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!





Islam and violence: how stupid are we really?

My latest piece on MercatorNet is inspired by our collective ignorance of a religion that has, one might think, been of some significance to Western societies for the past decade or so. Our endless debates about Islam and terrorism are a little like debating the bellicosity of ‘Orientals’ at the turn of the 19th Century:

If only we took the time and the effort to get past our basic ignorance, we would find that the term ‘Islam’ does not refer to a single homogenous thing. ‘Islam’ refers to more than one thing, and our consternation and confusion arises from continuing to debate the matter without settling on a true definition.

The Pope on evolution

Others before me have said: “when the media reports on the Catholic Church, deduct 50 IQ points.”

Unfortunately it’s a lot easier to interpret reality through the prism of hearsay and poorly bounded cliches than to go to the effort of finding evidence and applying reason. So when the media starts reporting that the Pope has finally embraced modern science and evolution, those of us with enough intellectual integrity to know that this is a non-story can only take refuge in hilarious, wonderful satire such as the following:

VATICAN––In a stunning break with centuries of Catholic teaching, Pope Francis announced today that the forces of Gravity and Electromagnetism are real, adding that “God is not a magician with a magic wand.” This is in stark contrast with the teaching of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, whose third Encyclical is entitled “God the Magician: Why Gravity Doesn’t Exist.”