Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pulled Noodles

A quick update on a favorite Shanghai food: pulled noodles!

Pulled noodle stands are located all around Shanghai, offering a bowl of noodles (among other less popular dishes) for half a dollar. I'm not the biggest fan of noodles, and generally I think noodles in Shanghai leave a little to be desired. Pulled noodles are the exception. Even if they're nothing amazing, they're dependably delicious. There's a rule, one that I've confirmed with a number of people: the more dirty or hole-in-the-wall the restaurant, the better it is. Another good sign is if taxis are parked outside, with cab drivers rushing in for a quick bite.

It's interesting how the noodles are made: a rectangle of dough is stretched to a full length, then folded over, and re-stretched, with flour added to keep these folds from re-joining. Eventually it forms one really long noodle strand. By the end it gets wild, with the noodles being swung around and even slapped against a board! I'm still trying to get a good video of that, but maybe it's a high-impact version of those pizza chefs who throw pizza dough around. Finally, the long noodle is boiled in a broth, with shavings of the beef added.

Additionally, here is a video uploaded by reader Ka, many thanks:

Most of the noodle stands are operated by Muslims, often they seem to be families, and are wearing recognizably Muslim clothing. For obvious reasons, these restaurants won't serve pork, China's most common meat - it's mostly lamb and beef. The signs will often have a picture of a Mosque on them, and references to Lanzhou, a city that served as the Eastern end of the Silk Road, and I suppose is the mythical source of pulled noodles with beef.

1 comment:

Ka said...

Hi Jeff!

First of all, kudos for your blog! I visited Shanghai previous summer and instantly fell in love with the city. Reading your blog really gives me the feeling I'm back again.

A friend took me to a cheap noodles joint, where I had some of the best noodles in my entire life. I made a video of the crazy noodle swinging, if you're interested, send a mail to donutka@gmail.com. The video is 66 mb in size, I can put it on a server for you to download.