• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

Soup

Making Hand-Pulled Noodles

219 posts in this topic

I had my noodle fix this week. Once at the Chinatown Express in DC china town, where I had noodle soup with roast pig. The other was at a korean Ja Jang Mein place in NOVA. I had Ja Jang Mein.

They were both good and excellent and had the hand pulled noodles in common. As I watched the noodle maker streching and tossing the noodles, I wondered if I could do it.

Have any of you made noodles by hand by the streching method (not via pasta machine or cutting with a knife). I would appreciate if you could share the recipe and experience. I'm hoping to give it a try....It just can't be easy as the people I was watching seem to make it.

Soup

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is not easy. A (Chinese) friend and her husband have been running their own restaurant for over ten years, and even they still can't manage it properly.

The following is a combination of tips from her and from a guy that ran a stall in Shanghai making only these pulled noodles (called lamian by the way) who I questioned closely a few years back.

Use white flour (I don't know what type), mixed with water and no other ingredients. Knead the heck out of it and then knead more again. Leave to rest for several hours before trying to pull them.

And don't count on being able to get a meal out of the ones you're practicing with. They will probably end up on the floor rather than in you cooking pot for the first few attempts! This is the voice of experience. :smile:

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From the recipe never tried:

To make the noodles, roll the dough into a long cylinder. Rub sesame oil over. Grab both ends of the dough. Twist the dough, and then pull it out, stretching your arms apart. Fold the dough in half. Continue stretching and folding the dough until it forms fine noodles.

Those six simple sentences describe a process whose complexity is beyond my ability to fathom. I admire so profoundly the chefs that make hand-pulled noodles; I simply cannot imagine it. If anyone on eG does this, he or she will earn my undying awe.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The candy that I import is made using a similar technique, though sugar confection is finicky in different ways than wheat: sugar confection can melt from too much handling, wheat is more elastic. But both must be stretched as evenly as possible to avoid premature breakage.

There's a video on my web site that shows the basic process. When I was given a chance to try this with Mr. Wong last Christmas season, the specific spiral motions of the hands were quite important both for accomplishing the task and for creating a rhythm and pace. I got a little more confident as I went along, but Mr. Wong scolded me a lot for not moving fast enough. (Moving too slowly will cause the sugar to get stickier and melt, requiring more cornstarch and producing a pastier or uneven result.).

I'm not sure I'll be able to replicate the candy myself without adult supervision, but since I'm even less an expert on the wheat version: Is oil the only thing separating the strands or does one dust with flour along the way?

My Chinese neighbor in Germany when I was a starving student there used to make hand snapped noodles, which are using a similar oil-covered rested dough but a little less finicky. He made fat thin noodles which were served in soup.

From the recipe never tried:
To make the noodles, roll the dough into a long cylinder. Rub sesame oil over. Grab both ends of the dough. Twist the dough, and then pull it out, stretching your arms apart. Fold the dough in half. Continue stretching and folding the dough until it forms fine noodles.

Those six simple sentences describe a process whose complexity is beyond my ability to fathom. I admire so profoundly the chefs that make hand-pulled noodles; I simply cannot imagine it. If anyone on eG does this, he or she will earn my undying awe.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Notice no one's stepped forward yet to say they can make hand pulled noodles!

The guy I used to watch making them in Shanghai kept the kneaded dough covered in a generous amount of flour. No oil was used at any point. This could, I guess, be for reasons of economy rather than taste or workability of the dough.

When a customer ordered a serving of noodles he would cut off a section of dough, roll it once in the extra flour, then pull. So no extra flour or oil after that initial point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have enrolled at the Shaolin masters of hand pulled noodles temple. After I pass certain rites of passage such as transporting two buckets of water on a stick accross my back up a hill 100 times without stabbing my torso with the knives tied to my arms to prevent me from lowering my arms, cause ya know it has to be extra hard, I will be taken into the inner sactum of the masters of hand pulled noodles.

I will provide a full report with photos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have enrolled at the Shaolin masters of hand pulled noodles temple. After I pass certain rites of passage such as transporting two buckets of water on a stick accross my back up a hill 100 times without stabbing my torso with the knives tied to my arms to prevent me from lowering my arms, cause ya know it has to be extra hard, I will be taken into the inner sactum of the masters of hand pulled noodles.

