The official 2019 udon noodle sensory evaluation program is underway at AEGIC, as Western Australia and Japan celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the unique noodle wheat segregation.
Since 1989, 13 highly-trained Japanese noodle specialists have visited Australia to help assess unreleased wheat varieties that have been purpose-bred for Japanese udon noodles.
AEGIC Wheat Quality Technical Markets Manager Dr Larisa Cato said sensory evaluation was a core pillar of the special noodle relationship between Western Australia and Japan.
“AEGIC runs the sensory program in collaboration with the Japan Flour Millers Association,” she said.
“Australian breeding companies submit their advanced, unreleased noodle wheat varieties to the panel to see if they’re up to scratch for the discerning Japanese market.
“We mill the wheat samples into flour and then make the noodles in-house here at AEGIC before putting them through rigorous assessment for quality.”
A visiting noodle expert from the Japan Flour Millers Association is with AEGIC for a month this October (2019) to help with noodle sensory evaluation.
Dr Cato said sensory assessment was largely about mouthfeel and appearance.
“The perfect udon noodles should have a ‘mochi mochi’ mouthfeel,” she said.
“Mochi mochi is a unique balance of softness and firmness, combined with good elasticity and a slight stickiness.
“As for appearance, udon noodles should have a creamy, bright slightly yellow colour which is stable, so noodles made today will look similar tomorrow.”
Dr Cato paid tribute to Dr Graham Crosbie, the WA Department of Agriculture cereal scientist who successfully lobbied for the noodle wheat segregation back in 1989.
“Building on pioneering research by Jack Toms and others, Graham recognised that there was a rare opportunity to build a unique, high-value market which would benefit not only Japanese consumers, but WA growers as well,” she said.
“Without Graham’s vision, the highly successful and mutually beneficial udon noodle relationship between WA and Japan may never have happened.”
Industry leaders from Western Australia and Japan gathered in Perth on 7 October 2019 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Australian Noodle Wheat (ANW) segregation.