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Making Hand-Pulled Noodles

Chinese

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#61 Will

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 12:56 PM

A few thoughts:

1) You want a pretty stiff dough. For most kinds of handmade noodles, but especially for hand-pulled noodles, I think you want an alkaline solution to give the noodles some "stretch", as well as a chewier consistency. Some of the recipes on youtube may not mention this, but I really think that this is likely to be important. Mugwort ash (penghui) is one traditional way to provide this, but the most commonly available solution will probably be jianshui (kansui in Japanese); the bottle will probably say "Lye Water", and will be either potassium carbonate (possibly buffered with sodium bicarbonate), or sodium hydroxide. If you can't find it locally, you can probably order some online, or you could try mixing food grade lye with water. With a recent batch of noodles (we didn't pull them; just cut them), we used about 1 tsp of lye water for ~ 2 C flour; I think you'd want to use a bit more than that. I have made pretty stiff doughs in our Kitchen Aid (a lift-up Pro 600); however, my wife usually kneads noodle dough by hand. You don't actually need to knead it as long as you would for, say, bread. I've heard of adding in the "lye water" after kneading, but most recipes suggest just mixing it with the water used for noodle making. Even if it doesn't help with pulling, the alkaline solution will make the taste and texture better.

You could try 2:1 flour:warm water as a starting point, or even slightly stiffer than that, (with a tsp or two of salt and a tsp or two of lye water).

2) Rest the dough in the fridge for some time before pulling. At least half an hour, but ideally 2-3 hours.

3) I think this video shows the pulling method pretty well. It's in Mandarin, but most of the process is easy to understand just from watching the video.

I believe the alkaline solution in this is borax or some other powdered product.

Personally, I'd suggest rolling out the dough and making hand cut noodles first. These will also taste good, and will be a lot easier to make. We haven't tried making pulled noodles at home, though I'd like to experiment with it sometime.

I think flours with hard wheat are preferred; I've seen different recommendations as to whether you should use pastry / cake flour or higher gluten bread flour, but it makes sense to me that there should probably be at least some bread flour in the mix.

Edited by Will, 03 January 2012 - 01:00 PM.


#62 dcarch

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 01:27 PM

There are many videos and recipes out there. I have not seen recipes that really worked, including in the first video. Notice that he cannot pull the noodles as fine as in the typical Chinese pulled noodles with his recipe.

I don't remember anyone here has done it.

I don't remember having seen anyone done it successfully in other food forums.

I have tried many different ways, I have yet to be able to pull very thin noodles.

dcarch

#63 Will

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:09 PM

There are many videos and recipes out there. I have not seen recipes that really worked, including in the first video. Notice that he cannot pull the noodles as fine as in the typical Chinese pulled noodles with his recipe.

I don't remember anyone here has done it.

I don't remember having seen anyone done it successfully in other food forums.

I have tried many different ways, I have yet to be able to pull very thin noodles.

I think it has more to do with practice and "know-how" vs. recipes. The basic dough / method is very simple, and even taking different types of flour into account, isn't that complicated. Most of the folks pulling noodles in restaurants (and even some home cooks) do it often enough to get it down, and they make it look easy in the videos because they've had a lot of experience and / or an apprenticeship. So, especially without the benefit of hands-on training, it's going to take quite a bit of practice and experimentation before you can successfully pull it off at home.

As mentioned before, I definitely don't claim to be able to hand-pull noodles, but I don't think it's out of the reach of someone who has the patience / determination. However, quite good results can be had by making hand-rolled noodles (shou gan mian; 手擀面).

#64 dcarch

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:27 PM

"----As mentioned before, I definitely don't claim to be able to hand-pull noodles, but I don't think it's out of the reach of someone who has the patience / determination. ---"

I am not talking about the skills involved, which I can understand the need to practice. I am talking about the dough recipe. The many dough recipes I have tried, they were not strechy enough to make one single long noodle. They always break.

I see the making of pulled noodles mostly just for fun and showmanship, not about taste, much like making pizza, it's a lot of fun if you can throw/spin a good size pie.

Otherwise I can use my two pasta makers.

dcarch

Edited by dcarch, 03 January 2012 - 02:29 PM.


#65 Magictofu

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:52 PM

I've spent quite some time trying to make these noodles (see my avatar) without great success. I am now convinced that the way the dough is kneaded maters a lot. I was told by many that the gluten network in your dough need to be aligned and that the dough had to rest just long enough to allow for proper hand stretching.

Good luck and please report back!

