Category: Noodles

After, oh, idono, two years?  I’ve finally updated my noodle site.  I had been wanting to do this for some time.  It’s generally the same, but I adjusted the style a bit (it had been bothering me) and, more importantly, I’ve fleshed out the FAQ section more.  I’ve collected all the questions I’ve gotten so far on the FAQ, and I’ll try to keep it updated as time goes on.

Check out the newness here: http://www.lukerymarz.com/noodles/

I’ve just gotten word from my friend Chef Tomm that he’ll be teaching a Chinese Cuisine class November 21st at the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, CA. This will include how to make hand-pulled noodles. Check out the November class schedule at the PCI hobby classes page for more info. I would highly recommend this class regardless of your hand pulled noodle skill level. At the very least you’ll get a hands on session with some primo noodle dough (he makes some awesomely stretchy noodle dough).

You can get yourself a 10% off coupon code if you drop Chef Tomm an email (cheftomm-at-hotmail.com) and mention my name.
Also check out Chef Tomm’s website. He’s got hand pulled noodle recipes and videos there, too.

Since there’s been a lot of traffic on my Hand Pulled Noodle Posts, I’ve put together a web page with all the info in one place.  I’m probably going to move on to another project in about a month, so if anyone has an feedback or requests for what should be there, let me know.  After that I’ll be available to answer questions (which I’ll probably put on the AQ page) through email or on my blog posts.

Check out the webpage here.

Stand Mixers

UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

I finally did it.  I bought a Kitchen Aid Pro 600 stand mixer.  I got it for a sweet $320 from Bed Bath and Beyond (I finally found a use for the 20% off coupon they keep sending me).  

I recently gave a noodle pulling demo at a nearby culinary school, The Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, CA.  The folks there had used my dough recipe to get something pullable, but they wanted to see the pulling live.  So I headed over on wednesday.
Now up to this point, I had been mixing my noodle dough by hand.  I’m an old-fashioned guy, and doing it by hand has always suited me.  But as anyone who has actually made the dough knows, it takes a lot of work to get it pullable.
So I showed up at the school, and they had already mixed the dough up using their mixer.  I expected dough on the order of what I have at home.  Instead I was surprised with the most stretchy noodle dough I’ve ever played with.  Totally amazing.  With this kind of thing, I can actually see myself pulling a giant wad of noodles instead of the current single/double serving of noodles you can make with my 300g recipe.
So I bought a mixer yesterday, made some dough, and here’s what you need to know:
1.  I quadrupled my noodle dough recipe.  This made a lot of dough, but I’m not sure what you’d end up with running the 300g recipe in a 6 quart bowl.  It just seem like too little.
2.  I put all the dry ingredients in the bowl, turned the mixer on low, and slowly added the liquid ingredients.
3.  While it was running, I added a little extra water.
4.  I ran the mixer on about speed 4 for 10 minutes.  Felt the dough, and then ran it for another 3 or 4 minutes.  After that it was pullable.
5.  I had to use some extra flour at the end to get the dough to a consistency that didn’t stick to my fingers.
The resultant dough was so nice that I was able to show my girlfriend how to make noodles, and she actually made some even ones.  To be fair, she sees me pulling a lot, but it only took her and hour and a half of getting her hands in the dough to end up with something edible.  Pretty good if you ask me.
Anyways, what I’m saying here is if you have a stand mixer, making hand pulled noodles will be a lot easier for you.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, think about it, but try to do it by hand first if you’re going to buy one.  That way you’ll really appreciate the time and work the darned thing saves you.

UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

So I went over the translations I got for a post I made about a chinese video I found (special thanks to Rusty), and I came up with another noodle recipe that’s a lot easier than the two previous ones. I did two test batches (the first was too dry, and I botched it with too much baking soda). Here’s what I came up with:

-158g cake flour
-26g regular flour
-110g water
-6g vegetable oil or sesame oil
-2g salt
-1g baking soda
UPDATE 2009-01-29 — I’ve changed this recipe because it was a little dry.  The previous recipe had no oil.

