• Just at home, pulling noodles, being happy. (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
Don’t be a sucker and knead the dough, just let it rest and the gluten will form itself.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

7 Aug 2020 - 11:20 AM  UPDATED 10 Aug 2020 - 5:06 PM

It takes a long time to become a Chinese pulled noodle master. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near there yet, and the ugly noodles that were born out of this experiment are proof of that. But what I am saying, is that you can shortcut a little bit of it by achieving dough with a good texture by switching effort for time.

When you mix flour and water, proteins in the flour are hydrated and bond together, forming what we know as gluten. A longer resting time for certain dough - pasta, or roti - allow the proteins to relax and become easily stretched.

To make a good hand-pulled noodle you need a combination of both: plenty of gluten and a well-rested dough.

I decided to try out a long rest no-knead method for some biangbiang mian (biang biang noodles) named for the sound they make when you stretch and bounce them off the bench - “biang, biang”.

It worked out pretty well, and while nowhere near as good as a professional would make in a restaurant, these definitely hit the spot and offered a solid toothsome chew. Next time I’d like to get them even thinner but if you, like me, are a noodle-making novice, then rest assured knowing that these fall under the category of still-good-even-when-bad. Like a pizza or a tray of brownies, they’ll taste great even if they come out a bit misshapen, promise.

How to make pulled noodles (for two)

Take 2 cups of strong/bread flour, 1 tsp of salt and ½ to ¾ cup of water. Add ½ cup water first, then the rest gradually to form a smooth dough. You might not need it all depending on all sorts of factors like how humid it is where you live or how heavily you packed the cups. If the dough is too dry and not coming together then add more. You want it firm, but smooth, like pasta dough.

Cover and rest overnight on the bench or up to three nights in the fridge (just let it come to room temp before pulling).

Slice the dough into little slabs for pulling and coat them in neutral oil so they don’t dry out. Set aside.

Take one of the slabs, roll it out a little, then push the rolling pin (or a pen or something else small and round) into the centre, lengthways, to make a slight dent (this is where you’ll rip the noodles in half from eventually).

Take each end of the dough and gently stretch it. As it lengthens, shake your hands up and down and slowly move them apart as the noodle stretches. If it’s stretching unevenly, just go and work on those sections.

Once you reach the desired thickness, rip the noodles in half from the middle using the seam, which should create a loop. Set aside and repeat until you’re done.

Cook noodles in salted, boiling water til for 2-3 minutes, then drain and rinse just briefly under cold water (to stop them cooking further and avoid them turning claggy). 

Use in soups, stir-fries or top with sauce. I like them tossed with equal parts soy, zhi ma jiang (Chinese roasted sesame paste) and chilli oil, and some sliced spring onions and/or coriander.

Sauce it.

If you try it out at home, tag us at @sbsfood. 

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @cammienoodle

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