#66 runwestierun

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 03:12 PM

I have tried Chef Tomm's recipe and it didn't work for me. If you look at his video, you will see that his noodles break early on, and they are quite varied in size.

I tried using the recipe from the young man in Emily_R's post, too, and that didn't work. I've tried kneading the noodles in the KA and by hand. I am wondering if the key is a special Chinese low gluten flour. I wish I could find my notes on this. I remember being frustrated by not being able to find the right flour. I also couldn't find the right basic (pH) ingredient because I couldn't translate it from a video I found. I went home with my tail between my legs.

#67 dcarch

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 03:22 PM

I have tried Chef Tomm's recipe and it didn't work for me. If you look at his video, you will see that his noodles break early on, and they are quite varied in size.

I tried using the recipe from the young man in Emily_R's post, too, and that didn't work. I've tried kneading the noodles in the KA and by hand. I am wondering if the key is a special Chinese low gluten flour. I wish I could find my notes on this. I remember being frustrated by not being able to find the right flour. I also couldn't find the right basic (pH) ingredient because I couldn't translate it from a video I found. I went home with my tail between my legs.


Exactly. Very different feel of the dough if you watch the Chinese demonstrations of pulling noodles. Their dough will not break even the noodles are pulled Angel-Hair thin.

dcarch

#68 eternal

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 04:14 PM

And my noodles were always sticking together, even when adding quite a bit more flour than originally given. I don't care as much for them to be angel-hair thin. I actually like the chunkiness of some of the others, like you might get at Xian Famous Foods.

#69 runwestierun

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 04:39 PM

I've heard it takes 5 years' practice before you can be considered a skilled noodle puller in China. Maybe this isn't something we can master in an afternoon...

#70 Will

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 05:09 PM

And my noodles were always sticking together, even when adding quite a bit more flour than originally given. I don't care as much for them to be angel-hair thin. I actually like the chunkiness of some of the others, like you might get at Xian Famous Foods.

I've never been to Xi'An Famous Foods, nor do I know which style of noodles from there you're trying to make, but I have been to a Shaanxi (i.e., 陕西, not 山西) place here in California. I believe the "hand-torn" or "hand-ripped" or "belt" noodles are made differently from normal pulled noodles, so you may want to look around for a description of how to make this style if that's the style you're going for. Notice how these are actually stretched one at a time.

http://en.wikipedia....ngbiáng_noodles
http://www.youtube.c..._Th49TuM#t=174s

(it's about 2:50 in; the embedded link doesn't seem to start at the right time)

Keep in mind also that the 'liang pi' (the chewy noodles served with sesame sauce and chili oil) at Shaanxi places are not pulled at all, and in many cases aren't even made with wheat flour. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liang_pi

This explains some of the other considerations, and discusses how some types of noodles use an alkaline additive and others don't (Shaanxi noodles do):
http://www.tinyurban...les-noodle.html

As they explain, the exact "twirling" time may depend on the weather and humidity, and it's this type of thing that takes a while to develop a sense for - just as with making bread. I can give you the perfect bread or noodle recipe, but it's insane to imagine that you will get the same results as someone experienced, even if you have the same raw ingredients and the same method. If you see a novice trying to pull noodles even with properly made dough, they will probably have problems with noodles breaking or not stretching properly (as seen in the video linked to at tinyurbankitchen.com, as well as in the Chinese TV video above). So while the dough and flour are important, I believe that the experience handling the dough, as well as the experience needed to make small adjustments as needed, are the most important things.

One of the big things to take away from this, and other demos, is that the first round of twirling the entire batch of dough is part of the kneading process, and not the noodle pulling itself. Some of the demos don't show this part. After you do that part, you then break off a little piece and begin pulling noodles from that.

Edited by Will, 03 January 2012 - 05:11 PM.


#71 eternal

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 05:42 PM

I think you might be right. i'm mixing the two by mistake. Having said that, I'd like to learn how to do them both. Thanks to the heads-up on the biang biang noodles.

#72 Jon Tseng

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 05:56 PM

Mum used to try to do this when I was younger. It's really really hard to get right.

Definitely one of those things that falls into the "lifes to short..." category. Just find yourself a good cheap northern chinese restaurant and order the beef noodle! ;-)

J
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

#73 Magictofu

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 06:03 PM

I remember a previous EG thread on the topic:

Here

#74 jo-mel

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 08:22 PM

The one thing about the years of practice is that not only do you get the hang of the actual pulling, but you can ''feel'' the dough. Your hands can sense when the dough is right for pulling and then how much flour is needed when you are pulling.

One time in China, I watched a chef make them and just as the whole process was coming to an end, one of the noodles broke. He was so upset, that he put it all down and started over again -- successfuly. And happily!

#75 ptau

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:39 PM

lol...these vids are too funny...do you guys actually make your own noodles now after watching these vids? they look so time intensive

Edited by ptau, 16 January 2012 - 08:42 PM.

Find free printable noodle Coupons here

#76 Ader1

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 10:55 PM

Hi,

On my current visit to China, I've had a few lessons on making La Mian Noodles. When making them, the restaurant owner I get lessons from uses a powdered chemical which is added to water and then added to the noodle dough. It changes the dough's constitution and makes it more stretchy. I've heard that baking soda may be used but my teacher said that it's no good. What he uses is something called 'Peng Hui' which I've been told isn't that healthy (to say the least) to consume.

My question is, what would the noodle restaurants in say the UK or the US use as a noodle agent? I know there are at least a few in London with Gordon Ramsay the famous British TV chef challenging one to a noodle making competition. It's all on Youtube but unfortunately I cannot view it here due to government restrictions. I would be very grateful if somebody could help me crack this one....or maybe 'Peng Hui' is exportable to the UK, US, Europe etc?

I found a ling with some related material dating back a few years on this sit:

http://forums.egulle...er/page__st__30

Thanks.

#77 Will

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 11:38 PM

Take a look at this more recent thread:
http://forums.egulle...pulled-noodles/

Penghui is ground mugwort potash. I don't think it's unhealthy when used properly and in small amounts (as with lye or other strong bases, you wouldn't want to consume it directly, or have much direct skin contact with it undiluted), but to answer your question more directly, "lye water" (which can actually be a couple of different types of alkaline substance) is probably the most readily available substitute, at least here in the US. You don't have to use an alkaline substance to get noodles which can be pulled, or which have "Q", but it does up the Q factor a bit, and I think it may add a subtle taste as well.

I think Borax is sometimes also used, both in noodles and as a tenderizer, but according to Wikipedia, that's péngshā (硼砂). Not the same peng as pénghuī (蓬灰), though both are second tone. Unlike penghui, I'm pretty sure that using Borax is illegal in some places, though I'm not qualified to speak on the relevant legal or food safety issues.

Edited by Will, 29 May 2012 - 11:43 PM.


#78 Shalmanese

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 12:20 AM

In the US, it's called Kansui and you can buy the Koon Chun brand at most asian markets. A bottle looks like this. Alternatively, you can make baked soda from baking soda which will give you sodium carbonate but not potassium carbonate.
PS: I am a guy.

#79 Ader1

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:53 AM

Thank you both for your replies. Anybody know if pénghuī (蓬灰) is available outside China eg the US?

#80 rod rock

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 08:52 AM

Interesting explanation on those videos from Will's post. That guy have explained on good way!

"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live."

 

Franchise Takeaway
 

 


#81 Will

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:30 AM

Thank you both for your replies. Anybody know if pénghuī (蓬灰) is available outside China eg the US?


I would assume so. The area where I live probably has it somewhere -- I haven't seen it, but haven't gone out of my way looking for it either. The place in NY mentioned by this article supposedly uses / used it, but I don't know if they import it, or obtain it locally (you don't need much, and obviously, sneaking a few packages in wouldn't be hard).

http://www.nytimes.c.../26noodles.html

#82 Ader1

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:32 PM

Thank you Will. That's a great article. I havn't been able to watch the videos as the internet is pretty slow here. I've got another noodle pulling lesson in a couple of hours. It really is quite difficult and added to that the communication problem since I have only a smattering of Chinese. It's also very hot and humid here. I'll let you guys know how I get on.

#83 kleinebre

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 08:49 AM

I just wanted to thank Sazji and Luke Rymarz for their inspiration.

Sazji: your detailed account about your noodle making adventures have been very helpful to me. Luke, thank you for providing a base recipe that has been verified to actually work by others. Even if this recipe didn't work for me (I just can't find the same flour here in the UK), Luke - You've also been an inspiration by letting the world know it took you over 20 tries to get the dough right. I respect your determination. Myself, I've only tried 13 times so far.

It would be great if any of you that are making hand-pulled noodles now could confirm if my dough has the right sort of consistency. It seems to stretch more or less OK but not as evenly as I'd like. I'm thinking part of it might be due to my poor technique (which I can live with as it's something that I can work on).

As a lot of work seems to be going into breaking down gluten (thanks for the tips guys) so I figured one might as well start by keeping the initial gluten content down. My base recipe with which for me so far has resulted in the greatest degree of success is:

1 cup regular, white wheat flour (label states 9.1% protein. If you must know- it's the economy brand of the local supermarket);
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup warm (60°C) water (close enough to the 31% of moisture that Luke uses!)

