Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hand Pulled Noodles

I love noodles! A Google search proves there are many different methods and styles of pulling Asian noodles. When the opportunity arose for me to watch and learn, one-on-one, how to 'hand pull noodles', I jumped at it!! 

I was honored to meet a mother and daughter from TAIYUAN, in Northern China. These noodles are a common meal in their home, to me it's an incredible culinary art. I was thrilled to watch, practice and ask questions in person, first hand... an opportunity of a lifetime for me! 
Roll, rest and ready to start
Cut, keeping one end intact

The dough, made from a special high gluten flour, water and salt, takes time to knead and rest so was already prepared and ready to roll and cut. We were told the knife they use is twice the size we had available and the board they use is four times the size of ours, so she had to compromise and downsize her method.

The soft, supple dough was rolled with a special wooden rolling pin. The end cut was removed and set aside. Then noodle cuts were made, keeping one end intact. I was instructed, (and did not perfect) a quick, strong, flick of the knife blade at the end of each cut. This flick turned the cut edge of the dough upwards, so it could be floured and the noodles would not stick together. Once the strips were cut and floured, they were rolled over each other into a rope. Wrists are crossed so when the rope is picked up it is twisted again. 

It was amazing how strong the dough was, yet soft and pliable. Once the rolled rope is picked up and twisted, it is gently stretched while pounding on the floured board. I was timid to break the noodles but was assisted to spread my arms further apart to stretch the dough thinner. As I became more confident, the noodles were doubled over and then pulled and pounded more.

A wok of boiling water was kept on the stove. Once pulled and ready, the noodles were immediately lowered into the boiling water. The connected end of dough was pinched off at this point. Once in the boiling water, the noodles were stirred with chop sticks. When the noodles were floating near the top of the boiling water, they were ready to be removed and served fresh and hot.
The left over, made into 'cats ears'

Into the wok
The left over 'scraps' of dough were not wasted. They were gathered together and gently kneaded. Then cut into small pieces and rolled under the thumb almost like a tiny gnocchi. They translate to 'cats ears', and were also cooked in boiling water until they float. Then served with the same toppings.

Before the noodles were made, two toppings had been prepared; one of egg and tomato, slightly sweetened with sugar, and a stir fry of prawns, mushrooms, potato, red onion, broccoli, cabbage, tofu and a special sauce brought from China, that had a kick of heat. As the noodles were ready, they were portioned into bowls, topped with the sauces and enjoyed by all of us. By that time I was so interested in eating, I forgot to take photos!! The noodles had a chewy, substantial texture and the topping accompaniments, fresh, flavorful and delicious.
Several days later, I still reflect on this incredible experience and hope to make an attempt to replicate it at home.

Till next time... Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae