After I made boba from scratch, I had a bizarre epiphany – if I were to cook flour with water into a gelatinous paste, and use that to make noodles, would they come out super chewy? When you are making boba, you do that process with water and tapioca flour to gelatinize the starch, resulting in chewy noodles. With normal flour, that method is called tangzhong, and it’s used to make milk bread springy and fluffy. So I figured, why not do that with these noodles? I will admit with my first batch, the dough, while very dense, was on the softer side – rolling the noodles presented a slight challenge since heating up about half of the flour caused the dough to be too weak in the gluten department. So I adjusted the recipe to only be 1/3 tangzhong and the rest as normal flour, just so that the gluten in the raw flour can bind the dough nicer. With Chinese noodles, I make it a point to shock the cooked noodles in ice, since that helps firm up the noodles and give them a stronger chewiness that I find to be absolutely necessary for this dish to work.
For the garnishes, we have garlic kale cooked in the style of Din Tai Fung’s garlic kale(finished with shaoxing cooking wine), a really yummy sesame-miso dressing, and chilies and nasturtiums for a pleasant pepperiness. The miso dressing is something I came up with on the fly when I was cooking with my sister, and she absolutely adored it to the point where she asked me for the recipe! The usage of chilies is there to break up the richness(yeah, I know Thai chilies and I don’t have the best relationship in the world, but I can guarantee you that they are not going to even remotely overwhelm this dish). The nasturtiums are the larger lily pad-looking leaves on top of the noodles, and they add a pepperiness that is pleasant and really melds well with everything. With this dish, you get fresh, creamy, spicy, garlicky, umami, and all with super chewy noodles. And the best part? The recipe is 100% vegan, and you honestly don’t miss the meat with it!
For the noodles:
1 cup all-purpose flour, in three parts
1/3 cup water
a pinch of salt
In a pot, heat up one part of flour with the water and salt, stirring constantly until it forms a thick paste. Mix the paste with the remaining flour to form your dough. Roll out to the 3rd-thinnest setting on a pasta roller and cut into relatively wide(1/8th inch) thick noodles. Boil in salted water for 45 seconds and place into ice to cool down right away.
For the dressing:
1/4 cup sesame paste
1 tbsp miso paste
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tspn agave
Mix together to form your dressing.
For the garlic kale:
5 leaves of kale, stem removed and cut into smaller pieces
1 clove of garlic, sliced thinly
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
In a pan, sweat out the kale, garlic, and with a little canola oil. Deglaze with the cooking wine and simmer until the kale is completely soft.
1oz Thai chilies, sliced thinly
Toss the dressing with the garlic kale and the chilies. Then toss in your noodles. Sprinkle nasturtium leaves on top to finish.