How To Make Hand-Pulled Noodles
Q: Pulling noodles is really hard. Have any tips to make it easier?
A: A few, yes.
- Leave out the baking soda (or lye water) from the recipe. This ingredient is for texture, but it does make the dough a bit tougher.
- Find a way to get the dough nice and warm. Perhaps some time in the oven (wrapped up) or in the microwave will help. Experiment with this, and if you find a helpful tip, let me know!
- Find a stand mixer to knead your dough. This will make things A LOT easier. Borrow one from a friend, or find a culinary school where you can use one. I've posted on my blog about this, and I have a friend who made a video about how to do it.
Q: The dough is tearing. Have I over-kneaded the dough?
A: Nope. You haven't kneaded it enough, actually. You've got to knead it and knead it and knead it and knead it and .... you get the idea. It takes a lot of work!
Q: How many people will your recipe feed?
A: Somewhere between two and three people. It depends largely on how much waste you end up with, and how you serve the noodles.
Q: What if I want the recipe in cups?
A: I HIGHLY recommend getting yourself a scale and measuring ingredients by weight. The precision you get out of using weight is very useful for delicate recipes like this. If you've want to convert the recipe to volume, Google can help you, but you'll be interoducing errors into the recipe that will make things harder for you.
Q: I can't find the flour you specify. What do I do?
A: I do not recommend whole wheat flour, but beyond that, use what is available to you to start. If you have a lot of flour options and don't know which to choose, I recommend picking the one with the lowest protein content. Keep in mind, also, that flours made for cakes and pastries will make dough that is easier to pull (which is why I have cake flour in my recipe).
If that doesn't work, and you have an asian market nearby, I recommend just picking out a few small bags of flour from there. Almost all the flours I've picked up from asian markets work well for making hand-pulled noodles.
Worst case scenario, you should be able to get the flour I recommend over the internet. The cake flour is available on Amazon, and I link to it below.
Q: I can't find cake flour. Can I just use regular flour?
A: I can't say for sure. It seems that flour is different depending on your location. I recommend just giving it a shot with what you can get your hands on. You can also order cake flour on Amazon here:
Q: Do I need to let the dough rest at all?
A: Not really, although I've read that a 10 minute break after it's loosened up is helpful.
Q: Can I save a batch of dough for later?
A: Yes. If you've made a batch of dough and you want to pull it later, you can put it in the fridge for safe keeping. The longest I've kept dough is 24 hours. Keep in mind that warm dough is easier to work with, so you'll have to spend some extra time warming it up after you pull it out of the fridge.
Q: I tried to pull the dough and failed. Can I try again or should I make a new batch of dough?
A: Try again! Expect your first few batches to be all "practice" batches. Don't flour the dough while you practice pulling. Just stretch the dough and see how many pulls you can do. You can attempt a pull, knead it back together, and attempt a pull for quite a while. I've practiced for over and hour on the same batch of dough. Just make sure to keep it nice and wet.
Q: If I double the dough volume, will it double the amount of kneading I have to do?
A: YES, if you do the kneading the way I specify, you'll spend twice as much time kneading, which I think is just too much. I think the twirling technique you see in so many videos is a better kneading process for larger batches of dough, though, and will get the job done a lot faster.
Until you are confident you can pull noodles, I recommend starting with the batch size in my recipe. You should expect your first few batches to be throw-away "practice" batches. It'll take multiple practice batches before you are able to actually make a meal by hand-pulling noodles.
Q: If I add something to the dough for texture (like cracked pepper), which it affect the pulling process?
A: Good question. I've never tried this. I recommend getting good at pulling without added ingredients first (it's not easy), and then you'll have a good baseline for whether the dough is affected by the modifications you've made to the recipe.
Q: Can I use a differenct kind of oil?
A: YES. I've been successful using vegetable oil as well as sesame oil. I ran into problems with soybean oil, though.
Q: Can I use a dough mixer?
A: Yup, and it will make your life a lot easier. I made a post about it here.
Q: Have there been studies on hand pulled noodle dough?
Q: I pulled some noodles and now I have a leftover wad of dough in my hand. What do I do with it?
A: You can pull that dough, too. Inevitably, though, you'll have some dough left over that you can just throw away.