The NW Wheat Marketing Center held its annual Advanced Asian Noodle Course this February at their headquarters in the Old Alber’s Grain Mill. The old mill is located along the banks of the Willamette River not far from downtown Portland. The Marketing Center represents all the growers of soft white winter wheat grown in the Northwest region of the United States.
The Center not only markets and sells the wheat throughout the world. They also do all the testing of the wheat crop for the growers and do the research and development in formulating food products for their customers as well.
Soft white winter wheat is used in noodle and flat bread applications because of its lower protein content, as compared with hard winter wheat or other Mid-west varieties. Lower protein means lower gluten development levels during mixing. This makes the dough’s ability to trap carbon dioxide gas during proofing much lower than highly developed gluten dough’s can. However this trait makes the soft wheat perfect for noodles and breads that don’t need to be leavened.
Asian Noodles are becoming a worldwide phenomenon. The “Ramen” type noodles are convenient, easy to store, easy to cook up and offer less developed countries a way to feed people at lower cost. The 4 day class draws food scientists from various companies from all over Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. The R&D people that attended this last noodle course were all from Africa.
Not only do they learn to make different styles of Ramen noodles. They also learn about flavoring systems for the spice packet that’s included in every noodle package. The SPI Group’s presentation was on the Ohly yeast extracts used to boost flavor profiles in these spice blend.
It amazes me every time I do this presentation! Many food scientists from around the world know so little about using the flavor boosting power of yeast extracts to enhance all forms of flavors – including meat, vegetable, cheese, dairy. Not to mention lifting overall flavors in the spice blend!
However, once they go through the control vs. test demos that were offered at the presentation, they all agree that it is beneficial to use yeast extracts in their flavoring system. Ramen noodles are popular around the world – I noticed that that the people at this course had different flavoring profiles in mind, specific to the country they represented.