Thursday, June 12, 2008

How To Make Hand Pulled Noodles: The Recipe

UPDATE February 8, 2009 - I've put together a Hand Pulled Noodle webpage with all this info in one place.

I have successfully made hand pulled noodles (la mian, la mien). It's taken me about 35 batches of dough and a lot of experimenting. I talked about the ingredients in my last post, and now it's time to talk about a recipe.

I'll give a couple recipes (one with lye water and one without), and then provide some instructions on how to mix the ingredients together. Should you need more information about the ingredients, I've made a post talking about that.

Note that these recipes are by weight. You'll need a kitchen scale to make these (or you could try converting them to volume measurements). I recommend a digital scale since it's more precise. I've created these recipes by weight because it's the only way to get a perfect mix every time. If you follow these recipes, you shouldn't need much (if any) flour during the kneading process.

Each recipe is 300g total. This is enough to make noodles for two people who like noodles, or three to four people who just want to see you make hand pulled noodles.

Hand Pulled Noodle Recipe #19 - with Lye Water

152g cake flour
24g all-purpose flour
1g salt
25g sesame oil
95g water
3g lye water

Hand Pulled Noodle Recipe #21 - without Lye Water

152g cake flour
24g all-purpose flour
1g salt
28g sesame oil
95g water

Now for the mixing process. I've been successful with the following, but feel free to try your own way. I don't think it makes a huge difference, as long as the lye water (if you're using it) goes in last.

Step 1, measure your flour into the bowl:

Step 2, add salt:
Step 3, add oil:
Step 4, add water:
Finally, if necessary, add your lye water. Be careful here as you only need a little, and I found that my bottle sometimes got excited about pouring itself into my mixture :D.

For the mixing, you can just take a heavy spoon and start stirring. It should look like this as you work:
And finally, when when you've got it into a nice ball, you should be able to see that it is very uneven. You should knead it for a few minutes. There will be oily spots and dry spots. This smooths out very quickly. Be careful when kneading, though, since this dough is right at the edge of being too sticky. If you're quick enough, it won't stick to your hands. If you have to, though, adding a little bit of flour to keep it from sticking to you is just fine. Here's the progression from chunky to smooth, to give you and idea of how to knead it:

and now you've go hand pulled noodle dough. You can stick this in a ziploc baggie for later, or dive in and try to make noodles. I've found that keeping the dough in the fridge overnight makes it a little easier to get the dough to a point where you can pull noodles, but you can still pull noodles from fresh dough. The difference in knead times is about 15 minutes for overnight dough versus about 25 minutes for fresh dough.

My next post will talk about some pulling techniques. I've yet to perfect my ability to pull noodles, but I can pretty much get noodles every time I try now. The good news with this dough is that you can try repeatedly, and you can actually re-wet the dough if you feel like it's drying out a bit. Once you get it to a point where it can be pulled, it's very forgiving. I'll save the details for my next post.


  1. For starters, let me say that I've been trying to do this for a loooong time. Information on the internet is hard to come by. Your entire area dedicated to La Mian makes me want to cry. But instead, I will once again break out the mixer and try again.

    I had watched Glutton For Punishment on TV and he had scoped out a restaurant making noodles, and his ingredients were just the 2 types of flour, and baking soda and water.

    I ,unfortunately, am and will be broke for quite some time, and the kitchen I work in doesn't have a digital scale. Is there any way you could measure these out and convert them to cups.

    I know how inaccurate it is, and I WILL be getting a digital scale soon just for this reason. I'm feeling the urge to make noodles though, and I've already ordered monster bags of flour through Sysco :D.

    Anyways, again, GREAT job on the noodles. I vow too master them or be slapped with 1000 wet sock monkeys.

  2. Hi Mike,

    Switching over to volume measurements will work, it just won't be as precise. If you convert these measurements, be sure to err on the side of too much liquid if you have to round at all. It's easier to add more flour when you're kneading than it is to add more water.

    Also, for the record, I bought my digital scale at target for 50 bucks. It's here.

  3. When you talk about the knead times, does that mean you need to knead the dough for 25 minutes if you're going to use it as fresh dough? I tried this last night, but it didn't seem to work out too well. :P Perhaps I'll try it again, but don't knead it as long.

    Thank you for the post tho. :)

  4. @Veronica:

    Fresh dough just means that it hasn't been in the fridge for a rest yet. So if you've just made the dough, you'll end up having to knead it longer. Dough that's rested in the fridge overnight is a little easier to get going.

    Also, I've heard (but have yet to confirm) that if you give the dough a good strong knead for a while (5 to 10 minutes), and then let it sit for 15 minutes, it will help it relax as well.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I love to cook, and this will be fun to try.

  6. Hi again. Just thought to mention here that I've converted this recipe to regular ol' cups and tablespoons, if anyone wants it.

  7. you are great!!! la mian is originally from lanzhou China.

  8. First of all, this info is invaluable. Many thanks for your efforts. My question is:

    Can you use a dough hook in a stand mixer (Kitchen Aid) to knead and how long would it take for both pulling refrigerated and fresh dough?

    Thanks in advance

  9. Just watched your videos on YouTube. So great! Thank you so much for sharing! I'm going to try it :)

  10. Thanks for posting all of this Luke. I tried making La Mian this afternoon and it took about an hour of kneading! I following your latest recipe and it did not specify 28g of oil, as in your previous recipe. I only put a little on my hands. Should I have put the 28g of sesame oil in the dough? My dough seemed kind of dry and I had to constantly put splashes of water on it.

    Larry from Virginia

  11. @Junghwa:

    I just gave a noodle pulling demo at a culinary school and they used a dough mixer to prepare the dough. The result was spectacular! They had a fancy professional mixer, but a Kitchen Aid will work as well. They used the paddle attachment instead of a dough hook (it will beat the dough harder) and ran it for 8 minutes. You can make a large batch of dough this way, too (I think we had a 5x batch).

    If you're using a mixer, I would skip the refrigeration part, since it'll take 10 minutes to warm the dough up when you could just beat fresh dough in the mixer instead.

    That's correct, there isn't any oil in my most recent recipe. I was playing with it recently and I found it to be a little dry too. You can rewet your noodle dough easily, but for a dough that lasts a little longer, use this recipe (I'll put this in the post soon as well):

    158g cake flour
    26g regular flour
    110g water
    6g vegetable or sesame oil
    2g salt
    1g baking soda

    It adds to 303g, but it's a lot easier to loosen up (and keep wet).

  12. @Jungwha:

    I've just posted some notes about stand mixers here (

  13. coool!! i was search over on how to make noodle at home @ noodle recipes & crossed 2 ur blog. Danke , Merci & Gracias!!


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