I will provide a full report with photos.

:smile:

I am a disciple of the Drunken Fist kung fu style, myself.

Oh no wait, I meant drunken sloth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry no pictures...

Well, I took a shot. I tried making hand pull noodles with the direction. I got to the pulling stage no problem. However, when I pulled (simulating the actions of the people I've seen do this) it didn't exactly make nice long noodles. I could get two pulls and sometimes three but the "strands" would break. I didn't think something so thick would break apart so easily. Also the strands were not even. There were thick parts and thin on the same strand and from one strand to another. More times than not it would break closer to where my hands were holding the dough, near the end.

I wish I could discribe the dusting my kitchen got with all the flour. After a few attempts, I gave up. I am going to try again. I think maybe I should work the dough more and definitely add a bit more water. BTW, this is amazing upper body work out. I don't know how those people make noodles all day using this method.

Soup

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry no pictures...

Well, I took a shot.  I tried making hand pull noodles with the direction.  I got to the pulling stage no problem.  However, when I pulled (simulating the actions of the people I've seen do this) it didn't exactly make nice long noodles.  I could get two pulls and sometimes three but the "strands" would break.  I didn't think something so thick would break apart so easily.  Also the strands were not even.  There were thick parts and thin on the same strand and from one strand to another.  More times than not it would break closer to where my hands were holding the dough, near the end.   

I wish I could discribe the dusting my kitchen got with all the flour.  After a few attempts, I gave up.  I am going to try again.  I think maybe I should work the dough more and definitely add a bit more water.  BTW, this is amazing upper body work out.  I don't know how those people make noodles all day using this method. 

Soup

Not sure whether this is a ? or a solution! But wouldn't bread flour be easier with the extra Gluten, having just come from a thread talking about Pasta and noodles! I understand that originally they wouldn't of used strong flour but now?


Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, this is an old thread but as soon as I saw it I had to run home and try it! :biggrin: The recipe seemed a bit fishy though; maybe it's my flour but it seemed like a lot of water. Also the resting time (30 minutes) seemd awfully short; I did a bit of research on the internet and other sites gave times ranging from 2 to 8 hours. I've helped make thrown yufka (phyllo) several times (but not the final throwing process mind you, they wouldn't let me near carefully-prepared dough!) and it seems a similar quality is required in the dough; that it stretch evenly without breaking. If the dough isn't right, it doesn't matter how good your technique is, it will just not work. Here there is a long vigorous (exhausting) kneading, followed by a couple of hours of rest, followed by an "elbowing" where they hit the dough forcefully with the elbow and forearm, without actually kneading it again, then it rests further, and is finally made into preliminary rounds that rest once more before it is finally opened by a throwing process.

I tried it with a flour that included baklava as the uses, but there is a big distinction here between "home" baklava and börek and those made by the pros, and I know the flour the pros use is not readily available in grocery stores. Anyway, the dough seemed very soft and sticky; but I managed to keep it together with quick kneading. After 30 minutes and another kneading it wasn't nearly ready to stretch, so I let it sit another hour. Still resisting, so I did a really violent kneading, and then it came to a stage where it practically flowed. I managed to get a few pulls but the strands immediately reunited, even with oil. Trying it with flour gave a little better results but like Soup, I had them stretching unevenly and breaking, even when I let them stretch on their own accord and just "kept up" with them. (Or perhaps you have to keep ahead of it?) I did manage to get one bowl of passable if uneven noodles, that tasted like way overcooked ramen, so I'm going to try it again with a little less water and better flour.


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Second attempt. Got another brand of flour. Made a slightly stiffer dough, using only 1 1/2 cups + of flour, kneaded longer, let it rest 30 minutes, kneaded again, still had it pulling back, so this time I let it rest about 2 hours, and it did relax quite nicely. But once again had even fairly thick strands ripping, which tells me again that there's still an issue with the dough. The fact that my kitchen is very cold also may have something to do with this! I decided to leave it all night. This morning I tried again, and wow, what a difference! The dough actually stretched, and fairly evenly this time. The trouble was that it was pulling back again; this I think is the result of the flour that got mixed in on the first couple pulling attempts; it also affected the ability of the dough to hold together. Even so, I ended up with something edible, if a bit thick:

After three pulls. You can see a little bit "bunchiness" for lack of a better word, in the dough. This tells me that it has gluten that is not completely developed/relaxed and that there's going to be trouble.

