Noodle Pulling Expert: Kampo
Jeremy Pang on Channel Four's Sunday Brunch
I don't know if any of you tuned into Channel Four’s Sunday Brunch to see our head chef Jeremy Pang demonstrating noodle pulling, but I couldn't believe my eyes! Basically Jeremy spoke us through the process as expert noodle puller, Kampo, took a lump of dough, twisted it a few times, slammed it against the table and produced hundreds of perfectly formed noodles. It was enough to make this muggle believe in magic, but like all good magicians Jeremy had a trick up his sleeve and I set myself the challenge of finding out what it was.
Noodle Pulling Q & A with Jeremy Pang
I finally managed to corner Jeremy at the School of Wok to fire some questions his way:
Q: Okay Jeremy, break it down for us. How do you essentially transform a lump of dough it hundreds of perfectly even noodles?
Jeremy: The first step is making the dough. You can use plain flour if you just want to play. For more elasticity, go for high gluten wheat flour. This is what the pros use, but it’s much harder to play with. You can get it from Loon Fung Supermarket in Chinatown London. So you want to mix 180 grams of flour, 110 millilitres of water, and little bit of salt. Knead it together roughly, so all the flour has been picked up by the water. Then press it down in a bowl and cover it with three tablespoons of oil. Once it’s ‘relaxed’ overnight, start kneading it for a minute.
Q: So when you say 'relax', is that because we don’t want our dough to be tense and stressed?
Jeremy: Yeh, it has to be chilled and ready to play! Now the second step is starting to knead and beat the dough up to get it as elastic as possible. I call this part 'The Whip'.
Q: So just when it thinks it can relax, you whip it into shape. Sounds like boot camp.
Jeremy: Noodle boot camp! Now once we’ve whipped it enough, we twist or plait it in a figure of eight motion to start creating the initial strands. You have to swap hands every time, so it doesn’t get thick on one side and thin on the other.
Q: Now we’re making noodles?
Jeremy: Not yet. This is more about creating consistency in thickness all the way through the strand. The next step: 'Threading' or 'Pulling' is where the real noodles start to form. It’s a combination of about 5 to 6 mini technical steps. What you are essentially doing is doubling the number of noodles each time. So if you do it 20 times you’ll get forty noodles. The mini techniques can be roughly broken up as follows:
A) Act quickly / but don't break the dough
B) Overlap your dough and start to pull
C) Add flour in between each 'pull'
D) Twist and pull your hands and arms apart, whilst giving the noodles a light shake to extend without breaking.
E) Use your middle fingers to hold onto the noodles, but do not apply too much pressure with the rest of your hands.
F) Repeat until noodles are thin enough and nice and long, but evenly divided.
Q: Great so now I’m even more confused than before.
Jeremy: Watch this video and it will all come clear.
So there you have it, noodle-pulling 101. It takes years to master, but what a great party trick to pull out the bag on a dull evening!