Chewy Knife Cut Noodles
Updated: Aug 8, 2020
I'm not a trained chef. I've gotten good at cooking many things, but I admit there is still a lot to learn. The recipes I put up are modest, hopefully good, and real representations of what a dad with a full time job and three small kids can cook. If I can do it, you can do it.
As I get deeper and deeper into this project, I'm learning that cooking isn't as scary as I thought it was. Most things, are 1 bazillion times easier than I had expected them to be. Noodles are one of these things. It's absurd to me that all it takes is some water and flour to make the main ingredient in so many of the things we eat. Unless I'm making something with a specialty noodle, like japchae, I tend to make my own noodles. It's that easy - especially if you have a stand mixer (and it feels cool).
I miss a lot of things about living in Manhattan. Xi'an Famous Foods is in the top 5 things I miss most, simply because their spicy Biang Biang noodles are so, so, so, so, so, so, so, soooooooo good. Someone posted a picture of them online a few days ago and I've been thinking about them since. Mine was not the same, but it was pretty darn close.
First, I used Omnivore's cookbook for the chili oil and seasoned soy sauce (be careful about burning your red pepper flakes - keep the heat down!)
For the beef (2 lbs), I sliced half of a large onion and sauteed it in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until it was translucent. Then I added the ground beef and seasoned it with 1/4 cup of soy sauce and a few teaspoons of curry, and a tablespoon of minced garlic.
And the noodles... Ohhhh the noodles...
It takes about an hour to make them, but it's not difficult and totally worth it. This recipe is for cut noodles - I don't have the skills to hand pull my own noodles yet, but I expect this recipe could work for hand pulled as well. I dunno. Like I said, I'm not a pro.
I love chewy noodles. To make noodles extra chewy I add a tea spoon of baked baking soda. I can't explain the science, but my chemist co-blogger tells me it strengthens the gluten bonds (here's a 2010 NYT article about it). Some recipes add lye to accomplish the same result. Baked baking soda is simply baking soda, baked on a cookie sheet for an hour at 250. Don't touch it after - and cover the baking sheet in foil before adding the baking soda. I keep mine in a jar in the pantry with a food grade desiccant inside.
3 cups of bread flour (all purpose works too - but not as chewy)
About 3/4 cups of water (add more a little bit at a time if necessary)
1 teaspoon of baked baking soda
Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add flour, and baking soda together in the mixing bowl.
Add water, a little at a time, until dough comes together into a smooth ball - I work mine for about 8 minutes with the mixer
Place dough in a flour lined bowl and let rest on the counter for about 45 minutes to an hour.
After the dough has rested, remove and kneed by hand for 3-4 minutes. It should be a nice firm and smooth ball.
I work in batches and divide the dough into thirds - keeping the dough that I'm not using in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
Roll the dough thin - less than an 1/8" It's very elastic, so this may take some muscle
when the dough is flat, fold it up onto itself, flouring it, so it won't stick together.
Cut into your desired width - unfold - dust off flour and hang / throw in boiling water to cook.
To cook noodles, place in heavily salted boiling water for approx 5 minutes.