Chinese Handmade Noodles
I remember my first week in Guangzhou, I had followed my mother to a small dingy building, two corners away from our apartment. I remember asking her, if this was was where we would buy vegetables. She ignored me and continued going in. It was tiled from the top to bottom, what was perhaps white had decayed to being grey with pieces chipped here and there. It was bustling inside, in contrast to the relatively empty pavement outside. I guess it was around 11 in the morning and everyone had to be working. My mother smiled to the vendors and they smiled back greeting in Mandarin. She took out her brown old dairy, where she had written some pieces of mandarin in English and said words that were spring onions and tomatoes. I remember going around the small building, it turns out it had another floor. That was where all the animals lived, there were water snakes, eels, fish, tortoise all swimming separately in there little tanks. Thick purple chunks of beef and full pigs hanging from nails. It was also the first time I had seen a turtle being cut live and shelled from its bones, I remember staring at the woman cutting so much she put on a little drama and flair while cutting just for me. I smiled and moved on quickly.
Just a little further separated from all the animals was a woman seated in a stool kneading dough on a wooden slab in front of her. There were fresh un-cooked noodles hanging behind her and tiny packets of polythenes to give her customers. I don’t know why this fascinated me so much, it was obvious that a country with such population were not all buying instant noodles or making fresh ones at home. Our Chinese neighbour Lee Tan, went every morning, sometimes accompanying us. She told me it was almost a tradition where everyone would buy little portions of fresh vegetables and noodles in the morning so that it would last them a day.
This is something that has stuck with me since. The idea of buying things fresh and in small quantities, but also how amazing that woman looked while kneading her noodles! I wanted to be just like her! I started making out my own noodles when I started working last year. I made this crazy yum spinach noodles with green onion and garlic sauce with chilli oil. I got so excited about them, I made a batch of dough early in the morning, went to work and rolled it out on the studio counter. I don’t have a machine back in Bangalore, like I do in Dehradun so I cut the noodles myself. There are some insane videos on youtube that you can check out, I think they are quite impossible for my to do, I tried cutting my noodles on a rolling pin but I find it impossible. So, I just took out a ruler, measured it out and sliced my dough with my chefs knife.
Recipe for Chinese Handmade Noodles
300 grams all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
125 ml water
Add flour and salt in a bowl and mix.
Slowly add water and keep kneading with your hands till you add water. (Much like making roti)
The mixture might be shaggy but keep kneading.
Once the dough has formed into a ball knead by hand.
Rest your dough for 30 minutes.
Once it has rested, knead your dough for another 2-3 minutes and form it into a ball.
Cut the ball into half
Flour your surface and half of the dough into a thin sheet about 2mm using your rolling pin. Keep flouring throughout otherwise it will stick to your surface. Flip your dough and flour the other side along with the counter.
Fold your dough into four layers, one on top of each other.
Slice your noodles with and separate with your hands (OR: You can use a ruler, measure out the width you desire and just slice through the layers with your knife.)
Toss them in flour so they don’t stick.
Take a pot and boil your water, add salt.
Cook the noodles for 1-3 minutes. (I usually taste them to see if they’re cooked)