Tuesday, December 7, 2010
They need that many o's because they are extra long. Also because I had extra fun making them. Pete got the pre-turkeyday video he shot edited up, and it is now on youtube. Unfortunately, I don't have any still shots of this yet, but I'll link to any Pete puts up, they're all on his camera.
Dec 15th- Now with more pictures! Yay!
The recipe for this is very approximate. It goes something like this: Take about a cup and a half of water, and a half teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of oil, and put them in a mixing bowl, or do what I did and use your bread machine. Start mixing in bread flour. Keep adding flour gradually until the dough pretty much doesn't want to accept any more flour. Knead it until it's smooth, then put it in tupperware and leave it to sit on the counter overnight. In the morning, poke the dough. If it feels pretty sticky, turn it out and knead in about another 1/4 cup of flour. Knead it as smooth as you can get it, then put it back in its airtight box for at least 8 hours. You don't have to use bread flour, Dad never did. That's just what I always have most of.
Here's the video. It shows what to do with the dough. I have some things to say about it: WOW do I sound dorky...please ignore the audio, it is entirely irrelevant. Also, it has been edited down a great deal, because rolling a glob of dough 25 times or something is very boring to watch. Dad had a 5 or 6 foot piece of plywood set up on legs in the basement for doing this; we wrapped the dining room table with cling film. The thing I'm using to roll it out with is a dowel pete got at Fred Meyer. For true authenticity, you should saw the handle off a shop broom, sand most of the paint away and use it. Yes, Dad did do that.
On a more practical note-
1. Sprinkle on lots of flour in between rollings, or the dough will stick to itself. The expansion of the dough is caused primarily by pushing the dough out towards the ends of the dowel as you roll, rather than by squashing downwards.
2. It would be better to leave the dough for longer than 8 hours in the second resting period if at all possible. You can't see it well in the video, but my dough had a strong desire to shrink back up. If you leave it longer than overnight, refrigerate it so it doesn't ferment. I seem to remember there being noodle and potsticker dough resting for days at a time in the fridge when I was a kid.
3. The dough is slightly less than 1/16th" thick when it's done. Try to cut them no wider than 1/4".
4. That oil is HOT! Be careful of the steam! Don't drop the noodles in from a great height, or you will splash boiling oil on you! Get close to the oil surface, release the noodles, and get your hand out of the way. Yes it is rather dangerous, that's why I made my brother do it.
5. They will cook in less than 15 seconds. The wire strainer thing is for corralling the noodles into a disk as they crisp up, as well as for getting them out at the end.
Incidentally, chow mein was not the primary use for these noodles when we were kids, or at least, not how they were eaten by just our family. Dad did his crazy illegal catering thing, and people had him make chow mein for that, but usually the reason he made noodles for us was birthdays. Instead of frying them, he boiled them like any other fresh pasta, and put on a very salty sauce made with soy sauce, hoisin, ham bits, green onions, sesame, and garlic. These were 'chang sho mein', that is, long life noodles. The length of the noodles is supposed to be auspicious, and the correct protocol is to slurp them up without biting them to pieces.
Addendum: We had breakfast with my chinese cousins this weekend. Henry said that I roll noodles just like my grandmother. This was astonishing to me, since I have no memory of her ever doing it, except maybe one time when she rolled the dough around the pin about one time to show that she still remembered how. I'm not sure that's a true memory, since I would have been very small. It seems that she taught my dad how to do it. And all this time, I just figured dad learned from some disreputable roadside noodle vendor in Shandong back in the dark ages.