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Making Hand-Pulled Noodles

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ludja   

So cool, sazji! Congratulations on your progress and thanks for taking the time to document and post your adventures.

It puts me to shame that I haven't practiced using my pasta machine enough to guarantee sucess there yet... And yes; for me too, it is always a thrill when I've mastered some new technique in the kitchen.

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FWIW, I recently saw a repeat of Inside Dish, Rachel Ray's interview show. Brett Ratner was the guest, and they were at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills, and one segment featured the making of hand-pulled noodles.

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Soup   

sazji,

you rock. The noodle look pretty good. Congrats!!!

Soup

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slkinsey   

This looks very impressive. I have to try it!

I also think that there is a definite textural difference between hand pulled and cut noodles. There used to be a place in my neighborhood that did hand pulled noodles, and I've been sad about it ever since they closed.

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I also think that there is a definite textural difference between hand pulled and cut noodles.  There used to be a place in my neighborhood that did hand pulled noodles, and I've been sad about it ever since they closed.

Oh definitely.

You can find handmade cut noodles at practically every foodcourt or hawker center here. They are less elastic, and you MUST eat them very fast, especially if you ordered them in soup, because they soak up water much faster and become mushy quickly.

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sazji   

I made handcut ones lately too - They came out pretty well, but definitely different. I can't say if I like one particularly more than the other. But I can say that pulling them (even if it takes more prepartion of the dough and practice doing it) is definitely more fun than cuttin them! Cutting them exactly should be some sort of zen exercise in patience and mindfulness... Last time I did them, I had a big pile of quite reasonably even noodles, dusted with flour. I was reaching up to get some garlic out of my three-tiered hanging metal baskets, and I knocked a lemon, which knocked an orange out of the next basket, which fell and dislodged a potato out of the lower basket, which, in perfect Rube Goldberg fasion (but much faster) landed right on the edge of a pot with some daphne cuttings in it (that window is perfect for them...but I should have moved it), overturning it and flipping about 3/4 cup of peat moss and perlite squarely into the middle of my freshly cut noodles. Stoopid....

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trillium   

I guess we're not so into zen exercises, we use our pasta machine to cut them, works great and you can do different widths! Also, if you dust with cornstarch or rice flour, it knocks off the noodles easier and ends up being less gummy when you boil them. Sorry about the peat moss and perlite, what a bummer!

regards,

trillium

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_john   

check out this video of hand pulling noodles shot by out very own egullet member zenkimchi:

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slkinsey   

That's pretty incredible. It's a lot more forceful than I thought it would be.

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JasonZ   

that's what I remember seeing in Vancouver so many years ago ... and have never been able to find a place to teach me how ... now, with visuals from Korea and dough directions from Turkey, maybe I can hand throw noodles in Philadelphia!!!

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sazji   

Wow, that was pretty amazing! I found that the kneading at the beginning was helpful too, but the slapping was interesting - reminded me of friends who made strudel dough. But the technique is great, especially the way he gets the loop spinning to keep the end open so he can reach in and double it. Once it starts stretching though you do have to work fast, otherwise it will get away from you! Thanks for posting the video!


Edited by sazji (log)

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jumanggy   

I realize this is a relatively old thread, but it's got me excited. I don't even know why I suddenly felt a hankering for hand-pulled noodle but maybe I'm drawn to the spectacle. What's even more astonishing is that I've seen some youtube videos where young pullers are very nonchalantly doing their work.

I'd like to try one day because the ingredients are comparatively cheaper than that other magical feat of culinary multiplication, puff pastry, and if I fail, which would probably be the case, I can always just roll it out and make my lame old noodles.

(By the way, how many more dishes use geometric progression?)

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Ce'nedra   

From Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey's new-ish book "Beyond the Great Wall", there's a recipe for hand pulled noodles that's supposed to be very easy.

Here's the recipe link for the noodles and laghman sauce to go with it:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...8060303060.html

There's also a step by step pictorial of Jeffrey making the noodles himself (click on gallery)!

