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Making Hand-Pulled Noodles


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Hi Sub,

I have a cupboard full of flour left over from my noodling attempts. i have just checked and i have an opened bag of 'speciality' pizza flour (it says grade 0). I dont remember using it or what the results where but i obviously did. i would have to check my notes that i made at the time. thanks for your suggestion, i have just looked online and it appears Caputo (blue) is available online in 25kg bags in the UK. It highlights how elastic the dough made from it is, so that is definately worth a try. The other brands may be available here too, i will look. i might even look into obtaining the lye. i dont mind using it experimentally i.e. if i can get a recipe working with it, then work out how to get the same or similar results without it.

The Bosch MUM mixer looks really cool. I had never seen them before looking them up just now. I have a 'Kenwood Chef' which is similar to the US 'Kitchen Aid'. Mine is from the 1960's and is still a solid working mixer. Going from what i read on the Mr Wong blog, 25 minutes in a stand mixer sounds right (with an appropriate length rest). I am definately going to be trying this.

The dough working technique and noodle pulling technique does seem to be very important too (as above) and i thought Mr Wong explained it very well on the video. Look how he uses the 'V' shaped 'kneading'. I think the video has been edited a lot too but there is enough there for me to improve on what i have been doing so far.

Some of the noodle doughs i made were stretchable too. But not as stretchable as they needed to be. Please see some of the videos i posted earlier (back on page 6). You can see that i am not far away. I was using if i remember correctly 10% protien 'bread' flour blended (wtih water) in my food processor for 3 to 4 minutes to form a dough, then worked by hand to make it stretchable. I have more to do on this but i am happy that i am heading in the right direction.

Many thanks

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Thanks, here's anoter one (you can enable subtitles)

It was taken from A bite of China the best culinary documentary series ever made, I love it !

After an youtube search with 手拉面 I've found this great tutorial (in Chinese :hmmm: )

http://youtu.be/EWquJ9Yvqls

recipe ? flour:1000g water:650g salt:15g alkaline:5g

Edited by sub (log)
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If you are looking for videos of lamian being made, then you might also like to try Youku http://www.youku.com/

If you put in the chineese for 'hand ramen' 手拉面 you should get lots of videos. Heres an example:

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMjUwNTkyMzcy.html

Going further, Kleinebre in previous posts above used google translate to make searches in chinese. I looked up flour using that method too. Surprise surprise i found that the chinese flour i looked at specifically for lamian contained bleach. I only looked at a small sample though.

As another example, i put into google the translated chinese for lamian and flour (together). This was one of the results:

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4898a4880100l2j4.html (you can select for translation)

This is interesting as they use a different method of hand pulling noodles (have come across this before) whereby the dough is cut into strips first but is then pulled as normal.

Happy searching!

Eat More Noodles!

Edited by Chelseabun (log)
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I have made up a dough using Andrew Wong's recipe from his blog (as above). I used my usual strong bread flour mixed with plain flour. An egg is incorporated as a dough improver (instead of the harsh chemicals). It was kneaded in my bread machine before resting for a couple of hours. This produced a workable dough (please see videos below). I now have a dough that I can use for practicing my noodle pulling technique. On this occasion, I did not pull noodles but it was close enough that with practice, I should be pulling noodles.

Edited by Chelseabun (log)
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> I watched that and the dough he took out of the bowl had already been worked. It was stretchy and sticky. I don't think they are telling the whole story.

I feel the same.

dcarch

They *are* telling the whole story - Waking up at 5am to make noodle dough for lunch and resting the dough for SIX HOURS. This would make for an exceedingly boring video though, so they started out with rested dough. Given enough resting time, simply flour, water, and a pinch of salt *will* do the trick. The problem though, is that resting for too short a time will under-develop the gluten, which will result in the noodles not keeping together; while over-developed gluten won't work either because it will be too elastic and the dough will tear itself apart when stretched. I'm afraid that that's where "feel" for the dough comes in, but generally speaking, if the dough pulls itself to pieces, gluten is over-developed. It can be solved by increasing the moisture, twirling the dough a bit more or increasing alkaline.