Just combine all the ingredients together in a bowl until it’s pretty well mixed. Then dump it out and knead it til it’s smooth. Give it a short rest (10 minutes), and then the real work starts.
Put a little oil on your hands and knead start working the dough (follow the tips I give in my kneading video). If you knead it without oil, it will seem a little dry, but if you add oil it makes it feel like it could really end up stretching into some nice noodles. You’ll notice a big difference. Try it if you like. You won’t hurt the dough.

Anyways, if you spend some time watching the Chinese video I posted, you’ll notice that the way they knead the dough involves twisting it. I found this to be really useful in giving the dough a little exercise. Basically, roll the dough into about a 10 inch hotdog, hold a section of it in place with one hand, and then press the heel of your other hand into the free part of the dough closest to the part that’s being held. I made an illustration to help out:


I Hope that makes sense.  The goal is to cause a tear in the dough between your hands.  At any rate, I think this recipe is probably the best and easiest to understand. Flour for dough. Salt for flavor. Baking soda for texture. Oil for workability. Good Luck, everyone :)

I had the idea to check out google.cn today to see if I could find a lamian recipe.  Well, I found video of a cooking show in which it looks like they explain… everything?  I’m not sure, but there’s information about alkali in there.  I can’t read it, however.  I’ll have to get some translation done.

Here’s some screenshots of particular importance.  I need to call my chinese friends to see who can read it :D






UPDATE July 19, 2009 – If you live in the San Francisco Bay area, Chef Tomm will be teaching a Chinese food class at the Professional Culinary Institute on November 21st. This will include hand pulled noodles! Check out the November schedule on the PCI hobby classes page. There’s more info (and info on a 10% off coupon) on my blog post here.
UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

I’ve made three posts now going through the process of making hand-pulled noodles. Here’s a quick recap:

An image of the final product

Information on ingredients

Recipes and mixing instructions
UPDATE December 6, 2008 -A better and easier recipe

UPDATE January 30, 2009 – Notes about stand mixers

Kneading and pulling technique

I’ll update this posting with any links to posts I make that have more information.

If anyone discovers this and is successful in making noodles, link some photos or make a comment about your success. I’d love to hear about it!

UPDATE June 25, 2008 — I modifed the description of note 1 on the kneading and pulling post. It sounded like you had to throw your dough away after your tried to pull it ONCE. In actuality, you should be able to practice on the same ball of dough repeatedly for upwards of an hour. My point with that note is that the dough acts a little different if you put it in the fridge and try to knead it the next day.

UPDATE July 20, 2008 — I’ve gotten some questions recently about using only all-purpose flour in the dough recipe. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. I put together a recipe like this in my trials and the result is something the seemingly never loosens up. I spend 45 minutes or so on it and threw it away. Moral of the story, if you want a recipe that uses one type of flour, you’re better of trying to use all cake flour (which loosens up, but a little too much) or picking out a flour from your local asian market. I’ve had great success just randomly picking chinese and korean flours from the shelf at my local market. They all have pretty low gluten levels.

UPDATE October 20, 2008 — I’ve found an interesting video on a chinese website. I need to get it translated, but it’s a cooking show where they make hand pulled noodles. Also, in an effort to figure out a dough recipe that takes a little bit less kneading, I’ve order some gluten relaxers to do some experimenting. If I learn anything, I’ll be sure to post it.

UPDATE December 6, 2008 – I’ve posted a new recipe here. Try it out! It’s a lot easier than the previous two recipes.

UPDATE January 30, 2009 – I’ve posted some notes about stand mixers here, since I’ve finally bought one to experiment with.
UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

I thought about taking a bunch of pictures to show show to actually pull the noodles, but it’s better explained in a video. So I’ve broken the whole ordeal up into two parts. The first deals with how to knead the dough and what to look for to know that it’s time to pull some noodles. The second shows you how to pull the noodles, and how to get the most practice time out of your dough.

Part 1 is here:

You really have to work the dough to get it pullable withing 20 minutes. Don’t be discouraged if it takes you 30 or 40 minutes to get the dough there.

And Part 2 is here:

The pulling technique I show here works really well for small balls of dough. I have yet to pull noodles out of a big piece of dough, but I think it requires the whipping technique you see in so many of the other videos on the web.

