Sunday, July 18, 2021

let's talk noods

So! I made three kinds of noodles, or as the hip chefs and home cooks say, noods. I went from least labor-intensive to most, which meant that I started with the Todd's Kitchen recipe, where the noods are mostly almond flour with psyllium husk and eggs, and everything is done by hand. Now, according to Todd's recipe, the only liquid in the dough comes from the eggs, but I ended up adding oil in an attempt to make the dough wetter and make the pasta less prone to breaking (oil is used in regular pasta, so this isn't as crazy as it sounds). Alas, the result was still a shit show, and thus began a lesson in the uselessness of almond flour when applied to pasta-making. What I ended up with reminded me a bit of sujaebi dumplings, hand-pulled or ripped and adding texture to the soup.

They look terrible. I tried running the pasta through my pasta maker, but that only made things worse. If I were to do this again, I might add a third egg, not oil. Behold:

Despite the awfulness, I forged ahead and boiled the pasta, anyway:

Looks like dog food:

And here it is with a bolognese sauce I'd made from some tomato soup:

Looks pretty gray and nasty. But strangely, the pasta didn't taste all that bad. I'd definitely make this again, but as dumplings for some kind of keto sujaebi. To that end, I'd shape the pasta differently, to the extent that shaping is even possible.

Next up is the paleo pasta. The dough is half almond flour (warning!) and half tapioca flour (also warning), which is very carby and is meant for paleo dieters, not people who are flirting with keto like yours truly. The dough formed a nice enough ball, so I had high hopes that this would turn out like in the video. Well... it did, and it didn't. Behold the dough ball:

Things still looked promising when I flattened the dough out. For the Todd's Kitchen dough, Todd used a knife to cut his noodles, and I think I can see why: the dough was simply too crumbly thanks to the almond flour, so you have to roll it out and knife it. With this paleo dough, it was also suggested to cut it with a knife. I did try running it through my pasta roller first, but the dough kept breaking up, so I bowed to reality, rolled the dough out with a rolling pin, and used a knife to cut thick noodles like in the video. Below is the flattened dough:

And here are the noodles, all cut up. Note that many of the noodles broke when I lifted them off the cutting board to pile them up. This proved to be an omen of things to come:

Boiling noods:

Pasta drained and on a plate. Note how many noodles are broken:

I plated a serving for myself:

All in all, I didn't like the paleo noodles. They initially held their shape better than Todd's noodles did, but then there was the experience of eating them, which was a little weird. I went through three distinct phases while chewing on the noods: (1) I tasted nothing; (2) there was a taste after some chewing, and it wasn't entirely unpleasant; (3) with continued chewing, a very unpleasant, gritty feel appeared (probably the almond flour).

The tapioca flour had the consistency of cornstarch. I suspect that, had the noodles been made of nothing but that, the texture might have been better, but keto people would pay an even steeper price in terms of carbs. Might as well eat regular pasta at that point. As things stand, these noodles were not keto at all, and I doubt I'll be coming back to them. Luckily, I used up most of the tapioca flour with this one recipe, so it wasn't such a huge waste.

So I was 0 for 2 at this point, and all my hopes now rested on the Keto King's recipe (it's not really his, though: as with his keto bread, he got this recipe from someone else). I was actually kind of excited to see how the recipe would work out, given its very different set of ingredients, which included vital wheat gluten and oat fiber. The Keto King's recipe was the most labor-intensive of the three, requiring a stand mixer, which I now possess.

