La Mian / Ramen noodles

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For a few weeks I was obsessed with the idea of making hand-pulled noodles, but finding a good recipe turned out to be extremely difficult.

The main point of contention was whether to use high protein flour or low protein flour, and unfortunately there were ‘experts’ on both sides pushing their point of view.  Some people recommended low protein flour and others high protein…but worse still, some were arguing that “you want the dough to have less gluten so it’s easier to stretch” and others saying “you want to have as much gluten as possible so that it will stretch without breaking”.

I gave it a few goes and failed miserably….well by my standard it was miserable as I had to cut the noodles rather than stretching them by hand, but they tasted fine.

Tonight I wanted to make my wife noodles for dinner as we’d bought some King Prawn tails as our budget (and local) alternative to lobster.

I had a quick look for simple wheat noodles (we ran out of egg), and thought I’d try using lye water for the first time.

I googled wheat noodles with lye water and was immediately trapped back in the no-man’s-land of pseudo-noodle-experts with some arguing that lye water (an alkaline agent) is used because it helps to stop gluten from forming in the dough!

Usually I’d try to find an actual expert opinion, or just a moderately informed one to cut through the misinformation, but I guess last time I was distracted by the thought of amazing hand-pulled noodles. This time I didn’t care. I just wanted good tasting noodles, and I was more than happy to cut them.

Sensing the deep sincerity of my prayer, the google heavens opened and bestowed upon me an article the sensible prose of which filled me with immeasurable relief.

Yes! it cried, You want your damn noodles to be high in gluten!

On the strength of this information I quickly found a Ramen recipe with lye water and the option of high protein flour:

I hearby attest: the recipe works. The noodles were excellent. The anguish of this long and drawn out adventure has reached its glorious end!