Nearly every region in China has its own versions of noodles. In the northeast and midwest noodles and other wheat products used to hold the place of rice today, and maybe still so in some families. Chinese are so in love and proud of their noodles some say Marco Polo came and learned it so Italians have their pasta today.
This is a northeastern recipe from my mum, it cannot be any simpler. It can be made from any kind of flour and anything can be added in, for example pureed spinach or mushrooms. I used 2/3 all-purpose and 1/3 wholemeal for this particular one. The only one thing to keep in mind is to use cold and as little as possible water, as northeastern noodles are to be firm instead of soft, just like al dente pasta. In the old days making noodles used to labour consuming because the hard dough had to be kneaded well then rolled paper thin being cut into noodles by a knife, but know with a pasta machine it is all too easy. And once you’ve tried the homemade noodles a few times, you would never be able to go back to the store bought dry packs.
Homemade Northeastern Noodles
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 250g of all purpose flour
- Cold or chilled water
- In a mixing bowl, use as little water as possible to mix the flour till a firm dough forms. It’s best to use your hands as by the time a dough forms from stirring with a spoon it’s already too soft.
- Knead hard for 5 to 8 minutes until dough becomes smooth, cover with Glad Wrap or damp cloth and rest for 30mins (good time for preparing the stuff to go with the noodles).
- Transfer to a flat surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about 1cm thick (you can separate the dough into 2 portions), then feed it to the pasta machine at the widest setting (1 on my machine).
- Fold the sheet a few times to 1cm thick then feed it to the machine again, repeat this a couple more times or until the sheet comes out smooth and without lumps. This helps the noodles become more firm.
- Feed the sheet through a thinner setting (4 or 5 on my machine) to get a smooth, thin sheet.
- Feed the thin sheet through the noodle cutter (wide or narrow up to your liking), collect with the mixing bowl, quickly sprinkle on some flour and toss until noodles are evenly coated and not stuck together. Done!
If not using a pasta machine then for Step 2 knead for a bit longer until dough is very strong, and instead of Step 3-6 just roll the dough into a paper thin sheet, sprinkle with flour to prevent sticking, loosely fold a few times to a manageable size then cut into noodles with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with more flour and toss slightly for even coating.
Fresh noodles should be either cooked or frozen immediately, they would dry out and crack soon if left outside. To freeze put them in sandwich bags by portion, they keep very well for months and don’t really change texture or flavours.
- Fill a pot with water and drizzle in some oil and salt, bring to a boil.
- Drop the noodles in and stir with chopsticks to prevent sticking (especially important if cooking frozen noodles).
- Bring to a boil again, stirring constantly so it doesn’t boil over, pour in a shot of cold water then bring to a boil again, turn off the heat and strain the noodles. Done.
Put them in a soup, mix them with a favourite sauce, stir fry them… Enjoy any way you like!
- 250g 中筋麵粉