[Photograph: Vicky Wasik. Video: Serious Eats Team]
In the quest for an approachable hand-pulled lamian noodle recipe for the home cook, there’s no shame in turning to science. The goal of any thin hand-pulled noodle dough is repeatable extensibility, which is easier to describe than it is to achieve. Here—as in many noodle shops around the world—we use a dough relaxer to make the stretching process much easier and much, much faster. And while some shops use industrial-grade dough enhancers with all sorts of scary names, this recipe uses a natural ingredient that you can readily find at grocery stores or purchase online: nutritional yeast.
You’ll be able to stretch this dough, but it still takes practice to pull the actual noodles when the time comes. But don’t let that scare you: This is a very forgiving dough, and you can practice pulling noodles over and over again to gain muscle memory and confidence before flouring and cooking off a batch of homemade pulled noodles. Be sure to use bread flour with at least 12% protein content—any lower, and the dough will get too sticky and the noodles will lack both structure and chew.
Why It Works
- High-protein bread flour produces noodles with plenty of chew, and enough elasticity in the dough to prevent breakage when stretching.
- Nutritional yeast contains glutathione, a naturally occurring dough reducer that relaxes gluten and produces a dough with repeatable extensibility in a fraction of the time that it takes using a more traditional method.
- Oil keeps the dough from sticking to your hands when pulling noodles, and also contributes to its overall extensibility.
- Repeated twisting and stretching aligns gluten in a linear direction, so that each successive stretch becomes straighter, more even, and increasingly seamless.
- 425g (15 ounces; 3 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 28g (1 ounce; 1/2 cup) nutritional yeast
- 4g (1 teaspoon) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 285g (10 ounces; 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) cool water
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, nutritional yeast, and salt together to combine. With processor running, add water and oil and process until dough forms and runs around processor blade, about 30 seconds.
Transfer dough to clean counter. Knead dough until smooth. Roll, knead, and stretch dough, doubling back after each stretch, until dough begins to stretch without tearing, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stretch dough to arm’s-length, then bring ends together to twirl dough into even, twisted log (roll dough on counter after twisting to even out thicker areas). Repeat stretching and twirling until dough pulls full arm’s-length with no resistance and no tearing, about 10 minutes longer. Roll dough into an even log shape.
If you plan to pull and cook the noodles immediately, dust the counter liberally with flour and bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. If you would like to practice the noodle-pulling technique, do not flour the counter and proceed with the pulling instructions. Flouring the noodles is a point of no return—once floured, they must be cooked. If the dough is not floured, you can practice the pulling technique over and over without harming the dough. Gently roll dough log in flour, then use a bench scraper to divide dough into 3 equal portions.
Working with one piece at a time, shape into 15-inch log. Holding log at both ends, stretch to about 30 inches in length. (The following instructions are written for right-handed people; invert them if you are left-handed.) Bring right end of dough to left hand, forming loop. Using free right hand, gently tug and pull dough from midpoint of loop in fluid motion to about 30 inches. Move dough through floured surface to keep from sticking.
Bring right end of dough to left hand and gently bunch dough ends together, forming another loop of 4 strands. Using free right hand, gently tug and pull dough from midpoint of loop in fluid motion to about 30 inches. Move dough through floured surface to keep from sticking. Repeat process 2 to 3 more times until noodles are about ⅛ inch in diameter.
Use bench scraper or knife to cut and separate noodles from small clump of dough in left hand. Immediately transfer portion of finished noodles to the pot of boiling water, and cook, stirring with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking, until noodles are cooked through but still chewy, 30 to 45 seconds. Drain noodles thoroughly using a fine-mesh strainer or noodle basket, shaking off as much excess water as possible, then transfer to a serving bowl with hot broth.
Repeat stretching, pulling, and cooking steps with remaining two portions of dough. A fourth portion of noodles can be pulled from excess dough scraps if desired. Knead, stretch, and twirl excess scraps of dough into even log, roll in flour, and repeat pulling process. Serve cooked noodles immediately.
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