I remember the first time I and Jesse saw someone in a window on bayard st making hand-pulled noodles.
We watch the man twist and pulled noodles until they multiplied into a bowl full of noodles.
I went inside and spoke to the manager I asked if it would possible for the master to teach Jesse who was 11 at the time. They look at him and were about to say no till I showed them the dishes he made they smiled and showed the master the pictures They said yes. I said I wanted to come back another time to film the process and do it they say sure we can put him in the window to learn.
I said I did not have my camera gear and we would come back another day.
So we went home and said lets practice before we go back and film.
We looked at a recipe for the noodle this was going to be fun! We rolled we twisted we pulled we snapped the dough.. we kept trying it was not working! We tried another recipe that did not work either it was extremely difficult to pull the noodles we failed. But we kept trying we went back to the restaurant like 2 months later they closed and in place was a 4 dishes for 5.00 joints.
So we had no one to teach us we looked at every video every recipe every single one was different no 2 recipes or methods were alike.
How did this hand-pulled noodle thing start? Did Marco Polo learn to do hand-pulled noodles?
I will get to Marco Polo myths another time and more history of the noodle in another story.
Noodles have been around for 4000 years that’s a freaking long time! Asia has so many types and ways of making noodle you can not keep count. Hand-pulled noodles use no machines it’s an ancient art form that takes time to master this skill Which can take years.
They are many types of hand pull noodles but the 2 most common ones are lamian which the most famous one in which the chef can pull multiple strands of noodles at one time.
The other noodle is Biangbiang which is the most difficult word to write it takes 57 strokes to write it in Chinese. Biangbiang is a wide noodle that is chewy in a very good satisfying “tooth feel” way.
We had to learn on our own even the best Asian chef I knew have never made pulled noodles.
So I would say we attempted at least 7 times with all failures before learning the balance the kneading Process before making headway and moving forward with making noodles. The first time it worked was like doing a real magic trick!
The theory behind it is to make the flour elastic so it can be pulled by making the flour glutinous with kneading… Easier said than done. The recipe measurements are simple and are pretty close across the board.
Pick a flour with high gluten 10-12%
500 grams of flour
250 grams of water
5 grams of salt
Optional adding lye water. Not to be confused with draino!
Mix everything together and knead the dough for a long time.
Rest the dough for like an hour covered.
Knead the dough again till you get tired.
Ask someone to take your place and let them knead the dough.
Start binge watching a show, after season 1 ends tell them to stop and let the dough rest.
Knead the dough then roll it in a log shape and slowly try to pull it..
If you pull and let go and it goes back to its original shape or breaks, go to YouTube and look at how to make hand-pull noodles for 3 hours then try again.
It should feel like silly putty when you pull not play dough.
When you are done throw the dough in the garbage and restart. Try with more water or less water, different flour even salts differ, or try more or less salt… salt helps with elasticity.
Eventually something clicks and you figure out the kneading process, the water content amount. It is extremely rare you get it right the first time. It’s all about feel and technique… doing it all By hand.
We are not masters of the art of noodle pulling, but we can make the noodles by hand now.
We did not want to make a broth for soup so we thought we’d show you our lamian next time and our Biangbiang noodles first
Once the dough felt right we rolled it out flat and oiled it on both sides.
We let it rest for a bit then it’s cut in strips and banged and pulled the noodle.
This is exactly how Biangbiang noodles are made. The cooking process is throwing the noodles in boiling water, then add cold water to stop the boiling, repeat 2 more times then put noodles in coldest water, then drain.
We eat them cold with chili flakes, scallion, ginger, peppers, and garlic on top then we pour extremely hot oil on top of the chili flakes and other toppings then we add Chinese black vinegar a pinch of sugar, sesame seeds and sesame oil and some soy sauce. Optional hoisin sauce, and peanut sauce.
The taste is layered with flavors on a bed of chewy noodles as you slurp the noodles you get more flavors coming through from sweet to spicy the texture of the noodle is perfect for holding all types of sauces.
Hey, you are stuck at home… give it a try! It’s only flour and water… what else are you doing today?