MVC-821S.jpg

At four pulls I started having the predicted trouble sad.gif but they were getting there.

MVC-822S.jpg

I also found that at this stage, you really can't afford to be putting them down and messing with your camera. I need an assistant!

I dusted these with more flour, took the ends stretched once again; I'll admit to taking some individual ones and coaxing them out as well. But at least I could coax them, which was a lot more than I could do the first time.

Here's the result after boiling:

MVC-824S.jpg

Next time, I'm going to try another long knead and secondary kneading, perhaps just a tad more water (but not as much as my first attempt) and let the dough rest all night in a warmer place before attempting any pulls.

One thing that would help: somebody who has actually seen this process in action, how long do the chefs take on each pull? Do they shake as they are pulling or it just a long smooth movement?


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trying to re-visualize it in my head, I'd say that each pull is about 4-5 seconds to bring it out to a length where both arms are stretched out as far as you can take them.

And it's usually shaken when pulling it out, though I have seen one instance (and one instance only) where the guy was not shaking the dough, but just pulling smoothly.

What was the type of flour you were using on the second attempt?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hand-pulled noodles are amazing, but not something I would try at home without the appropriate supervision! In April I was in Xinjiang, western China, where the Uyghur people virtually live on a hand-pulled noodle dish called laghman (I wrote and photograhed article on Uyghur food in last month's Chile Pepper that mentions and shows both laghman and hand-pulled noodles, buy the mag or download a PDF of the piece from my my website.) Those guys are really experienced and can whip, swing, stretch, pull and twish huge blobs of dough into pencil-thin noodles in minutes! I read afterwards that laghman noodles have oil and salt, but they looked and tasted like plain egg noodles. For the recipe in my article I give a laghman recipe, but recommend that people go out and buy udon noodles; the taste, size and texture are almost identical, and no crazy pulling necessary!

Austin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hehe, I live in Istanbul, I can't go out and buy udon, and I have nobody to supervise me... Besides, why miss an opportunity to reinvent the wheel? biggrin.gif But I got it this morning! It's all about preparing the dough. Okay, technique is important and I'll work on that, but here's the thing - with a "normal" kneading as we do bread, it doesn't work because the gluten only relaxes to a certain point, then siezes up. This is a good thing when we are doing bread or (if you are ambitious) phyllo; it will reach its limit and hold its shape. With noodles we want to really break down the gluten. I called my yufka-making friends (now in Austria...) and it was helpful and not helpful. Turns out the long rests they gave the dough were more a matter of convenience and not so much of necessity. They knead it well, let it rest a half hour to 45 minutes, then give it an "elbowing" before forming preliminary rounds that are relaxed once more. I got this to work last night, and threw some halfway decent yufka (though if I had had professional baklava dough it would have been better). But it didn't work for the noodles, they would always reach that point where the dough would sieze and stretch no further, or even pull back.Not wanting to throw away my batch, I wrapped it and left it overnight. The next morning, I tried again, still no dice. So I tried a different kind of kneadin: I pulled the piece oblong, doubled it, rolled a bit oblong again, then gave a sharp twisting pull, doubled it again, repeated ad nauseum. After a few minutes of this, a big change took place - I noticed that gradually the dough began to pull more easily and smoothly. It took about 4 or 5 minutes. After a bit it got to a point where I could stretch it out full arm length in about 5 seconds. It also stretches *very* uniformly.I also found that it can get *too* relaxed, where you can't keep up with it.I started practicing with small pieces (say, a bit larger than walnut sized) and used flour to separate them rather than oil to start. Here is one successful result:

MVC-850S.jpg

You can practice a lot; the dough can actually take in some flour for several times before it gets too stiff because you haven't actually added that much. After practicing some more I tried it with oil; and here's the result from a similar sized piece of dough:

MVC-851S.jpg

After you do this several times, try it with larger pieces..Some notes:

1. When you take a piece of dough to work with, you will need to pull it a few times to get it into form. At first it will be a bit stiff. There is a "sweet" point where it will both hold its shape but stretch easily as well. You want it to be at a point where you have to actually pull it - at that point it will hold its shape. If you overdo it, it gets almost "runny" and you will find yourself trying to keep up with it. Also, when it gets this soft, the noodles will tend to stick together. This is especially important when you are using oil to keep them separate!