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Chelseabun: That's some great-looking dough you've got there, congratulations! Now that you've mastered the dough, next up is pulling technique.

Alternate your twirling between clockwise and counterclockwise, it makes for naturally longer strands. To understand why, take a piece of string and twist it until it naturally twists into itself. If you now want to repeat this for the twisted piece of string, you'll find that you'll have to twist the piece of string in the opposite direction. It's the same with noodles.

I think it was back in May 2013 that I posted some notes on pulling technique, along with a number of videos - have a read and a watch. You're doing great. Dust your noodles between stretches and you'll be enjoying a plateful soon!

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Chelseabun: That's some great-looking dough you've got there, congratulations! Now that you've mastered the dough, next up is pulling technique.

Alternate your twirling between clockwise and counterclockwise, it makes for naturally longer strands. To understand why, take a piece of string and twist it until it naturally twists into itself. If you now want to repeat this for the twisted piece of string, you'll find that you'll have to twist the piece of string in the opposite direction. It's the same with noodles.

I think it was back in May 2013 that I posted some notes on pulling technique, along with a number of videos - have a read and a watch. You're doing great. Dust your noodles between stretches and you'll be enjoying a plateful soon!

Hi Kleinebre,

Many thanks. I would not say that i have mastered the dough exactly. letting my bread machine do the kneading has been a great help and using only small quantities has helped too. I am now able to work on my noodle pulling technique though and it has been an achievement (of sorts) to get that far. Yes, i will read over the older posts. your posts were excellent.

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  • 3 weeks later...

They *are* telling the whole story - Waking up at 5am to make noodle dough for lunch and resting the dough for SIX HOURS. This would make for an exceedingly boring video though, so they started out with rested dough. Given enough resting time, simply flour, water, and a pinch of salt *will* do the trick. The problem though, is that resting for too short a time will under-develop the gluten, which will result in the noodles not keeping together; while over-developed gluten won't work either because it will be too elastic and the dough will tear itself apart when stretched. I'm afraid that that's where "feel" for the dough comes in, but generally speaking, if the dough pulls itself to pieces, gluten is over-developed. It can be solved by increasing the moisture, twirling the dough a bit more or increasing alkaline.

 

 

You are wrong.  They don't wake up at 5 am to make noodle dow and leave it rest for around six hours if you mean 'they' as in La Mian noodle chefs.  They prepare the dough an hour or so before it's ready to be hand pulled.  Simple water and a pinch of salt will ensure that your noodles are white in colour and will disintegrate once added to boiling water.  The Chinese use and additive which relaxes the dough making it easier to stretch and also yellow in colour and to hold together when boiled.  I'm not sure why you think that the Chinese who would prepare scores if not hundreds of these dishes daily would use an additive whereas you or somebody similar who just wants to 'have a go' would not need to.  I hope I don't sound too confrontational.

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  • 5 months later...

You are wrong.  They don't wake up at 5 am to make noodle dow and leave it rest for around six hours if you mean 'they' as in La Mian noodle chefs.  They prepare the dough an hour or so before it's ready to be hand pulled.  Simple water and a pinch of salt will ensure that your noodles are white in colour and will disintegrate once added to boiling water.  The Chinese use and additive which relaxes the dough making it easier to stretch and also yellow in colour and to hold together when boiled.  I'm not sure why you think that the Chinese who would prepare scores if not hundreds of these dishes daily would use an additive whereas you or somebody similar who just wants to 'have a go' would not need to.  I hope I don't sound too confrontational.

 

The additives used in China and elsewhere are not readily available here in the West.  They are also corrosive and it may be preferable to omit them from your food (some of the chemicals added are effective drain cleaners).  It may not be possible to produce hand pulled noodles easily without the additives but that does not mean anybody should try.  I have largely given up making hand pulled noodles - but I had a lot of fun experimenting.

