Biang Biang noodles(mian) are a famously delicious snack originating in Shanxi.
Picture the noodle dough being thrown loudly(Biang Biang) on the chopping board, stretched and rolled. People sit in the background, happy and relaxed while the cooked noodles are served, smooth and pleasant with vibrant red dried chili, green onion and vegetables.
This is a meal to be desired. A spoonful of hot oil is poured over chilis, and they sizzle, while the steam and a wonderful sweet fragrance rises from the bowl. When the hot oil is added to the chilis, spring onion, and garlic it combines their flavors, and along with the soy sauce and vinegar creates a flavorsome accompaniment for the noodles. You have enjoyed a feast which has satisfied all three senses without moving your chopsticks.
The key to a successful bowl of hot oil noodles lies in the dough stretching technique, so today we will focus on that. Pulling noodles, such as Lanzhou noodles, is quite challenging. As long as you follow the proportions in the dough recipe strictly and ensure you knead it correctly, you will succeed. On the other hand, when making Lanzhou noodles, the process can be quite tricky.
Let us begin preparing the dough (this recipe serves 2):
- 250g all-purpose (medium gluten content) flour. Many people think that flour with a higher gluten content, such as bread flour, is more suitable for the production of noodles. The opposite is true, however, because the high gluten content will cause the dough to be too elastic. The technique is to make the noodles slack. Some food lovers find it easier to pull and shape the product with low-gluten flour, however the problem is that this weakens the noodles causing them to break easily. Flour with a medium gluten content provides just the right balance to ensure a quality product.
- 115 ml water. The optimal temperature for the water is 25 degrees Celsius. The quantities of 250g of flour and 115 ml of water result in a fairly dry dough which makes it harder to knead. Of course, you can increase the amount of water to 125 ml or more, making kneading easier, however the result will be a weaker noodle dough.
- ½ teaspoon salt. Salt contributes to the development of the gluten tissue within the dough.
- ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. The alkaline nature of baking soda helps with the noodle formation.
- Peanut oil: use your discretion.
Now let’s make the noodles.
Firstly, combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
Stir well using chopsticks or a whisk.
Pour the water in slowly, while mixing quickly.
The mixture should turn into a fluffy dough.
Place the dough on a chopping board and knead it. This process requires some patience and physical strength; I believe making food is definitely one of the best physical and mental exercises.
The kneading process takes about 15 minutes (of course, it depends on how much effort you put in). When you feel the dough becoming soft with a smooth, even texture, it is ready. Wrap the dough in cling film and place on the chopping board to rest for 10 minutes.
Ten minutes later, unwrap the dough and then roll it into a long cylinder shape. When you feel significant resistance in the dough, then wrap it in cling film again, letting it rest for 10 more minutes.
After this, roll the dough out to about 20 cm in length (again in a cylinder shape) and then cut into two equal portions with a knife. Wrap the two pieces individually in plastic wrap and let them rest for 5 minutes.
Once rested, take the two pieces of dough and roll them each into 20 cm long pieces and divide each of those pieces into two, so that you now have four portions. Wrap the pieces individually in cling wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
Roll each portion to 20 centimeters in length. Leave each piece wrapped for 5 minutes.
Grease the chopping board with vegetable oil (I used peanut oil).
Using your hand, flatten each portion of dough and form into a long piece.
Put the rolling pin in the center of the flattened dough and roll the dough out to 22-25 cm long and 6cm wide.
Place a chopstick lengthways on the dough and press down to mark the middle.
Apply a layer of peanut oil to the dough surface, wrap in cling film and rest for 40 minutes.
While waiting for the dough to rest, prepare the ingredients for the noodle dish. Hot oil noodles are naturally inseparable from chilis, although their greatest charm is not the spicy taste, but the hot oil poured over them after the fragrance is emitted.
When preparing chilis, be aware that the flesh closest to the center is spicier, for example, the ribs and seeds. Chilis will emit a delightful aroma from the skin, so it is very popular in western food to prepare it by placing it directly on the charcoal and grilling it, allowing the skin to char and become more fragrant.
