How to make egg noodles?
February 22, 2008 4:35 PM   Subscribe

How do I make decent egg noodles?

I've been trying to make Chinese egg noodles but they come out weird. Ideally they should be the skinny, long, round noodles. Instead, the dough clumps together, smushes when I try to roll it up, breaks when I try to unroll it, and I basically just lose at life. :P
What is the secret to making these? Is there a step-by-step recipe or method that you've used that is tried and true? Thanks in advance!
posted by macsigler to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have only made egg pasta in the "Italian" sense, but I am guessing the preparation is not significantly different. Basically egg pasta is eggs + wheat flour -- where the weird variations come in are with Soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) and thin rice noodles you would use in Thai preparations. The recipe/prep I use is from Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook and I have made it several times now:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
A few drops of water, if needed.

Here is a link to homemade Chinese noodles I find on Google, which seems sort of similar.

I replace half the flour with semolina (durum wheat) flour for a grainier, heartier texture. You can also try whole what flour although I cannot tell you how that goes.

I mix the dough in a food processor, although you can do it by hand: At Smitten Kitchen recently. In the food processor, you combine the flour and salt and give it a brief pulse, and then add the eggs and process for 30 seconds. After mixing, I pat it out with a little flour and wrap it up into dinner-sized portions and stick in the fridge for 10 minutes up to two days. I have a pasta roller attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, although making these by hand is not impossible. Mark Bittman says to roll out the dough to as thin as possible, flour it lightly and roll up and cut into thin strips. Jamie Oliver seems to like to call this tagliatelle You will not be able to get the classic round Chinese noodle shape without an extruder or spaghetti type cutter. You are not going to be able to roll out very thin tubes of dough because you will crack and break the dough, just like you are experiencing. Cook for 4-6 minutes in salted boiling water, you will want it on the al dente side if you are going to stir fry it with other stuff. (You will want it on the al dente side anyways, fresh pasta does not seem to tolerate over cooking as much) No matter your final preparation, fresh pasta is worth it.
posted by sararah at 5:13 PM on February 22, 2008

So what kind of extruder or cutters should I use, and how do others make it by hand?
posted by macsigler at 6:04 PM on February 22, 2008

I'm considering maybe purchasing this:
What do you all think?
posted by macsigler at 6:35 PM on February 22, 2008

I have that style of pasta machine, though maybe not that brand. I used to make Italian-style pasta regularly, and the machine was fine for that.

I'd mix the pasta directly on my butcher block table top--mound up some flour, make a well for the egg, carefully add water while kneading.

I'd break off a small chunk, roll it into a thin sheet with 2-3 passes through the roller, then send the sheet through the other attachment that sticks up from the roller to slice it into noodles.

If I wanted dry noodles, I'd either drape the noodles on dowels to dry straight or make loose nests on the table.

I liked that the whole process was non-electric, quiet, pleasant, and surprisingly easy to clean up.

The main trick is to learn through experience how moist the dough needs to be. Too dry and it won't roll out into easily managed sheets; too moist and it won't slice cleanly into noodles.
posted by PatoPata at 7:21 PM on February 22, 2008

Round noodles can be made by hand by stretching the dough. The only recipes I can find for this are for eggless noodles, however. If you are interested, search for "lamian" or "stretched" or "pulled" noodle. there are some impressive videos. I get the feeling that this is much harder to do than they make it look.
posted by gembackwards at 7:43 PM on February 22, 2008

Here's another AskMe thread addressing pasta without a pasta machine, and one on Chowhound. I think the pasta machine you have linked to would be a pretty good buy, you can use it for both Italian and Asian preparations. I think you can probably make round noodles by hand if you are a 95 year old Chinese person who has been doing it all their lives. So, in the interest of saving yourself 70 years, a pasta machine is a much faster bet. :)

When I make pasta I usually make 1.5 x batch so we can have pasta once that night and then a few nights later. We usually have red sauce one night/white sauce a few nights later. I haven't tried any Asian preparations yet, but maybe this will inspire me!
posted by sararah at 9:13 PM on February 22, 2008

Oh I have this KitchenAid mixer attachment which includes a roller, a fettucine cutter, and a spaghetti cutter. Basically just like the hand crank one you linked to except the motor in my mixer drives it. Not quite as wide as the countertop version which is really the only downside, in my opinion. It has worked really well so far.

Basically with the pasta machine I break off small chunks of pasta dough and squish them flattish and run it through on the thickest setting a few times. Then, you progressively get thinner and thinner sheets as you dial up the roller settings. Typically 5-6 is what you'd use for fettucine or spaghetti. Once it is rolled to your desired thickness, you run the sheets through the cutter and lay out the noodles on a well floured countertop or piece of parchment. Keep things floured to keep your noodles from sticking! Then boil 4-6 mins, strain, stir fry if you're going that route, and eat!
posted by sararah at 9:20 PM on February 22, 2008

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the following solutions:

==Pasta needs to be worked enough to develop enough long-chain gluten to hold the end-result of noodles together. The problem is (almost always) in not working the dough enough.

==AND! You must rest the dough to allow the gluten to relax, or it won't roll out correctly. This means setting your work-sized balls of dough aside for 15 minutes on the counter (covered).

==Once you start rolling out the dough (through your pasta maker), consider dusting the dough with more flour than you think is appropriate (at least at the start) to keep it from binding up or getting worked more than necessary. If your dough is springing back after a pass through the rollers, you might want to let it rest AGAIN for another 15 minutes (work one of the other lumps) until the gluten relaxes again.

==After cutting dough into noodles, don't be afraid to dust with flour more heavily than you might think appropriate. It makes handling the noodles a lot easier, and washes off when cooking.
posted by lothar at 10:01 AM on February 23, 2008

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