Noodle Therapy: Making Kalguksu

There is something therapeutic about handling dough. Especially, smooth, supple dough. I love making bread and baking, but our oven recently broke. Ergo, I had to think of another way to get my hands into some flour and let out all my stress on a squishy dough-ball.

Kalguksu, literally meaning “knife noodles” is a dish that consists of handmade wheat flour noodles cut with a knife usually with a clear broth (most popular soup base are clams).
I’m actually not a big fan of clear soups; I much rather prefer a broth with a punch of spice and flavor. But I really enjoy the chewy elastic kalguksu noodles, and I happened to have leftover broth from a chicken stew I made the night before, so I decided to knead my own handmade noodles.

Compared to, say, Italian pasta, there’s much more kneading involved, but what I love about kalguksu is that all you need is a few ingredients, a bowl, a knife, and a flat surface and you’re all set. All you need to give the noodles is a little love and attention, and they will be perfect. The imperfect roughly cut noodles are perfect in their own little way.

So, to begin. Serves two.

You will need 150 grams of flour, a teaspoon of salt, and 100 grams of water. Simple, right? You also need one more important ingredient:

DSC_0268Potater starch. Critical for a elastic, tasty little noodle.

Put all of your dry ingredients into a bowl, sans the salt. Dissolve the salt into the water, make a well in the flour, and pour in the liquid.

(2)DSC_0270Use a fork and slowly swoosh the liquid into the flour, little by little.

(3)DSC_0272Start using your hands and pull together the dough. Liberally sprinkle a flat surface with flour and start kneading the dough. If it’s looking a little dry, add more water. If it’s a little too sticky, add in some more flour. If your dough comes together without a problem, then you’re set. Start kneading the little ball vigorously.

(4)DSC_0273Your dough will be pretty fugly at this point. No worries, sooner or later after a couple of kneads the gluten starts working up and become smoother.

(5)DSC_0274Now after twenty to thirty minutes, your arms and hands will start to ache. But the dough is still not ready. It must be completely smooth and stretchy. Take all your stress, and squeeze and mold the dough ball. You’ll be surprised at how “at peace” you will feel after a kneading session.

(6)DSC_0275When you can no longer knead, and the dough looks to be pretty smooth, wrap the little ball in some plastic wrap and leave it for about 30 minutes to set.

You can leave the dough for more, but I would advise it to be put to rest for at least 30 minutes.
After taking the dough out, punch it a few times and then start rolling it out.

(8)DSC_0277Now I made a mistake when I started rolling the dough out. It was really elastic and stretchy, so the rolling pin wasn’t helpful getting it rolled out thin. I would advise putting it in the fridge for five to ten minutes. The dough hardens and becomes easier to roll out, just like pastry dough.

Bleh my dough was too thick, but I rolled and cut it anyways. Get one end of the dough at the bottom, and fold it up until you get a long strip of folded dough. Make sure you flour the dough liberally before you roll it up, or else the noods will start sticking.

(10)DSC_0280As you can see, my noodles were a bit on the thick side. I had some extra time, so I took each noodle and made them thinner by squeezing them with my index finger and thumb.

(11)DSC_0281As a result, my noodles turned out a bit like ugly fettucine. Well, we’ll just call my noodles “rustic.”

(12)DSC_0282I actually like the way they turned out.

(13)DSC_0283I pre-boiled my noodles to give them a little head start before putting them in my chicken stew broth diluted with water and re-seasoned with soy sauce. Pre-boil the noodles for about five minutes. The stew has chicken, potatoes, carrots, and onions. The broth is seasoned with soy sauce, chili flakes, mirin, sochu, and a little fish sauce. Delicious on a cold day. Perfect to revamp with a little noodle action.

(14)DSC_0285The broth is nice and spicy, with root vegetables that have sucked up all the soup and are so savory. The noodles also thicken the soup a little, making it a little bowl of molten happiness on a cold day like today (-7 degrees celsius, probably colder because of the wind).

(15)DSC_0286I added chopped up long green onions. Let the noodles seep up the broth for about five minutes. After the green onions are cooked, serve it up!

(16)DSC_0288Enjoy while molten hot. I burned my tongue, but it was so worth it. The noodles are soft and smooth, but with a nice bite. Enjoy in any leftover broth or soup.

The noodles will last for a couple days in the fridge, so you can make a batch and store them in air-tight containers.

Well, I hope to catch up on more blog posts, since I haven’t really posted anything for the last six months. So heads up for a long overdue post on Hong Kong eats.

Until next time, good luck in the kitchen!


2 responses to “Noodle Therapy: Making Kalguksu

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