Some further notes that I’d like to mention:

1. Once you’ve kneaded the dough to a pullable consistency, it’s do or die. If you decide you’re done practicing, just throw the dough away. I haven’t had good luck with dough I’ve put back into the fridge for next day. To clarify, I’m not saying you get one chance to pull noodles for each batch of dough you make. Just don’t try to pull noodles out of the same batch on two different days, and you’ll be alright. The dough seems to lose just a little bit of stretchiness after it’s been kneaded and then gets put back into the fridge.
2. I once took my dough to a high elevation on and tried to pull it there. I had trouble with it, and even when I brought it back I had trouble. I don’t know anything about dough and elevation, but it seems to have caused issues.
3. Keep at it! It’s not easy to get this right, and it takes a lot of practice. Don’t try to pull noodles from recipe that are greater than 300g until you’re confident in your abilities. Larger dough is quite a bit hard to pull evenly.

Some Cooking notes:

1. The noodles don’t need a lot of boiling time. Maybe 3 to 5 minutes max. The first time I was successful, I had them with a little sesame oil and some Magi sauce (close to soy sauce in flavor). The two recipes I’ve posted have good flavor, but the selling point on hand pulled noodles in the texture. YUM!
2. For summertime, serving the noodles cold is good too. Go to an asian market and get some Somen sauce ( a light soy flavored sauce). Cook your noodles like normal, and rinse them in cold water. Put them in a bowl with a few ice cubes, 70% somen sauce and 30% water. Very refreshing on a hot summer day :)

Best of luck to everyone!

UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

I have successfully made hand pulled noodles (la mian, la mien). It’s taken me about 35 batches of dough and a lot of experimenting. I talked about the ingredients in my last post, and now it’s time to talk about a recipe.

I’ll give a couple recipes (one with lye water and one without), and then provide some instructions on how to mix the ingredients together. Should you need more information about the ingredients, I’ve made a post talking about that.

Note that these recipes are by weight. You’ll need a kitchen scale to make these (or you could try converting them to volume measurements). I recommend a digital scale since it’s more precise. I’ve created these recipes by weight because it’s the only way to get a perfect mix every time. If you follow these recipes, you shouldn’t need much (if any) flour during the kneading process.

Each recipe is 300g total. This is enough to make noodles for two people who like noodles, or three to four people who just want to see you make hand pulled noodles.

Hand Pulled Noodle Recipe #19 – with Lye Water

152g cake flour
24g all-purpose flour
1g salt
25g sesame oil
95g water
3g lye water

Hand Pulled Noodle Recipe #21 – without Lye Water

152g cake flour
24g all-purpose flour
1g salt
28g sesame oil
95g water

Now for the mixing process. I’ve been successful with the following, but feel free to try your own way. I don’t think it makes a huge difference, as long as the lye water (if you’re using it) goes in last.

Step 1, measure your flour into the bowl:


Step 2, add salt:
Step 3, add oil:
Step 4, add water:
Finally, if necessary, add your lye water. Be careful here as you only need a little, and I found that my bottle sometimes got excited about pouring itself into my mixture :D.

For the mixing, you can just take a heavy spoon and start stirring. It should look like this as you work:
And finally, when when you’ve got it into a nice ball, you should be able to see that it is very uneven. You should knead it for a few minutes. There will be oily spots and dry spots. This smooths out very quickly. Be careful when kneading, though, since this dough is right at the edge of being too sticky. If you’re quick enough, it won’t stick to your hands. If you have to, though, adding a little bit of flour to keep it from sticking to you is just fine. Here’s the progression from chunky to smooth, to give you and idea of how to knead it:


and now you’ve go hand pulled noodle dough. You can stick this in a ziploc baggie for later, or dive in and try to make noodles. I’ve found that keeping the dough in the fridge overnight makes it a little easier to get the dough to a point where you can pull noodles, but you can still pull noodles from fresh dough. The difference in knead times is about 15 minutes for overnight dough versus about 25 minutes for fresh dough.

My next post will talk about some pulling techniques. I’ve yet to perfect my ability to pull noodles, but I can pretty much get noodles every time I try now. The good news with this dough is that you can try repeatedly, and you can actually re-wet the dough if you feel like it’s drying out a bit. Once you get it to a point where it can be pulled, it’s very forgiving. I’ll save the details for my next post.

