Lessons in Flour, pt. 1


Following along with Maureen Evans’ tweeted recipes in the Times, I ventured onto her Kashgar Noodles.  I imagined that these are the same hand-pulled noodles that I see being stretched and banged around at the noodle restaurants in Chinatown, a fascinating piece of theater in the grubbiest joints.  Noodles, especially Asian noodles, are so cheaply omnipresent, that I would never think to make them.  It’s like milking my own cow.  But now, I can attempt the role of bad ass noodle maker on the stage of The Littlest Kitchen.

Of course, it didn’t play out as such.  I had no idea on how to make pasta, having never made it in my life.  When I tried to pinch and pull the noodles, they would fall apart instead of behave like trained elastic bands.  Further inexperience was rolling out the dough, not with a rolling pin (which I do not own), but with an empty wine bottle.
From a little bit of research, I learned that the thinner the dough the better (duh), and when she says “cut crosswise”, that means make them long (double duh).  With the first round of dough, I did neither ending up with something more akin to spaetzle.  Eventually, ingenuity won over ineptitude, to make something surprisingly good for something out of nothing – flour, water, egg, salt, and an empty wine bottle.


Beyond the basic noodle recipe in 140 characters, I’m left alone on what to cook with them.  The first try is as soup noodles using Nina Simonds’ Mushroom-Beef Udon Soup recipe from Asian Noodles, my thick-ish noodles being very similar to rope-y udon.  The soup is a dashi based broth (another something out of nothing) simmered with mushrooms and scallions, topped with marinated beef and spinach.  The noodles held up to the sturdy soup, and if they weren’t so ugly and deformed, they could go pro.

Since I was never going to make perfect noodles, I thought that it could take a rougher treatment in a stir fry.  Using the marinated beef from the soup, sauteed with garlic and ginger, these made a great lo-mein, with the addition of snow peas and tofu.  The wonkiness of the noodles went well with the fresh mess and freestyle that lo mein or chow fun  allows.  Wider surface area meant for more marinade absorption and the opportunity for crispy, browned effect.  I may not be ready to thwack the noodles at the Chinese restaurant, but I can certainly be their fry cook.


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