a bitter aftertaste. This however is not much of a problem as the Bicarbonate can be transformed into salt by adding vinegar to the meat after the tenderizing(1 -2 hours). The best way is to stir in the vinegar a bit at a time using the appearance of bubbles as a guide to the amount of neutralization activity going on.

When you want to make honeycomb…
Bicarbonate of Soda is the secret to making honeycomb, those scrumptious crispy honey bits you sprinkle over desserts like cream chiffon cake. It’s the active ingredient that causes the melted caramelized sugar to foam up before solidifying into honeycomb. One day I’ll get round to posting the recipe.

To put the crackle in crackling…crackling-1000
One less known use of Bicarbonate of Soda’s tenderizing properties is in the making of uber crispy pork skin. Cracking that is made using Bicarbonate of Soda will not get tough once it cools. Recipes for a host of crispy crackling dishes from German roasted pork knuckles, to Cantonese roasted whole pork belly, to just plain baked pork rind snacks, all rely on the secret of Bicarbonate. You have to use a lot more of it for a much longer time for skin, since skin is much tougher and more impervious than meat. The normal technique is to score the skin, then coat it with a layer of Bicarbonate of Soda. The meat is then left in the fridge for a day or two while the connective tissue between layers of the skin is broken down, allowing the skin to eventually fluff up beautifully. You would then scrape the Bicarbonate off and paint vinegar on the skin till the bubbling stops and all the remaining Bicarbonate is neutralized. As with before, you end up with salt, so the skin is automatically salted. With some steaming followed by roasting, you’ll end up with uber crispy cracking.

To make shrimp and prawns plump and fresh…
Compared to regular meat, crustacean meat reacts differently to Bicarbonate of Soda. When prawns are left to soak in an alkaline solution (i.e. 1t Bicarbonate + 1 cup water) for about half an hour, instead of being tenderized the prawn meat will become plump and crisp to the bite(when cooked). You’ll know when to stop the soaking as the meat will appear translucent. Also there is no need to neutralize the Bicarbonate with vinegar or lemon juice, you merely rinse the prawns thoroughly by leaving them under cold running tap water for a while. This is a well-Noodleskept secret of Chinese cooking and why shrimp meat tastes so much better in Chinese restaurants.

When you want Ramen but all you have is spaghetti …
The special ingredient in ramen noodles is kansui, which is an alkaline water. Coincidently Bicarbonate of Soda plus water is also alkaline. If you are interested, I just happen to have the procedure spelled out right here.


Posted by on October 12, 2009 in Ingredients


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