5 Homemade Noodle Making Tips from Jason Wang of Xi’an Famous Foods

Keep these in mind for a successful, and so worth it, batch of biang-biang noodles.

January 13, 2023

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Udon, vermicelli, lo mein — Asian cuisines have no shortage of delicious noodles.

But perhaps none is tastier — or easier for the home chef to make from scratch — than biang-biang noodles, a type of wide, hand-ripped noodle originating from Shaanxi province in the northwestern region of China named for the sound they make when hitting the counter as they’re pulled.

Making these noodles is more of an art than a science.

“I think a lot of people hear about pulled noodles, and they think super fancy, super hard, super foreign, super exotic,” says Jason Wang, CEO and owner of Xi’an Famous Foods, a specialty Chinese food chain known for its irresistibly chewy biang-biang. “But they’re so simple to make. The content is just flour and water — you can’t get more ‘no-recipe recipe’ than that.”

How to Make Biang-Biang Noodles From Scratch

Xi’an Famous Foods CEO Jason Wang shows us how to make his restaurant’s signature hand-pulled noodles.

Here, Wang shares his top tips for making biang-biang noodles. Follow along with the recipe (pictured above) and find more of Wang’s favorite dishes in his book Xi'an Famous Foods: The Cuisine of Western China, from New York's Favorite Noodle Shop.

Don’t Overthink It

“Making noodles isn’t about exact measurements,” says Wang. “It’s not baking. It takes experimentation to get a feel for what’s right.” So how do you know when you’ve got it right? “The dough should be smooth and consistent — not mushy or sticky. That's when you know there’s too much liquid. The dough should not stick to your fingers. You should aim for clean palms — that’s what my father would always say.”

Go Slow

Whether you’re making your dough by hand or using a little mixer at home, be careful not to dump a whole cup of water in all at once. “You want to add a small trickle,” says Wang. “It takes a few seconds for the water to actually get mixed into the dough. If you add too much water, it’s not going to mix evenly.” If you do happen to overdo it, don’t panic; you can always fix your mistake by adding in a pinch of dough. “Again, you don't want to add too much dough to compensate — a little goes a long way.”

Give It a Rest

“Be patient,” says Wang. “How much time you let the dough rest could have a huge impact on its texture. Every time you knead the dough, it’s going to get tougher. When dough is tough, you can't pull it — there’s too much resistance. Resting it relaxes the gluten so it won’t be super dense.” Wang recommends resting the dough for 20 to 30 minutes at a time covered or in the fridge, kneading, and repeating the process until smooth.

Stay Cool

There’s a reason you should only use cold water when making dough. Add hot water, and you run a risk of encouraging rising. “If your dough or your bowl is unclean or has a little bit of yeast or baking powder left over, warm water can create bubbles in the dough and it'll just break every time you try to pull it,” says Wang. “Cold water is always the standard.”

Oil Up

While Wang’s biang-biang noodle recipe doesn’t call for oil as an ingredient, it’s still an integral part of the cooking process. “Once the dough is cut into flat rectangles, rub them with vegetable oil and place them on a plate. The oil acts as a lubricant to make sure the pieces don’t stick together.” You then cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least one hour or up to three days.

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