UPDATE February 8, 2009 – I’ve put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

I have successfully made hand pulled noodles (la mian, la mien). It’s taken me about 35 batches of dough and a lot of experimenting. The pulling part requires a bit of technique, but without a proper recipe, it’s possible to have dough that will never reach a point where you can pull it. That’s a bit disappointing.

So the first thing to deal with is a good recipe. I went through 21 different dough recipes. The good news is I found a proper recipe that works really well. The bad news is I’ve done all my recipes by weight. That’s a little scary, but it’s the only way to get a perfect ball of dough every time. If anyone comes across this and wants to try to convert to a volume based recipe, feel free, but i recommend going out and buying a cooking scale. It will save a lot of time if you’re planning on committing to learning how to pull noodles.

Ingredients for making hand pulled noodles are relatively simple. You need flour, water, some oil, and a little salt. In addition, you can add some lye water, which I’ll talk about at the end.

Flour

Flour is probably the most troublesome of the ingredients because you have to get your gluten levels just right. The gluten is what makes the dough stretchy. In my experience, too much gluten will result in a dough that will never reach the right texture for pulling. It will tear very early. A proper amount of gluten will result in dough that stretches into hair thin noodles.

I started out working with some flour I found at an asian market near my home (it’s called Marina Food and it’s in Cupertino, CA). Unfortunately, it seems this flour isn’t readily available everywhere, and it seems to be sold out at Marina pretty often. For the record though, here’s what it looks like:

and the nutrition information:

This Korean flour seems to have just the amount of gluten in it, but a flour mix with more common flours is more useful to people who can’t go to Marina to get this. The solution to getting a proper mixture with normal American flours comes from this recipe. However, in my searching, I have been unable to find proper “Pastry” flour, but I’ve been successful with cake flour. For my recipe, I used Softasilk cake flour and Gold Medal All-Purpose flour. These were available at my local Safeway, and you can see them in the image above. Here’s the nutrition information just in case you need it:

for the Softasilk:
And for the Gold Medal:

Now if you can find it, I had really good luck with the Korean flour, but the cake / all-purpose works really well too. If you do go with the Korean flour, just use it as 100% of your flour. The recipe I post will be for the cake / all-purpose mix. Regardless of what you choose to use, your recipe should contain about 59% flour.

Water

Water is pretty simple. Water from the tap is just fine. I generally tried to use warm water, as the dough is much easier to work with when it’s warm. In my recipes, I use about 31% water.

Oil

The purpose of sesame oil in the recipe is for a couple things. The first is flavor. The second, more importantly, is that it gives the dough a bit more springiness when you’re trying to stretch it. It’s almost like liquid rubberband. Thirdly, it helps keep the dough from sticking to your hands. This means we can make a wetter dough recipe and still knead it easily. I’ve tried recipes with no sesame oil, recipe with a little, and recipes with a lot. I’ve had the most success with recipes that have 8-9% sesame oil.

You can use any type of sesame oil. I tried a recipe with a sesame /soy oil that did not work well, so i recommend using 100% sesame oil. The green bottle that’s generally available in the ethnic section of a supermarket is good. I’ve also been successful with random sesame oils from asian markets, too.

Salt

Salt is generally for a little more flavor in the noodles. I did, however, try a recipe with 2% salt, and it made the dough very tough (to a point that i couldn’t pull it). I recommend about .3% salt (which comes out to 1 gram in my recipe).

Lye Water


If you read through forums about hand pulled noodles, you’ll read about “lye water” and “kansui powder”. I was unable to find anything called “kansui powder”, but i did find lye water. Most asian markets have it alongside the oil and soy sauce related ingredients.

Lye water is supposed to be the secret ingredient in hand pulled noodles. I’ve tried recipes with it and without it, and it does not make the dough any easier to pull. There’s almost no difference in the dough when using lye water, although if you use too much, you’ll get something a lot like when you add too much salt. The dough will be too tough to pull. I’ve come to a happy ground with about 1% lye water in my dough.

What lye water DOES add is a nice bit of chewiness to the noodles. The flavor is supposed to be slightly different, too, but i haven’t noticed that yet. I’m always just happy that i was able to make some noodles :D

I’ll post two recipes, one with lye water, and one without. You can be the judge.