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Making Hand-Pulled Noodles

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Here are more pics of noodle making in action and other items we ate at Noodle Loft for Fengyi.

This doesn't look like noodles but it is - Fengyi, do you know what it's called?

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The texture of this was wonderfully chewy but sauce we chose a tad salty, especialy since we dumped the whole bowl on

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Knife-cut noodles with beef brisket

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Sorghum dumplings stuffed with preserved vegetable (xian chai/harm choy)

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My friends whom I stayed with were hankering for a taste of home so we had some 'roti canai' substitute :raz:

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Sorghum dumpling chef in action

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Making knife-cut noodles - he was so fast I just couldn't capture the noodles flying in the air in any of the many, many pictures I took

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Those noodles in the pictures from Noodle Loft looked like empty "4-happiness shao mai" to me. That was my first thought. There is no filling? Are they just the noodles formed in a special way? Why?

My fond memories of hand cut noodles (Dao Mian 刀面) are from a 'food street' in Beijing near the UIBE. The chef stood near the street and his pot of boiling water. Some of the noodles fell onto the sidewalk, most hit the pot. I have to say that those were the best noodles and the best broth I can remember. I have had 'dow mian' since, but none can compare to those in my memory.

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I got it here is a video tutorial on how to do hand pulled noodles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZA1oPcKoJw

1. There is no special dough recipe, just flour and water is needed.

2. Stretchiness comes from kneeding.

3. Be patient, you'll find yourself kneeding in a circle, meaning your dough isn't progressing.

4. Good luck!

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The texture of this was wonderfully chewy but sauce we chose a tad salty, especialy since we dumped the whole bowl on

gallery_3270_6109_49182.jpg

What's the name of these noodles? Where do they get their green? And oh yes, they DO look chewy -just the way I like my noodles.

Thanks for the informative photos btw.

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Hi! Those aren't 'noodles' that's one LONG noodle. Just one... It's usually green from spinach/spinach-like green.

Very cool to watch them doing it. BTW, if you're ever in Beijing - there's a lovely private Kitchen, Black Sesame which will give you noodle pulling lessons. The chef there used to work in a noodle shop - he's very nice!

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Hey folks --

I've been wanting to try this, and found a fantastic set of step-by-step videos on how to hand-pull noodles...

Here are links to two videos, and the guy's website with descriptions, recipes, FAQ's, etc,

(Part 1 -- kneading dough)

(Part 2 -- pulling dough)

http://www.lukerymarz.com/noodles/index.html

Emily


Edited by Emily_R (log)

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A bit of info re tube noodles posted on message #47 by shewie. A bit late hope you find this useful.

These tubular noodles or pasta is a speciality of Shanxi, normally eaten with a spicy dipping sauce and lamb stew.

There are two names all the same referring to the same noodles.

莜面窝窝 you mein war war

莜面拷栳栳 you mein kao lao lao

Here are the definitions:

莜面 (you mein) is flour/noodles made with a type of oat called avena nuda or naked oat, This flour has a greyish colour. I have never seen it in the far east, UK or LA. I think you can only get this in China.

窝窝 (war war) refers to the honeycombed shape

拷栳栳 (kao lao lao) this is a local dialet, not many people really sure what this means. Some said 拷栳 was a farmer's tool and others said 拷栳栳 refers to a tubular colander.

Here is a video how to shape this noodles http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDc0MDg5MjA=.html

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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!!

I think it korean it is called the kings candy or Dragon's beard candy. Here is a video on making the "beard".

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Here are two good videos on making hand pulled noodles that I've been meaning to try for ages...

[Video 1, on making and kneading the dough]

[Video 2, on pulling the noodles]

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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 (log)

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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

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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).

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"----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 (log)

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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...

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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.org/wiki/Bi%C3%A1ngbi%C3%A1ng_noodles

(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.tinyurbankitchen.com/2011/05/art-of-hand-pulled-noodles-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 (log)

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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.

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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

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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!

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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 (log)

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