La Mian: Hand-Pulled Chinese Noodles--Incredible Demonstration

Soup and Noodles

What are hand-pulled noodles? Chinese pulled noodles are art. Instead of making noodle dough and then rolling it out and having to cut it into individual strips, La Mian noodles are formed by hand, through a system of pulling, twisting, and stretching out the dough. As if by magic, the noodles appear in long strands, ready to be cooked.

How Chinese Hand-Pulled Noodles Are Made

La Mian noodles are made from a dough that needs heavy kneading. The dough has to be stretched and folded. This is done to align the gluten fibers and to prepare the dough for further stretching, twisting, and shaping.

The noodle dough is cut into portions. The end pieces are set aside or discarded because the glutens in these are not aligned. Each piece is now ready to be made into Chinese noodles.

Each dough portion is first rolled into an oblong and then pulled out to arm's length. The dough is spun so that it twists and is then looped, joining the two ends, thus the dough is now split. Fingers are inserted into the newly formed loop to keep the dough sides from sticking. The dough has to be pulled out and stretched, then looped, as necessary (with flour added to keep the dough from sticking). With each stretching and looping action, numerous dough strands (noodles) form.

This hand-pulling technique, used to form noodles without having to cut them, goes back centuries.

Hand-Pulled Noodles

What is the Noodle Dough Made Of?

The noodle dough used for hand-pulled Chinese noodles is made with cake/pastry flour, enriched flour, sesame oil, water and an ingredient called pung qui, an alkaline that helps to make noodles springy. The gluten fibers are developed by different methods, as mentioned above.

While the noodle dough can be made by hand, because it requires heavy kneading, it is easier to make it with a Kitchen Aid, which cuts down on preparation time and labor. Using an appliance with a dough hook can make the whole process much easier.

The resultant dough has to be wet and stretchy, to avoid tearing when working with it.

Different Methods Used to Form Chinese Pulled Noodles

  • Slapping--Some methods utilize no twisting and the dough is slapped to aid in evenness of dough.
  • Stretching--Thicker dough portions are grabbed and stretched out to ensure evenness of hand pulled noodles.
  • Twisting--Other methods use twisting of the dough to develop gluten fibers.
  • Lengthening--Some Chinese noodle makers swing out the noodle dough to increase its length beyond the span of their outstretched arms.

La Mian

Have You Ever Tried Making Hand-Pulled Noodles?

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Want to Try your Own Hand Pulled Noodles?

2 cups cake flour or part regular flour and part cake flour

1 tsp. salt

A shake of baking soda

A little oil

Warm water to make a moist dough

Combine ingredients in bowl and knead for 20 minutes. This step is critical to the dough becoming elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for another 20 minutes.

Follow the steps outlined in the video: swinging, dropping and twirling the dough until, when you pull a piece, it doesn't tear; then continue working to form noodles.

Cook in boiling water for 2 minutes and toss with a little oil, to prevent noodles sticking.

Chinese Soup With Noodles

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Comments 3 comments

Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green 5 years ago from West Kootenays Author

Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this technique looks like it would take time to master. I'm dying to try making my homemade noodles this way. Hand-pulled Chinese noodles look to be one of the best methods to create even, long noodles.

telltale profile image

telltale 5 years ago

Good description on the technique of getting the noodles stretched, but in reality, I don't think it is that easy. Have seen numerous Chinese Chefs doing it the 'hard' way, having to prepare the dough by hand... would love to try it someday. Thanks for the hub!

W.R. Shinn profile image

W.R. Shinn 5 years ago

Ooooh! I just LOVE food! Thanks for the tips!

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