Hand Pulled Noodle Soup

It wasn’t known for sure until recently, but archaeological evidence has confirmed that the noodle was invented in Ancient China. The oldest ever found were made out of millet, which is hard for me to imagine. This recipe is much easier than that prehistoric version, following the later Northern Chinese tradition of cooking with wheat.

With refined wheat flour, making hand made noodles and an amazing soup to go with them (in this case a pork bone broth with greens) is really very simple. It just takes time, time to build a flavorful broth, and time for the gluten to develop in the pasta dough to make it elastic and stretchable.

 

PORK BONE BROTH WITH GREENS

2-3 lbs. assorted pork bones and feet
1 stalk lemongrass
1 onion
1/2 a head garlic
1 small nub of ginger
1 bunch Choy Sum greens and stem (or substitute any Asian green and broccoli stems)
water to cover 
Scallions and herbs to garnish

Reserve 1/2 the onion, the greens, and the garnishes. To make the broth, simply add all remaining ingredients to a heavy pot, add a little salt and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down to just barely a simmer.  Cook on low for 6 hours, or overnight, then pour through a mesh strainer and reserve.

To finish the soup, dice the onions and choy sum stem and saute them for a few minutes, then addthe greens until wilted and finally pour the broth back into the pot. Bring up to a simmer for 10-15minutes.

 

HAND PULLED WHEAT NOODLES

400g All purpose flour
9oz water
1 tbsp. salt

Don’t be intimidated. These easy, delicious, homemade noodles are almost impossible to screw up if you have enough time to wait.  We’re making an incredibly simple, but well kneaded dough, and resting it for a long time at room temperature to allow the gluten to develop and make the dough really stretchy and well. . . glutenous!

By hand, or more fun, with chopsticks, stir the flour and salt together, then add the water just a few tablespoons at a time, stirring and scraping constantly to slowly and evenly mix, until a loose shaggy dough has formed.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead it vigorously for 10-15 minutes. This is a somewhat sticky dough.  If it becomes too sticky to knead, dust lightly with flour,cover with the empty bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes before continnuing.  Don’t skimp on the kneading. You need this dough to be really stretchy and elastic.

Chopsticks didn’t come into use until the Han Dynasty, contemporary with Roman times in the west, but before they were eating utensils, they were cooking tools, stirrers and scrapers as seen here.

Now cover the dough and let relax at room temperature for 2 hours.  To test if its ready, pinch a little edge of it and see if it stretches to paper thin without breaking.  If the dough breaks easily, let rest for another hour or as long as necessary.

When ready, divide the dough into four equalish pieces and knead into balls.  Roll each into a flat oval no thicker than a 1/4 inch. Cover with damp towels or plastic and let rest and relax for another 45 minutes.

Pictured: R and R

Now is a good time to “finish the soup” as seen in the first recipe above and bring a pot of water to rapid boil.

After the final rest of your dough sheets, cut them into strips proportional to desired thickness of your noodle. Pick it up and literally just stretch it out into a noodle over the boiling water and drop it in.  If enough gluten development has happened, it should just pull like magic. Don’t worry if some break into shorter pieces along the way.

Work 1/2 a sheet at a time, keeping remaining dough covered to prevent it drying out.

To serve, simply place the noodles in a bowl, and ladle the pork and greens broth over them until covered. Garnish with scallions, herbs, or anything you want.

Hand made noodle soup.  The deceptively simple broth is just packed with deep flavor from cooking all day. Delicious, perfect for coating the noodles as you sllllurrp them up.

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I may have cheated and added some chili oil as a spicy topping, not strictly authentic to Ancient China, but too tasty to pass up.  

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