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sazji   
There's also a step by step pictorial of Jeffrey making the noodles himself (click on gallery)!

The onese he makes are easy - but they are only "hand pulled" in the sense that he's cut up pieces of rolled-out dough and then stretched them out once. that sort of noodles (and some requiring more work as well) are made in homes all over China. It's a very different thing than starting with a thick piece and using pulling as the only way of thinning them down - for that, not only must the consistency of the dough be right, but you also need to get a definite skill down and do it without missing a beat. Like learning to flip a pancake just by tossing it and not having half of it land on the floor. :)

Of course like many skills with a learning curve, it's not impossible by any means; it's just that most people won't take the time to master such skills, either because the preparation necessary isn't worth it for small amounts of final product, or because along with the skill you need large/expensive equipment to pull it off. (Tissue-thin baklava phyllo rolled thirteen sheets at a time comes to mind, or kadayif, which requires both skill and a huge honkin' griddle!) So a specialization is born, and people who do it all the time refine their skills even further.

Still I do think about noodles often and will probably play with it some more the next time my housemate will be away for a few days and won't be shocked by a kitchen covered with flour and bits of snapped noodle!

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Ce'nedra   

Yep, I know the difference but I figured if people wanted the easy route, that's probably one of the few options :P

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Replying to Mark's query upthread, "how many food use geometric progression?" shall mention one more, using exactly the same principle as hand-pulling noodles seen in Chinatown, Manhattan. This is done for sugar candy and accomplished quite rapidly within the space of a handsbreath, on a tiny trestle table set up as a vending stall.

Makes one wonder if this might not be an alternative [preliminary] path to learning the noodle technique, less messy and strenuous, very little space required?

Could anyone provide the Chinese name for this candy and more details of this process, i.e. how to make the sugar fondant base etc.?

An Indian sweet, sohan papri, made from malted wheat and semi-caramelized sugar and ghee, plus a LOT of muscle power also is pulled in the manner of noodles , but especially like the Chinese candy into very fine 'hairs', the finer denoting higher quality. These are folded over and cut into cubes. Nowadays, Haldiram's sells an acceptable tinned brand in the US. The US made fresh types are still nowhere as satisfactory as the canned Indian ones!!


Edited by v. gautam (log)

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sazji   

Another mathematical progression one here is Pişmaniye, also made with sugar syrup that is placed on a broad smooth surface that has a generous coating of pounded (and lightly toasted?) flour. It is pulled and doubled in the flour, and eventually looks like cotton candy. It is a specialty of the city of Izmit, and people who take a bus through there feel obliged to buy some to treat their hosts. It's now commonly found in other areas to had has become sort of a "standard travelers' gift" unless you are going through some other place with a local specialty, say Malatya, in which case you will be expected to bring apricots or something made therefrom. The name, by the way, comes from the word pişman, "regretful." They say you are regretful if you don't eat it, and regretful if you do" (presumably because the thicker strands tend to prick the mouth).

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Hi all,

I've also been very interested in hand-pulled noodles for quite a while. Isn't it weird that there isn't much info on it on the web? what's the deal with that?

Well, following the posts in this forum and all the other information I could find through Google and YouTube, I've done some experimentation and come up with a couple recipes and instructions on how to make hand pulled noodles. In addition, I've put together a two YouTube videos. You can get to all of this through my website: www.lukerymarz.com. Click on the "Noodles" link.

The two YouTube videos I posted are "kneading" and "pulling". Available at:

and

Has anyone had any recent successes with this? I'm still trying to figure out where to get a proper chinese noodle flour (with low gluten levels) so i don't have to make a mix from cake and all-purpose flour... the experimentation continues.

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jo-mel   

Years ago, at the Chinese Expo in NYC, I watched an expert demonstrate the whole process. Looked easy. So I went home and tried to do it. HeeHee! New respect for that expert noodle man.

