Hot and Tingly Hand-pulled Noodles
These noodles from the central China city of Xi’an are called ‘biang biang’ for the elastic noise they make as you stretch and slap the dough on your work surface.
For the noodles
200g Chinese dumpling flour or bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
For the seasoning
3 tablespoons oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Sichuan chili flakes
2 teaspoons Uyghur seven spice (see note)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon black vinegar
4 spring onions, sliced
scattering of coriander leaves
To make the noodle dough, put all the ingredients together in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Start mixing slowly, then as it comes together, increase the speed. Knead for 6 minutes, it should be smooth and very elastic - you should be able to pull it upwards to about 30cm long without it breaking. If it does, continue kneading for another 2-3 minutes. If it still breaks, add another tablespoon of water and knead again until you have the right consistency. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rest for an hour.
Oil your work surface and have a small bowl of oil at the side. With oiled hands, transfer the dough to the surface and roll in out to a rectangle about 1cm thick. Cut into 10 strips. Separate them, running an oily hand down each one. Working with one strip at a time, lay it on the work surface and use your palm to smash it out into a long flat noodle. Pick it up at the ends and gently lift up and down to stretch it out slightly. It should be thick and bouncy, not too thin. Transfer to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and sizzle until cooked through and fragrant (but not browned) then turn off the heat and add the chilli flakes and seven spice.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Drop the noodles into the water one by one, a few in the pan at a time, and cook until they float to the surface – it should take less than 30 seconds. Transfer with tongs to the oily pan and toss well. Add the soy sauce, black vinegar and spring onions and toss again.
Serve scattered with coriander leaves.
To make Uyghur seven spice, dry roast the following spices separately in a dry pan until fragrant (the cinnamon doesn’t need roasting). Grind together in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar. Store in a jar.
2 tablespoon cumin seeds , 1 ½ tablespoons black peppercorns , 1 ½ teaspoons Sichuan pepper , 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, seeds from 3 cardamom pods, 2 cloves, 2 star anise
Recipe: Eleanor Ford