2. If you practice with oil, you will notice that each time you re-knead the dough, it will first sieze a bit then relax, but relax more and more with each try.

3. How I pulled: Take a piece of dough, roll it out to a cylinder. Grab the very ends (don't grab too much or you will end with a big lump at one end) and draw out. If you are right-handed, bring the right end to the left hand and loop it over the left middle finger. Run your right hand between the two halves thumb down, then with the left hand, unite the two halves and take them in your thumb and forefinger. Stretch with the palms up, repeat the process as many times a you want/can. ;)

The next problem is boiling them! Once again, using flour is easier, because the noodles don't stick together as much; if you have a successful pull you'll see the noodles holding themselves separate. I think it's a good idea to practice with a pot of boiling water with this as well, starting with small amounts. The noodles must not be stuck together or you will have long ridged bands instead of noodles! If you try and separate them after they are in the water with a fork, they will just break because the first thing the dough does in hot water is to stiffen up for a bit. In a minute or so they will relax.I haven't been very successful with getting the oiled noodles to separate; my dough may have gotten a little soft. I'll get myself some really high-gluten flour and try it again. I'll also have a friend with a camera take picturs because when you are pulling a big bunch of dough you can't be taking time out to futz with a camera!


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What kind of flour: From the second to fourth attempts (third attempt was pretty much like the second), I was using a typical store-bought flour here, which is equivalent to a normal bread flour in the US. It seems the issue was more with dough preparation than flour, though I do want to try it with a baklava (very high-gluten) flour to see if it makes a difference.


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It occurs to me (rather late actually) that as I had to work really hard to break down the gluten so that it wouldn't sieze, the call for pastry flour (which I can't find here easily) in the original recipe makes sense. With a little hard flour thrown in to give it strength.


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really admire all the people who are trying to attain the high art of pulling noodles, but other than saying that you can do it, is there any economic, taste, or aesthetic reason that hand pulled noodles are better... or worth the effort? Not many of us has the time to develop the skill to make noodles that are as consistently good as the pros do. A better way to get hand made noodles is to do what almost 200 million Chinese housewives do in the noodle eating regions of China, as a daily necessity. They roll out the dough in thin layers, stack them and cut into thin strands. Presto! Noodles. So simple and more hygienic.

Myself I use the pasta machine if and when I actually want homemade noodles. :raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do they still pull them in China? Is it purely for the show? Not sure why rolling and cutting would be any more or less hygienic than pulling them. Well, clearly no economic difference one way or the other. I must say I do like the texture of them; I'd never had them before but I'll definitely do it again. It seems that once you have the technique even fairly under your belt, pulling the noodles is much faster than rolling out, stacking and cutting them. But the main reason I did it was because it's interesting, and it's fun. :raz: And I learned/am learning something new. Both good reasons to do something in my book. After all you never know when a skill might come in handy or apply somewhere else.


Edited by sazji (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, sazji -- that's quite an impressive difference. A couple months from now you should be a master. Istanbul could use a noodle shop, I know at least a few people who would become regular customers once they move back! Something to fall back on if the research grants fall through. :wink:

I think there is a big texture difference between rolled and hand pulled noodles. The hand pulled ones always felt a little "springier" to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why do they still pull them in China?  Is it purely for the show? 

Mainly for show. But I am glad that they have preserved and expanded the skill.