The dough ball formed by the stand mixer looked promising:

As with the other doughs I'd made, this one needed to rest a bit before I could work on it. So I let it sit for thirty minutes, then I flattened it and sent it through my pasta roller. It went through fine until I got down to setting 6. (On this roller, 0 is widest, and 9 is narrowest.) At setting 6, the dough started ripping a little bit, so I didn't dare move the rollers any closer together. Here's some rolled-out dough:

Here's another bit of dough that has been flattened but not rolled out yet:

And here are the noods. They came out pretty well, and they look very brown:

Below, a closeup of the spaghetti. I had to hand-pull the strands apart because they rolled out of the spaghetti roller still fused (which also happens in the Keto King video). I didn't bother hand-pulling every single strand; I pulled pairs of strands. Then after doing the spaghetti, I decided to switch to the fettuccine roller because I knew that would mean less work pulling the strands apart. Closeup:

And a closer look at the fettuccine:

Here's what the pasta looked like after boiling. Not that different, really:

Tired of the spaghetti sauce I'd made, I pulled out a frozen hunk of creamy seafood sauce that had been sitting in my freezer for months. It thawed pretty well, but I added some extra heavy cream and shredded Gruyère to it just to jazz it up. So here's the Keto King's pasta, in a bowl with seafood cream sauce (it could use some minced chives on top):

Finally, I boiled a single batch of spaghetti, thinking I might eat that, too, but in the end, I bagged it up and separately bagged up the remaining piles of pasta. Everything's in the freezer, now. I might take the pasta samples in to work to let my coworkers try them out. Or not. I haven't quite decided. I'm actually tempted to just throw away the remaining Todd and paleo pastas, but as I said, the Todd pasta might be good for a keto sujaebi, so I might still use that pasta. The paleo pasta, on the other hand, is rough enough that I might want to just chuck it. I need to think about this. Boiled Keto King spaghetti:

So today's progression was from least labor-intensive to most labor-intensive, but it was also a progression from least successful to most successful. One lesson learned is that pasta with almond flour is weird and kludgy, and while it can be made to work, the simplicity of almond-flour recipes is undermined by the breakability of almond-flour pasta.

In the end, the Keto King recipe wins hands down. The pasta from that recipe is a plausible replacement for regular pasta in terms of taste, texture, sturdiness, and macros. However, I ended up thinking that, because it's so dominated by the oatiness of the oat fiber, it might actually be better used as pasta in a Korean soup. In truth, it tasted a bit more like myeon than European pasta, so I'm curious to see what sort of keto Korean soup I can make with it.

Although Todd's pasta was the lamest in terms of looks, it didn't taste bad, and as I said, I think the breakable chunks might make for good dumplings in sujaebi. So the big loser ended up being the pasta that looked the best in those videos: the paleo pasta. Not the result I'd been expecting, but I will not be making the recipe again. If there's some way to fry the pasta in flavored olive oil and create crackers or something, I'll be more likely to salvage the pasta I've already made. Even then, the pasta is so carby that it really should be reserved for a cheat day. All the same, while I might try salvaging the paleo pasta I have, I won't be making another batch of it. I'm filing for a divorce from paleo. (And I still don't get how this pasta is in any way paleo-friendly. Paleo is about avoiding processed foods.)

So there's today's pasta adventure in a nutshell. I ended up with interesting noods, and even the bad points of the experience contributed to my learning.


John Mac said...

In my wildest dreams, I've never considered making my own pasta. I have a perfectly fine box of spaghetti already on the shelf. Still, it was fascinating reading the processes you used and seeing the results.

Kevin cooks from scratch so I don't have to! Sorta like walking to Busan...

Charles said...

If you want to make crackers out of your pasta dough, just roll the dough out thin, cut it up, and bake it until it crisps up. I suspect the dough has a lot more oil in it than a typical cracker dough, though, so the end result may be a little different from what you would normally expect from a cracker.

Also, please stop calling noodles "noods."

Kevin Kim said...


It's amazing to see how much effort and brainpower the keto crowd devotes to finding alternatives to foods they can no longer eat. That's the drive behind the making of alternative forms of pasta. Some companies are starting to produce legitimate keto-friendly products, but in many cases, it's still easier to make what you want for yourself.


Heh. Noods. A stroke does funny things to your brain. The term tickles me.

There are people who call blueberries "bloobs."

And thanks for the cracker advice. I'll try that method.

Charles said...

Well, don't expect me to start asking for your noods!

Also, @John: Making your own pasta is actually quite simple, and fresh, hand-made pasta tastes a lot better than the stuff that comes out of a box.