Handmade noodles play a leading role in Chinese home meals. They only require three humble ingredients to prepare, but the ways to enjoy them are various: boiled in broth to make a ramen, stir-fried with vegetables and meat, mixed with sauce to make a noodle salad, etc. It is a perfect example of the saying: the best food only requires the simplest ingredients to make.
First time the handmade noodles caught my eyes was when my grandma made them. I remembered staring at her for a good 15 minutes while she repeated the movements of rolling and folding the dough. When she finally unfolded the thin layer of the paste and cut it into long noodles, I was shocked with my eyes wildly open. I was so convinced that she had put a magic on that piece of small dough!
THE HANDMADE NOODLES IN ITALY
After moving to Italy, I had done some gourmet tours and been thrilled to discover that certain restaurants in the country farms are still preparing their own long pasta by hand.
The scene of pasta making was the same as I recorded how my grandma making the noodles: an old lady in the kitchen, mixing the flour, with absolutely no help from any measuring tools (that was how I learned the Italian expression "cucinare con gli occhi" cook with your eyes). Then using a long rolling pin, she would fold, roll, unfold, dust flour, and roll again. After repeating these movements for a while, she would present a paper-thin layer of paste and cut it into tagliatelle. Seeing her work, the clients would exclaim "wow" to that piece of handcrafted art and couldn't resist to order it!
THE HOMEMADE & HANDMADE PASTA
Certainly, these days it is much convenient to buy packed dry noodles. But I still want to give the homemade noodles, as well as the hand-rolled tagliatelle, a shout-out! Especially because this is a dish existing in the same form in both Chinese and Italian cuisines. You may call it by different names and cook it your local ways. But the old-fashioned recipe of this dish has a special meaning to me, as it brings closer my home country and the land I am currently living in. So as the two cuisines.
HANDMADE CHINESE NOODLES 手擀面Course: FIRST COURSECuisine: ChineseDifficulty: Low
All purpose flour: 300g
A large surface (such as a marble table, a big wooden board, or any smooth surface that prevents the dough from sticking)
- MIXING AND RESTING THE DOUGH 和面+醒面
- Put the flour into a big bowl, then gradually adding water while mix it with the flour. Rub the flour between your fingers to make sure the water is evenly absorbed by the flour.
- Once all the water are absorbed, start to mix the flour until you get a solid dough.
- At this point, the dough should have a very rough surface and cracky texture. Cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and rest it for 20 minutes.
- (After 20 minutes) continue to knead the dough until the surface turns smooth. Cover it back with the plastic wrap and rest it for 60 minutes.
- ROLLING THE DOUGH 擀面
- Lightly dust the surface of your platform and knead the dough. Using the rolling pin to first extend the dough from center towards edges. In the meanwhile try to give the dough a rectangular shape.
- Turn the dough 90° and keep extend it from center towards edges. Dust extra flour any time it becomes sticky.
- Once the dough has been rolled into bigger size paste, scroll it from one end towards the other using the rolling pin.
- Put your hands gently on the scrolled paste positioning closer to the ends, and start rolling the rolling pin. At the same time, you should give a gentle strength to extend the paste along the rolling pin.
- Unfold the paste, dust a little flour and scroll it again. Repeat the last step until you get a layer with the thickness you want.
- CUTTING THE NOODLES 切面
- Divide the paste into two portions. Take one portion and fanfold it.
- Using a knife to cut the noodles into width of 5mm/ 10mm/ or other width you prefer.
- Open up the noodles and lay them on the surface with some space among them.
- Dust flour onto the noodles in order to prevent them attaching to each other. They are ready to be cooked.
- HOW TO PRESERVE FRESH NOODLES
- Divide the noodles into small portions.
- Gather them into a plastic bag leaving enough space among each portion.
- Leave them in the freezer all night (or at least 4 hours). Take it out right before you would like to consume.
There are countless ways to enjoy a bowl of noodles. But the very typical Chinese way is noodles in soup! In the next post, I will share with you a recipe of beef broth. It would be the perfect match to our handmade noodles!