Nothing compares to the slippery silkiness of handmade noodles. Freshly rolled and cut wheat flour dough strikes the ideal balance between tender and chewy.
In Cantonese, there’s a word for that noodle perfection — ngun — that’s as hard to translate as it is to pronounce if you’re not a native speaker. It’s not exactly al dente because there’s no bite in the center, but that’s the closest approximation.
Getting to that state of bliss is actually really straightforward. The only ingredients are flour, salt and water, and the resulting dough is easy to knead and roll.
You need just enough water to bring the dry ingredients together; wet dough makes for floppy, soft noodles. When you’re mixing the dough, add the water a bit at a time. Flour takes time to absorb liquid, so you’ll gather the scraggly dry flecks into the mix, which will ultimately hydrate during kneading and resting.
You can roll the dough with a rolling pin or use a pasta machine. Either way, you want the sheets as thin as possible because they expand when boiling. You don’t need any additional flour while rolling because the dough is dry. In fact, flouring a rolling pin and surface will cause the dough to slip and slide, making it harder to flatten to bed-sheet thickness.
However, you do need lots of flour when cutting the dough. To get long, even noodles, fold the dough over and over onto itself. Get a generous coating of flour between the layers. If you don’t, they’ll all stick together when you cut through them. The flour will help the rolls of noodles unravel easily.
If you have time, you can lay them out to dry for a few hours at room temperature, but you can boil them right away too.
Because they’re fresh, they take only two to three minutes to soften. To test for doneness, bite into one: There shouldn’t be a raw center. Drain well, then rinse under cold running water to wash off the excess flour and to keep the noodles from overcooking to mush. Do this even if you’re going to ultimately eat them in a hot soup or stir-fry.
From-scratch noodles may not be an everyday treat, but it’s a fun cooking project that will give you a taste of how delicious fresh noodles can be.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup cold filtered water
Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl using chopsticks or a fork. While stirring, add water in thirds, letting each addition incorporate before adding the next. Keep stirring until dough forms large, shaggy clumps with dry bits remaining.
Use your hand to knead the dough in the bowl into a single mass while gathering all the dry bits. Once dough forms a ball, transfer it to a clean work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 8 hours.
Cut dough in half and cover 1 piece with plastic wrap again.
Roll other piece into a rectangle as thin as possible. Generously dust dough’s surface with flour and fold in half lengthwise. Dust top with more flour and fold again. Repeat until you have a folded stack of dough about 3 inches wide.
Transfer dough to a well-floured cutting board and cut into thin strips (1/8- to 1/2-inch) using a sharp knife. The noodles will expand to about twice their width, so cut according to your desired size. Unravel noodles and place on a rack or floured surface to dry out. Repeat with remaining dough. If you have time, let noodles dry a few hours.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold running water until cool, then drain again. Use immediately. Serves 4.
>> Make Ahead: Dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 6 hours before rolling. The cut noodles can be air-dried at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
USE YOUR homemade noodles in this savory, spicy and tangy Sichuan- style cold dish.
SPICY CHILI CRISP NOODLES
- Homemade noodles
- Finely chopped fresh cilantro, for serving
- >> Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 1/2 cup chili crisp sauce (sold in Asian markets, or use another chili sauce)
Mix sauce ingredients in large bowl. Add cold noodles and toss until evenly coated. Serve topped with cilantro. Serves 4.
Nutritional information unavailable.