In this instance, we will firstly tear off the head of the dried chili (about 10g), pour out the seeds, and then slice it thinly. If you want a more spicy flavor, you can chop it or break it. However, if the pieces are too big the dish will become overpoweringly spicy.
You will need 2-3 green onions, sliced, and two bunches of bok choy, cleaned and cut in half lengthways. Blanch the bok choy quickly but be careful not to over cook it. Slice one clove of garlic very finely.
Of course, you cannot make this hot oil dish without vibrant, crisp pea sprouts/shoots (about a handful per person). If you can’t get pea sprouts, you can use bean shoots/sprouts instead.
Mix 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of vinegar for the sauce.
After 40 minutes have passed, the “moment of truth” is approaching. Opening the cling film with anticipation, we will find that the skin of the dough still seems to be the same. Will this do?
Full of suspicion, we hold the dough, gently pressing both ends with our thumbs and forefingers and pulling gently, it should not break. You will quickly feel the resistance, but do not force it, but gently swing the dough with both hands, letting it beat on the board. Tapping the dough on the board can help to eliminate the internal stress, making it more supple. If all goes well, this noodle can easily be pulled to over 1.5 meters.
Tear the noodles along the middle, making two for each portion. You can make one to three marks on the dough so that you can pull a noodle into three or four noodles. Of course, the dough should be rolled wider, to about 10cm.
Put the pulled noodles directly into a pot of boiling water, cook for three minutes, then take them out.
To serve, place the noodles in a bowl, arrange the pea sprouts and bok choy around the edge, the spring onion, garlic and chilis should be placed in the center, with the soy and vinegar sauce drizzled around the edges of the dish.
Heat the peanut oil until it is almost smoking and pour it on top of the chilis.
Come on, grab your chopsticks and enjoy this delicious meal!
Biang Biang Mian
Get some Shanxi Hot Oil Noodles smoking on your table, sit back and enjoy the delicious aromatic hot and cold Asian flavours.
- 250 g medium gluten flour
- 115 ml water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2-3 pieces spring onions sliced
- 2 bunches of bok choy cut in half lengthways and cleaned between the layers
- 1 clove garlic sliced thinly
- 1-2 handfuls pea shoots/sprouts
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 10 g Dried Chilis with the head torn off, de-seeded, and sliced thinly
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, stir and slowly add the water, mixing well until a light dough forms.
Turn out the dough onto a chopping board and knead for approximately 15 minutes. When the dough becomes soft and smooth, wrap it in cling film and let it rest for 10 minutes. Once rested, roll it out until you feel the dough resist, wrap it and let it rest for 10 minutes. After this, roll the dough to about a 20 cm long cylinder and cut into two equal portions. Wrap the pieces, let them rest for 5 minutes and then roll them each into 20 cm long pieces. Divide each of those pieces into two, making 4 portions. Wrap the pieces individually and rest for 5 minutes, then roll each portion to 20 cm in length. Let the pieces rest again for 5 minutes.
Grease the chopping board with vegetable oil. Flatten each portion of dough and from into a long piece, then roll it to obtain a piece 22-25 cm long and 6cm wide. Mark the dough in the middle with a chopstick, then apply a layer of peanut oil to the dough surface, wrap in cling film and rest for 40 minutes.
Combine the vinegar and soy and place to the side, along with the vegetables you have collected and prepared.
After 40 minutes, you will need to ensure the dough is ready. Pull it, making sure it won’t break. Swing the dough and let it beat on the board, this will make it more supple. Tear the noodles in half, thirds or quarters, depending on how many noodles you would like to make (if you make more than 2, roll the dough wider, to about 10cm).
Place the noodles into a pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Remove them from the pot.
Serve the noodles in a bowl with the bean sprouts and bok choy to the side and the spring onion, garlic and chilis in the centre. Pour over the soy and vinegar sauce. Heat 30g of peanut oil until it is almost smoking and pour it over the chilis.