20 years ago, there may have been 50 places in all of China that had pulled noodles. Then there was a travelogue done by a British team that showed the procedure, and overnight the pragmatic Chinese realize that they had an attraction that they could draw the "big nose" tourists with. Now there is a restaurant or a stall on every block that has pulled noodles. Back in the old days, they were all rolled and cut...which was more expedient. Point of fact is that the vast majority of noodles sold in eateries is not pulled.

Tell me this, did everyone go home to try the "flying blades and spatulas art" of the Japanese teppanyaki restaurants when they first showed up? Did the juggling skill and showmanship of the Japanese grill cooks improve the flavour of the food by flahing and flipping their knives through the air?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The handcut noodles is a different kettle of fish altogether. Think pasta.

But I do love hand-pulled noodles. La mian is one of my favorite dishes when eating out.

Sazji's method sounds like what I've seen here at the many hand-pulled noodle chains here--Crystal Jade is definitely one of the best.


May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tell me this, did everyone go home to try the "flying blades and spatulas art" of the Japanese teppanyaki restaurants when they first showed up? Did the juggling skill and showmanship of the Japanese grill cooks improve the flavour of the food by flahing and flipping their knives through the air?

With all due respect, I don't think that's a good comparison. When Japanese cooks throw their knives through the air, the only connection to the food itself is the cutting; the ingredients are no different. But with noodles, the dough is different, it has to be softer, it has to be kneaded a lot more; those are both things that will inevitably affect texture, even if it is not an immense difference. But then what may seem trivial to one person may be very important to another. Two restaurants may make the same dish even, but due to subtle differences in preparation, we may really prefer one to the other. I don't yet seen the reason that cutting noodles is more expedient, when one has the technique.

As for becoming a master...well, I don't think I'll ever eat that many noodles! And research grants...? What research grants? :huh: I sit and do translations of insurance policies and legal contracts (well, luckily it's not all that dull) to be able to survive here!


Edited by sazji (log)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, where I live, is sugar central for the country. Over two-thirds of China's output of sugar is grown right here, making it one of the largest sugar production areas on the planet. I have a second home in the countryside and it is surrounded by sugar cane fields.

      Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in.
       
      Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine.
       
      Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng),

      IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different.

      By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice.


       
      I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'.
       
      The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range.


       
      Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖  (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g.
       


      A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g.


       
      Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at  ¥3.88/500g.



      A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g


       
      Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
    • By Dejah
      [Host's note: This topic forms part of an extended discussion which grew too large for our servers to handle efficiently.  The conversation continues from here.]
       
       
      Supper: Yeem Gok Gai:

      Mock Fried Rice - grated cauliflower

      Baby Shanghai Bok Choy and ginger

    • By liuzhou
      eG member @Carolyn Phillips has just published her ten-year-long-gestated Chinese cook book, All Under Heaven. 500 pages on China's 35 cuisines. Gathering rave reviews. I've ordered my copy. Can't wait.

      Simultaneously, her "Dim Sum Field Guide is published.
       
      She hasn't posted much here recently, but who would or could while writing two books at the same time - one of them a huge tome?

      Congratulations Carolyn.

       
    • By liuzhou
      A few weeks ago I bought a copy of this cookbook which is a best-selling spin off from the highly successful television series by China Central Television - A Bite of China as discussed on this thread.   .
       

       
      The book was published in August 2013 and is by Chen Zhitian (陈志田 - chén zhì tián). It is only available in Chinese (so far). 
       
      There are a number of books related to the television series but this is the only one which seems to be legitimate. It certainly has the high production standards of the television show. Beautifully photographed and with (relatively) clear details in the recipes.
       
      Here is a sample page.
       

       
      Unlike in most western cookbooks, recipes are not listed by main ingredient. They are set out in six vaguely defined chapters. So, if you are looking for a duck dish, for example, you'll have to go through the whole contents list. I've never seen an index in any Chinese book on any subject. 
       
      In order to demonstrate the breadth of recipes in the book and perhaps to be of interest to forum members who want to know what is in a popular Chinese recipe book, I have sort of translated the contents list - 187 recipes.
       
      This is always problematic. Very often Chinese dishes are very cryptically named. This list contains some literal translations. For some dishes I have totally ignored the given name and given a brief description instead. Any Chinese in the list refers to place names. Some dishes I have left with literal translations of their cryptic names, just for amusement value.
       