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  • 3 months later...

Another recipe in this book On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta

by Jen Lin-Liu

 

The book in your link looks great.  I will give it's recipe a try.  I could not find the website the book referred to though.  However, I did find a link to this interview with the author who discusses the origins of hand pulled noodles 

 

http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/05/q-and-a-jen-lin-liu-on-noodles-and-their-origins/?_r=0

 

According to the Jen linLiu in the interview, laghman is a regional variation.  I did a quick search and found this video that looks interesting:

 

Edited by Chelseabun (log)
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  • 10 months later...
  • 3 months later...

Has anyone else tried this?  Perhaps I am kneading incorrectly, but my dough is still too elastic.

 

Btw, people talking about caustic chemicals etc in the dough are a bit misinformed.  Peng hui ash aka sodium carbonate is similar to baking soda, except that it is more alkaline and therefore toxic if you ingest it whole.  However we are dilhuting it in water and not to mention mixing it with other things so that the PH level is perfectly acceptable.  Sodium carbonate, like baking soda, is composed of sodium, carbon, and oxygen (sodium bicarbonate also has hydrogen), which is perfectly safe. It's organic 

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  • 4 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Am trying to make these without much luck, Also the contradictory information online is not helping. Since im european the recipes for more american or chinese audiences don't help with me finding the right ingredients in the supermarket. I did read through some of this thread, but it's hard for me to replicate the stuff other people did here.

 

This seemed the most probable at the time, http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/art-of-hand-pulled-noodles-noodle/

 

But after a couple of tries no luck. I did add an alkaline despite the link saying that Beijing noodle's don't have that. I'm assuming the water is naturally more alkaline there then.

 

I did find out that the baked baking soda, sodium carbunate was washing soda. Good to see it confirmed here. The recipe didn't call for it but after a couple of tries with no luck I added it.

 

I use 167g (or close) of 12% protein wheat flour with a teaspoon of salt.

 

100g of water.

 

When I take a tea spoon sized clump of washing soda and dissolve it into the water. The flour does turn yellow when i add it.

 

I then keep kneading it, and keep applying flour onto the surface until it stops sticking to it.. Then I keep kneading it for a total of 20 minutes. I let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

 

Then the plan is for the second stage of kneeding where I stretch it, banging it on the table to then twirl it back together,. But even here the dough breaks when I stretch it. I can stretch it a little but then it breaks down. if i press on the dough it also springs back rather then reacting more like clay.

 

If I look at the videos, their dough is softer and more sticky. I wonder if I should add more flower, or accept the dough will be sticky to a certain ammount and not dust the kneading surface continually.

 

Another guess is that I may need warmer water or a longer rest. Would adding an egg help?

 

Any suggestions from people here would be appreciated. Maybe the taste is not really different from cut noodles. But the fact that you work the gluten for so long has to have a effect on their firmness and mouth feel. Plus it's cool you can make those good noodles using just your hands and some basic ingredients.

 

 

Edited by Daikath (log)
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Ok, I first tried more water. but the dough was just too sticky and loose to be actually kneadable. So I added a spoon of flour.. Thewn during the first kneading pass I stopped  dusting the surface with more flour once I could get it all off most of the time. I then coated it in sesame seed oil and let it rest for longer.

 

I let it rest longer and while I did see some improvements in the elasticity. it wasn't enough to stretch it to twirl it back together like I saw in the videos. I kneaded it by rolling it outinto a longer strand and then twisting it back together, hoping to work the gluten more in order to become stretchy. While I did see a momentary imporvement when i press the dough, that it stayed down rather then pushing back. It wasn't enough to actually help me stretch.

 

Even if I did it slowly and let the bounce up and down, with the slap down do most of the tugging (which would create a natural moment fo rest before stretching again), you could see the dough tear and it would eventually break off.

