Imagine you’re walking towards some street food hawker stalls…. as you approach, your nasal sensory receptors are hit by a diffusion of aromatic air coming from a broth that is boiling away. The tantalising aroma then directs your eyes to a glossy skinned chicken or duck, hanging alongside as well as noodles and some condiments on a nearby transparent glass board. Around you are other stalls with tables already set with chopsticks and chilli infused soy sauce or vinegar. And you can see people sitting there slurping away at their delicious noodles in a big bowl of steaming hot broth. MY OH MY !!
I love my noodles served in a big bowl of aromatic clear broth, but with no vegetables, only meat. So good !
Noodles are a staple food for the Chinese. A quick look on Google gives me the idea that noodles originated in mainland China, and were brought into Malaya (as Malaysia was previously known) by Chinese via Malacca as traders and merchants, or as prospectors looking for work in the tin mines and rubber plantations. And up to this day, noodles are still very famous among the Chinese in Malaysia. Too bad I cannot enjoy noodles at the Chinese restaurant or hawker stalls as I am not sure of the ingredients, i.e. pork. But as this culinary journey evolves, many restauranteurs are now aware of this and have started promoting halal Chinese food, mostly in the up market restaurants, thus providing an opportunity for expanding their business too.
I’ve seen some Chinese restaurants make them fresh to order and indeed they are making it the traditional way. I am assuming it is hard work, especially for the arms, and energy consuming; lots of folding and twisting and pulling to eventually create a smooth and silky yet strong string of noodles. As I was so intrigued by this, I decided to make my own noodles following the traditional method, and by that I mean without a noodle making machine. So, out of the many types of noodles, shapes, lengths and textures, I decided to make egg noodles, simply because it seems easier than the rest.
There are many recipes out there, and they are more or less the same, all calling for four standard ingredients; which are flour, salt, eggs and water; all basic pantry items. But I decided to use bread flour because of the higher protein content that helps to strengthen the noodles and to give an elastic texture. And because of that, I can skip the use of alkaline water that is used widely in commercial noodles, contributing to a bitter after taste. Another thing, I added turmeric powder to my noodle dough to give it some colour, rather than just pale noodles. Trust me, it is not rocket science!
Egg Noodles ***** 300gm (3 cups) bread flour / all purpose flour 5 gm (1 teaspoon) salt 1 egg 2 gm (1/2 teaspoon) turmeric powder (optional) 150ml (slightly less than 1 cup) water ***** Mix bread flour, salt and turmeric powder. Make a well in the middle and add the egg. Mix the egg with flour in a circular motion, working from the inside towards the outside. Add the water little by little to the mix. Use the base of your palm to knead the dough, making sure all ingredients are well combined and smooth, around 5 to 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap with cling film, rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Next, bring out the dough, pat with a rolling pin for 5 minutes. Reshape again into a ball, wrap with cling film and rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes. *This step is mainly to relax the gluten, so it will be easier to roll in the next steps* Then, divide the dough into two, wrap one half with cling film and keep in the fridge. Roll the other half on a surface that is dusted with flour. It's a bit difficult at the beginning, but keep rolling the dough until it becomes thin, but not paper thin. Between rolling, make sure to dust the dough and surface with flour every now and then. Once you reach the desire thickness, fold the noodle sheet. Using a sharp knife, cut your noodle sheet into thin strips. Slowly, unfold the noodles to get the long stringy shapes. Again, dust it with flour to prevent from sticking. **You can continue with another half, or freeze it for later use** Now its ready for you 🙂 ***** Serving suggestion: Boil water in a pot, adding a generous amount of salt. Once boiling, add the noodles, blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, then drain in a sieve. Drizzle a bit of oil to prevent from sticking, and you're ready to be serve with any gravy or broth, or for frying too. ***** Storing suggestion: This recipe yields around 1kg of egg noodles. If you are not cooking it straight away, skip the blanching and keep in an airtight container and freeze. Keep up to three months. Always freeze in portions for use later. Then, when you are ready to cook it, take out and blanch it straight away as per serving suggestion. *****
After all the hard work of preparing these noodles, it was so satisfying to have them with my favourite homemade chicken broth. And with that, I am looking forward to exploring more noodle recipes but surely, I’ll use the noodle maker next time !!