How cool is this? This photo, from the White House flickr photostream, shows President Barack Obama participating in a noodle-making demonstration with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The noodle experiment took place while Obama was attending a dinner at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing, China, on November 16th.
The President did not, most likely, make the noodles by hand himself. But you can. In their most recent (fantastic) cookbook, Beyond the Great Wall, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have a great recipe for hand-pulled Kazakh noodles. Just turn the page.
From: Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
Makes: 1 1/2 pounds of noodles; serves 4 as a main course, or 6 as a soup course.
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for surfaces
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
about 3/4 cup lukewarm water
about 8 cups Kazakh goat broth (p. 44) or chicken broth
1. At least an hour before you want to serve the noodles, place the flour, salt and eggs in a food processor and process briefly. With the blades spinning, slowly pour the water through the feed tube until a ball forms (you may need slightly less or more than 3/4 cup). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. (Alternatively, place the flour, salt and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk or stir to combine them. Add 3/4 cup water and stir to mix it in. If the dough is still dry or stiff, mix in a little extra water. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes.)
2. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces on a lightly floured surface. Flatten each piece under the palms of your hands into a rectangle approximately 12 inches long and 3-4 inches wide. Use a sharp knife or metal dough scraper to cut the rectangles crosswise into strips just under 1/2 inch wide. Cover the dough with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
3. Before starting to stretch the noodles, lightly dust a large work surface with a little flour. You will then be able to dust the stretched noodles with a little flour to keep them from sticking, and you can lay the stretched noodles on the floured surface when they're shaped. (You could instead drape them on a rack or over the back of several wooden chairs.)
4. Pick up a dough strip and touch both sides of it to the floured surface, then pinch it gently near one end between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, holding it nearer the center with the thumb and index finger of your other hand. You'll be stretching it both by pinching it along its length and by pulling the pinched section gently away from where you're holding it in your other hand. Gradually work your way along the strip, pinching it and gently pulling your hands apart a little as you do, to flatten and stretch it. When the strip is 12-15 inches long, touch it again to the floured surface to dust it with flour, then lay it to one side of the floured surface. Repeat with the remaining dough strips.
5. Once all the noodles are shaped, bring the broth to a vigorous boil. Add the noodles, bring back to a boil, and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 6 minutes.
6. Use a mesh basket or tongs to lift the noodles out of the broth and into wide individual soup plates. Ladle broth over the noodles, and serve.