Food & Dining - The art of making noodles

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Food & Dining -
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The art of making noodles
30 Jun 2011, 3:35 pm

By Kevin PangTribune reporter

9:35 a.m. CDT, June 30, 2011

Liu Chang Ming is a Thor of a man, with biceps like he was smuggling mangos. He got that way by mastering the art of noodle-making, a skill he first learned in his native China 30 years ago. Now Liu, 49, has been hired as head noodle chef at Chinatown Square's Hing Kee. His noodle-making station sits windowside, where passers-by stand wide-eyed and mesmerized as Liu spins, stretches and hand-pulls a half-dozen varieties of noodles to order. So how does he do it?


After kneading the flour-and-water dough, Liu shapes it into a thick rope and pounds it against the stainless-steel table. He moistens the dough by adding oil and water from a squirt bottle.


Liu heaves the rope up and down, stretching it, twisting it into braids. He repeats the process several times. This stretches gluten to enhance the noodles' chew.


He breaks the dough rope into several skinnier dowels and dusts them with flour so the noodles won't later stick together.


Liu folds a dowel over and tugs at it with both hands. He folds the two strands in half and tugs again, creating what is seemingly four strands, but is actually one continuous noodle.


The noodles have a sturdy elasticity, not breaking even as Liu continues stretching and twisting them into thinner strands, occasionally shaking the noodles through a dust of flour.


Liu tosses the continuous loops of noodles into a vat of boiling water. They float to the surface in about 10 seconds, at which point Liu transfers the noodles into cool water to stop the cooking.


Of the toppings available (beef brisket, spicy lamb, shrimp wonton, seafood), our favorite might be the shredded barbecued duck with bok choy, hard-boiled egg and scallions ($6.99).

Hing Kee, 2140 S. Archer Ave. inside Chinatown Square, 312-808-9538

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