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ISO: Potassium Carbonate

I got the sodium carbonate, need the potassium carbonate to make ramen noodles from the Momofuku recipe.

Searched all the chinese supermarkets and bulk barn without success.

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  1. Stumbled across your post, don't know your area but do have an idea. If you have a home brewing supply place nearby, try with them, as potassium carbonate is used to raise pH in beer. You may also have luck with a compounding pharmacy such as The Medicine Shoppe.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      thx JK. never thought of a pharmacy but good idea!

      now to find that darn 00 flour in Oakville.....

    2. the book only mentions one source for the alkali salts, http://bio-world.com/ and I bought both from here (smallest quantity available: 500g). when they arrived, the sodium carbonate was clearly marked with language to the effect of, "not for use in food products" (this was not mentioned on the site). the packages are also marked "ACS grade." I've emailed bio-world but am not really expecting a reply. I don't know if momofuku actually gets their alkali salts for ramen from here or not.

      sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate are both on the US FDA's GRAS list for food use (Generally Recognized As Safe), but the particular item in question must also be manufactured / processed in a cGMP facility (currently Good Manufacturing Practice, wonderful acronyms) to be officially safe for food use, or something ... I'm just learning all this through google.

      One alternative may be kansui powder, which is a mixture of alkaline salts used for making noodles.

      Or maybe it's ok to go ahead and use the alkali salts I've purchased from bio-world, haven't decided yet. Would be interested in hearing about other people's experiences.

      4 Replies
      1. re: zap

        well, I actually bought my Sodium Carbonate from a chinese grocery store, it's actually used in a few chinese baked goods. it's chemically different from baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate (Na2Co3 vs NaHCO3). sodium carbonate is I assume safe (although its colloquial name "washing soda" sounds downright toxic!)

        I think if Potassium carbonate is used in home brewing, that should be food-safe.

        Haven't been able to locate Kansui anywhere in Toronto, I don't know what the proportion of Potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate is. The way David Chang wrote his recipe led me to believe that he experimented with different ratio and the one in the recipe gave the best results.

        I'm not sure about using the Bio-World chemicals in food, the standards of manufacturing may be different for food-grade vs chemical grade chemicals even if they are the same chemical i.e. I would not use Bio-World NaCl to season my steak. ALthough I'm sure in the miniscule amounts used it should be ok, but you never know. which leads to a more intriguing question, what does the NYC Health Department think about Momofuku manufacturing noodles using non-food grade sodium carbonate from Bioworld if that's what the restaurant is using?

        I wonder if anyone else on this board has been crazy enough to attempt the recipe.

        I plan on making the noodles and using instant noodle soup base powder to see if there is an improvement in taste..... forget making the pork broth....

        1. re: doctorandchef

          i have to brush up on my chemistry.
          i can possibly get you potassium bicarbonate (not potassium carbonate). its pretty cheap. something like $20 for 500 g

          1. re: doctorandchef

            Please refer to http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6090...

            I came up with a noodle recipe (based off research articles in cereal journals) last year. Since then, the Momofuku book was published, and the recipe they use is similar. My controlled experiments (and my palate) preferred a different ratio of the alkaline salts, but that's easy enough to test for your own preferences.

            I'm a trained chemist. I'd use the >99% purity Bio-World chemicals (which come with data sheets of analysis results) over a $3 baggie of some white stuff sitting next to the tapioca starch in the Chinese market. Any day.

            1. re: Joe MacBu

              Very impressive ramen research Joe. You should try food product development.

        2. so I made the ramen from the potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate I purchased from http://bio-world.com/ and didn't suffer any ill effects ;) this of course is no guarantee of safety, but it worked out for me. I ended up having to add a fair amount more of water than was called for in the momofuku recipe to make the dough come together and when it did it was very dense and difficult to work (I don't know if this is typical, never having made ramen before). But I was able to put it through the pasta machine and the ramen came out very well. I found that in the course of setting the pasta machine on thinner and thinner settings, it was better to skip a notch rather than go to every single notch - the noodles when finally cut ended up a bit thicker and chewier that way and much more closely resembled those served at the restaurant.

          2 Replies
          1. re: zap

            Try letting the dough rest for a while (15min) after you initially mix it, but before kneading. It's called an autolyse step if you want to look it up. After kneading, you could try resting it for another 15-60 minutes. This allows the dough to relax and makes it easier to roll out.

            1. re: zap

              The thicker dough was most likely a result of using Canadian wheat, which has higher protein, and stronger gluten than US wheat. adding less flour is the easiest way to make an adjustment when using US recipes. In a manufacturing setting I usually blend some soft wheat flour in with the hard wheat to lower gluten strength. If you compensate by adding water only, then you tend to dilute your recipe, specifically the flavouring(salt) and functional ingredients (the carbonates). and yes, don't forget to let the dough rest covered.