Mix and knead for a few minutes, cover and leave to rest in the fridge for a few hours. Re-knead and start pulling.

Pulling and twirling (alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise) seems to help quite a bit to make the strands stretch more evenly. If after about 15 minutes the strands keep breaking on the first pull, add a bit more starch. If the dough seems too runny, use a bit more wheat flour. If you add flour or starch, after adding it, keep folding and pulling until the dough is uniform again.

However, I'm finding that when pulling before the dough is ready, my strands tends to thin out in the middle a bit. As a result, after pulling and folding a few times, the noodles get quite thick on one side and quite thin on the other. The window of time in which the strands pull evenly seems to be quite short.

I've avoided corn starch due to the non-Newtonian fluid thing that it does (but perhaps it would actually help?) Other than trying different kinds of starch, any suggestions on what else could be done to make the strands stretch more evenly or to extend that window?

Edited by kleinebre, 22 July 2012 - 08:51 AM.


#84 kleinebre

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:47 AM

Picture of try 13: Nice effort, but ended in disaster (and never made it into boiling water as I didn't flour this try).

Posted Image

#85 kleinebre

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:52 AM

Replying to Mark's query upthread, "how many food use geometric progression?"

Two words: Puff pastry.

#86 Ader1

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 08:24 AM

The Chinese use High Protein Flour.

#87 liuzhou

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 10:10 AM

The Chinese use High Protein Flour.


Do you have anything to back this up?

It is nonsense.

#88 Ader1

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 12:33 PM

Are you suggesting that I am lying?

This is what I was taught when I was in China. The best noodles are made using flower with Protein levels above 12% . I am not at my computer now but I can give you a list of the names of the flours they use or rather believe are the best to use. This comes from information I received from people who emanate from Lanzo.....which is the home of La Mian. I've watched Lukerymarz 'make' 'noodles' and he's nowhere near creating what they should be like. I'm not sure if his recipe is any good. I may take a look at it this week when I've got some Lye.

#89 kleinebre

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Posted 29 July 2012 - 03:02 PM

I basically don't speak any Chinese, but I've gone as far as using Google Translate to translate my queries ("la mian dough recipe") to Chinese (拉面面团配方), then searching Baidu (the leading search engine in China) for that.

http://www.tfysw.com...525/lamian.html seemed a promising link with a full explanation but only does one strand at a time rather than forming lots of strands via geometrical progression. The query 拉面面团配方面筋温度 ("la mian dough recipe gluten temperature") was another one I tried, hoping to get more technical detail. http://blog.sina.com...a70100umaf.html seemed to offer that sort of detail, kindly translated by Chrome. After getting used to the idea that the word "surface" actually has to do with the dough/flour, this seemed halfway usable to draw some conclusions:
  • For the real thing, higher protein content seems to be recommended;
  • Desired target temperature for mixing the dough would be at around 30°C;
  • Flour-to-water ratio 2:1; (hey, where have I seen that before?) - this also explains why to start with warm water or cold water, depending on season, to maximize gluten formation;
  • The article suggests a resting time of about 20 minutes
  • "Surface, water, salt, alkali ratio: 1:0.5:0.01:0.01. 100 g surface (=flour), 50 g of water 1 gram salt, 1 gram alkali."

There's more there which you're free to have your browser translate for you, but here's probably the most interesting translated section of the above page:

5 reasons for failure

1. the dough sticky hands, may be due to the poor quality of flour or too much water, or the Punta gray is too big.
2. the dough placed on the collapse of the frame, probably due to poor gluten quality, short settling time, weakening
the high enzyme activity, or add too much water or salt too little, or too hot or placement time too long; The flour mill is too small, damaged starch content is too high.
3. Place [of] the flour fermentation, probably due to the high temperature is too high or place too long, or flour, enzyme activity, or infected with bacteria.
4. The fourth is the dough feel ribs, the original because of the dough is low or poor quality of gluten or less salt, the dough will not pull out, or the Peng gray by adding less or dough is too hard, it could be flour.
5. boiled off, because the pot not open when the water or the water too few noodles for a long time not float, glued to the bottom of the pot or rod obsolete on the mixing, or poor quality of flour or Punta gray add too much.

Edited by kleinebre, 29 July 2012 - 03:05 PM.


#90 liuzhou

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 12:14 AM

Google Translate is hilariously inept at translating Chinese. I'd be very sceptical. Especially on numbers and weights. It gets them wrong all the time.





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