Chinese people are pretty superstitious. In Chinese buildings, the fourth floor may be missing because the number four is bad luck. “Si” (four) sounds like “si” which means death. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the number eight is good luck and people will go to great lengths to incorporate “eight” in their life. There were people booking weddings for the year 2008 for their children who were not even in relationships yet. We eat dumplings during the new year because they’re shaped like gold ingots, the old form of money, to bring ourselves prosperity in the coming year. The list of superstitions goes on.
One of the common superstitions throughout my life has been birthday noodles, called “so mien”. My mom held fast to this one. If at a restaurant for someone’s birthday, we always order noodles. If celebrating at home, we always make noodles. Friends and family eating noodles with you means that they were all wishing you a long-life, represented by long strands of noodles. At a banquet-style dinner, there could be eight to ten courses (not counting dessert) and noodles and fried rice usually come at the tail end. Sometimes people get full and stop eating by then, but no, not when it’s someone’s birthday. My mom would not let you get away with skipping out on noodles, “Don’t you want your sister to live a long life?” Guilt, pestering, punishment, anything to get you to eat the “so mien”.
When I was younger my mom seemed kind of crazy, but over time I started to really love the tradition. Especially as we began to make noodles at home for birthdays more often than going out. We used to do the hand-pulled noodles a lot and that might be a comedic post (especially with video) for the future because it’s really a skill that takes a lifetime to master. The easier noodles to make and also unbelievably delicious are the hand-cut noodles, which I learned from our daughter’s nanny. She always kneads the dough by hand, but I say, “why do that when you have a KitchenAid® Stand Mixer with a dough hook?” The result is a bouncier, fantastic noodle.
The goal while making this dough is to incorporate as little water as possible. The KitchenAid® Stand Mixer allows you to add less water than if you were mixing by hand. The mixer also gives the protein in your dough a nice workout that isn’t impossible on your own, however you would be tired. This method will be easier than you expect and it’s also very versatile! You can use these noodles for Za Jiang Mien, Da Lou Mien, Dan Dan Mien, or for your favorite noodle soups. You’ll be making it often.
Hand-Cut Chinese Noodles
Makes 3 servings
2 cups bread flour + flour for dusting
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water, divided
Place 2 cups bread flour and salt in the mixing bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer. Use the paddle attachment on low to combine. Add ½ cup of water gradually. Allow to mix for one minute. Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time only until the dough forms a ball. You may only need 1 teaspoon of water and do not exceed 2 tablespoons. Use as little water as possible!
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes on medium speed. (The ball may break into two or three balls. Push it back together and continue kneading.) Shape the dough into a neat ball and leave in the mixing bowl. Cover and rest at room temperature for 3 hours. *After dough has been left for 3 hours, you can use it, refrigerate it for a few hours before rolling, or freeze it for several weeks.
Roll out the dough on a very well floured (all-purpose flour is ok here too) surface to ⅛ inch thickness. Make sure the dough is coated in flour top and bottom and fold it a few times. Slice ¼” thick. Sprinkle more flour over it and pull the noodles apart with your fingers.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil until desired tenderness, about two minutes. Drain and use immediately with your choice of soup or sauce.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*