And, in China, there was also an expert who gave us a demonstration. At the very end, when he was twirling on the last pull, with all those strands waving thru the air ----- one strand broke. Disaster! The demonstrator was upset and proceeded to do it all over from the beginning. Success and great applause.

If I ever tried to do it again, it would be the 'easy' version that Florence Lin offers in her Dumpling/Noodle book. But I'm too lazy to try.

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Fengyi   

f anyone's in Beijing - I've just seen classes advertised for hand-pulling noodles. You can take them with the Chinese Culture Club here (I've never been to any of their events, but they're supposed to be quite good).

Hand pulled noodle class

Just thought it might be useful if anyone was passing through (maybe I'll go!).

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Would someone please educate me on the oat flour noodles of China? The ones I have seen certainly start out as hand-made dough stretched but not pulled in the same sense of the above. They do end up as ribbons conformed into 3 dimensional shapes i find difficult to describe: boxy, honeycomb-like?

Are these steamed and with what are they eaten? What sorts of oats and other flours are used to make them? I would be very interested to learn of other whole grain flours used in traditional Chinese noodles. uckwheat is one, there must be others. It would seem that white flour would have been the preserve of the rich until the advent of power machinery and steel roller mills, just as in the West, with whole grain flours being cheaper than the refined sorts. So, would there not have been a whole class of noodles based on these types of flours?

Thanks.

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Shiewie   

I'm not sure what flours (apart from oat flour I would assume :raz:) are used in it but they are steamed and eaten with a selection of dipping sauces. We chose vinegar and egg with tomato. Here are some pictures of the noodle chefs at Noodle Loft in Beijing in action and the final product.

gallery_3270_6109_24675.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_15487.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_44482.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_51425.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_35321.jpg

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Thank you so much for those beautiful photos, that prompt only more questions, if you please!!!

1. Although the chef's hands are moving very fast, would it be correct to say that these are basically thin cylinders? How are the bottoms closed?

2. When you eat it (it looks like a calla lilly!) how do you dip it? Do you want the cavity to become full, like a manicotti, or merely just moistened with the sauce? Or do you just grasp the pocket around its middle with the chopsticks and enjoy the texture in several bites?

3. Its Chinese name, and any cultural history, please.

Thanks much.

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Fengyi   
Thank you so much for those beautiful photos, that prompt only more questions, if you please!!!

1. Although the chef's hands are moving very fast, would it be correct to say that these are basically thin cylinders? How are the bottoms closed?

2. When you eat it (it looks like a calla lilly!) how do you dip it? Do you want the cavity to become full, like a manicotti, or merely just moistened with the sauce? Or do you just grasp the pocket around its middle with the chopsticks and enjoy the texture in several bites?

3. Its Chinese name, and any cultural history, please.

Thanks much.

1. Thin cylinders pressed onto the bottom of the basket - shouldn't be closed, but many times they are.

2. pull them out and dip them greedily. The vinegar is too liquid to fill the hole - it's just to coat.

3. Kaolaolao (A student intern has just changed the Chinese input on my office computer so I can't figure out how to put in the characters - but I have posted about these noodles before). It's a very cool name - I will try and look up the etymology.

I ate a magnificent basket of these after a day touring the wonderous Chang family compound in Shanxi. The texture is lovely when done well and the memory is great!

Unfortunately, before I went to Shanxi, I used to like going to Loft. Now that I've tasted how good things are in Shanxi.....I haven't been back to Loft :sad: and can't seem to find Shanxi noodles like they make them in Shanxi. . . . .

Those are GREAT photos, Shiewie!!!! They really capture the Loft guys art in motion!

Do post more Beijing photos if you have them - I am miserably bad at photography and would love to see them.


Edited by Fengyi (log)

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Fengyi   

BTW, there's tons more types of noodles in Shanxi - they have more than you can shake a very large stick at!! The buckwheat ones are awesome too - great texture!

Totally different from Lamian but just as tasty (I'm a daoshao mian fan myself though!)

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