Monday, November 7, 2011

Shanghai-style rolled noodles

Shanghai pulled noodlesShanghai pulled noodlesShanghai pulled noodles

You stupid. You never dust your hands with flour. How you gonna roll them out now?

Me trying to be a smartass, and my mother putting me in my place. Of course you don't dust your hands with flour when you get to rolling out these noodles. They need a bit of moisture to grip the chopping board - otherwise you're just tugging and dragging. Rolling noodles is different than pulling noodles, like they do in Northern China.

This style of noodle dish is native to Shanghai - very simple, very humble. But as with all these things, the key is the work you have to put into it. My mother tells me how great my grandmother used to make this dish. She was able to roll the noodles perfectly, all to the identical length, girth, and texture. So, after my rough start, we settled into a nice rhythm, rolling out about 2 pounds of flour. It's a simple enough motion, but the key was to maintain a consistency in every noodle. You have to roll and pull out at the same time . . . I struggled. Not badly, but just enough to be humbled.

The broth is with finely chopped preserved cabbage, also a Shanghainese thing. Dried shrimp to give some punch and savoury flavour, and like all fresh noodles, everything is cooked in 3 minutes. So simple, such a humble dish, yet so fulfilling. I remember eating these as a child. There's a certain warmth I feel eating this again, especially now that I made it myself. It's a great shame that we live so far from my grandmother . . . but learning these dishes reinforces to me how important it is that I not only learn, but document as well. A family souvenir, definitely, but also a truly authentic Shanghainese dish.

DF

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