 

I decided to put it all back into a wall again, cover it in the leftover sesame seed oil and left it rest overnight. To see if that will make a difference.

 

I did notice it was more solid than before it rested. If it doesn't really stretch really well in the morning, I'll try wetting the outside and worktable (I've seen them do it in some youtube clips).

 

I'm still not sure what to make of the conflicting stories of needing a lot or little protein/gluten in your flour. If tomorrow is still not succesfull I'll try some cake flour and see if that works better. The explanation of the dough needing to stretch for bread to rise does make sense. But I'm just trying to eliminate variables. Not sure if it is temperature yet.

 

I long accepted I won't solve it soon. I'm just happy to try different things and see if anything sticks. But if anyone knowlegable would have some advice that would be really great.

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I've read the recipe you've linked (better the one that was referred to in the link you provided). She is very specific as to which and how much of the two flours to use, 1 g (not a teaspoon) of Na2CO3, kneading times etc.

As she gets it done, maybe I'd rather follow her instructions to the letter and try again and again before heading out and changing details (or even begin with different materials or quantities).

Yes, it might be a formulation issue, but it could also be lack of routine to succeed. Maybe try using the recipe in a pasta machine first to see if stable noodles can be achieved. Then head out and do the pulling routine ...

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Thanks for the response Duvel.

 

I honestly tried to follow her instructions to the letter. But I didn't get far. Also she came to the hand pulling noodle workship with the dough already prepared (and given this recipe, rather then having made it herself). It only said to use a high protein bread flour of one kind and just salt. No alkaline agent like baking soda(and it does say a teaspoon and not gram).

 

So since that didn't work I don;'t know any better than to change something and see if it improves. I don't have a pasta machine, but rolling it out into a large sheet and knife cutting the noodles out (and then stretch it, or roll it out longer) might be a thing if I can't get the stretchtness to occur.

 

I'll wait until the morning and report on my findings. There are so many conflicting pieces of information here, with recipes clearly not working for me I don't see another option than to change little things and see if I see changes.

Edited by Daikath (log)
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I'm a big fan of hand-pulled noodle and my previous attempts in the past few years all failed miserably.  However, recently I started to get much better results.  Today for the first time the noodle became cookable and I would say the taste was actually better than those restaurants in both China and US.  I still need to perfect my pulling technique, but I would like to share my findings here.

 

First, I use Hummer high-gluten flour which has about 14% gluten.  I tried bread flour with 12% gluten with extra gluten added to bring it to 15%, but apparently the Hummer one did much better.  I know this contradicts with most recipes you can find online where it always calls for a mix of cake flour and all-purpose flour.  Believe me, I tried those recipes before; while I agree low-gluten flour makes pulling easier, the taste is completely different after you cook it in the boiling water.

 

Second, I only added 50% water and nothing else.  Salt will make the dough harder (equivalent to raising the gluten content); alkaline water does the same, while Penghui (蓬灰) is basically alkaline water plus sulfite which acts as a dough relaxer.  I don't think these ingredients are bad; it is just that they would introduce too many variables which make the experiments less controllable.

 

Third, I used a noodle machine to press the dough.  Mine was bought from Korea but I believe a Kitchenaid roller attachment should work too.  This is the most important part I think.  While Chef Tomm (http://www.cheftomm.com/chinese-hand-pulled-noodles/) found that beating the dough in the mixer at speed 4 will make it quite pullable, a noodle machine has the same effect without the risk of damaging your mixer.  50% water dough was a bit hard at the beginning, but after a few passes through the noodle machine it became very soft, sticky, and stretchy.  I then pressed it to make a thin sheet (the thinner the better result, but you can't go too thin since it is so sticky), and then rolled it into a cylinder and started pulling.  The pulling had been done quickly because I found that it became less pullable after a short rest.

 

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

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    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
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