      I am not happy with some of the "translations" and will work on improving them. I am also certain there are errors in there, too.
       
      Back in 2008, the Chinese government issued a list of official dish translations for the Beijing Olympics. It is full of weird translations and total errors, too. Interestingly, few of the dishes in the book are on that list.
       
      Anyway, for what it is worth, the book's content list is here (Word document) or here (PDF file). If anyone is interested in more information on a dish, please ask. For copyright reasons, I can't reproduce the dishes here exactly, but can certainly describe them.
       
      Another problem is that many Chinese recipes are vague in the extreme. I'm not one to slavishly follow instructions, but saying "enough meat" in a recipe is not very helpful. This book gives details (by weight) for the main ingredients, but goes vague on most  condiments.
       
      For example, the first dish (Dezhou Braised Chicken), calls for precisely 1500g of chicken, 50g dried mushroom, 20g sliced ginger and 10g of scallion. It then lists cassia bark, caoguo, unspecified herbs, Chinese cardamom, fennel seed, star anise, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cooking wine without suggesting any quantities. It then goes back to ask for 35g of maltose syrup, a soupçon of cloves, and "the correct quantity" of soy sauce.
       
      Cooking instructions can be equally vague. "Cook until cooked".
       
      A Bite of China - 舌尖上的中国- ISBN 978-7-5113-3940-9 
    • By liuzhou
      Introduction
       
      I spent the weekend in western Hunan reuniting with 36 people I worked with for two years starting 20 years ago. All but one, 龙丽花 lóng lì huā, I hadn’t seen for 17 years.  I last saw her ten years ago. One other, 舒晶 shū jīng, with whom I have kept constant contact but not actually seen, helped me organise the visit in secret. No one else knew I was coming. In fact, I had told Long Lihua that I couldn’t come. Most didn’t even know I am still in China.
       
      I arrived at my local station around 00:20 in order to catch the 1:00 train northwards travelling overnight to Hunan, with an advertised arrival time of 9:15 am. Shu Jing was to meet me.
       
      When I arrived at the station, armed with my sleeper ticket, I found that the train was running 5 hours late! Station staff advised that I change my ticket for a different train, which I did. The problem was that there were no sleeper tickets available on the new train. All I could get was a seat. I had no choice, really. They refunded the difference and gave me my new ticket.
       
       

       

       
      The second train was only 1½ hours late, then I had a miserable night, unable to sleep and very uncomfortable. Somehow the train managed to make up for the late start and we arrived on time. I was met as planned and we hopped into a taxi to the hotel where I was to stay and where the reunion was to take place.
       
      They had set up a reception desk in the hotel lobby and around half of the people I had come to see were there. When I walked in there was this moment of confusion, stunned silence, then the friend I had lied to about not coming ran towards me and threw herself into my arms with tears running down her face and across her smile. It was the best welcome I’ve ever had. Then the others also welcomed me less physically, but no less warmly. They were around 20 years old when I met them; now they are verging on, or already are, 40, though few of them look it. Long Lihua is the one on the far right.
       

       
      Throughout the morning people arrived in trickles as their trains or buses got in from all over China. One woman had come all the way from the USA. We sat around chatting, reminiscing and eating water melon until finally it was time for lunch.
       

       
      Lunch we had in the hotel dining room. By that time, the group had swelled to enough to require three banqueting tables.
       
      Western Hunan, known as 湘西 xiāng xī, where I was and where I lived for two years - twenty years ago, is a wild mountainous area full of rivers. It was one of the last areas “liberated” by Mao’s communists and was largely lawless until relatively recently. It has spectacular scenery.
       
      Hunan is known for its spicy food, but Xiangxi is the hottest. I always know when I am back in Hunan. I just look out the train window and see every flat surface covered in chilis drying in the sun. Station platforms, school playgrounds, the main road from the village to the nearest town are all strewn with chillis.
       

       

       
      The people there consider Sichuan to be full of chilli wimps. I love it. When I left Hunan I missed the food so much. So I was looking forward to this. It did not disappoint.
       
      So Saturday lunch in next post.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.