Hetty McKinnon’s Easy Hand-Pulled Noodles Are the Perfect Sunday Cooking Project

updated Mar 23, 2021
Easy Homemade Noodles with Ginger Scallion Oil

These hand-pulled noodles are a fun and easy weekend project that results in one seriously satisfying dinner.

Serves4

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noodles sit on a table next to a bowl of oranges and a glass of wine
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

On Sundays, my only ritual is patience. Freed from the relentless pressures of weeknight cooking — when fast and furious dictate my menu — on Sundays I opt for things that will take time, or that can be cooked in stages. I look for recipes that are languid, that require my attention but only just enough, so I can still watch a movie on my laptop or listen to my favorite podcast while I’m cooking. This is a respite from the way I normally cook, which is either fast (for family meals) or meticulous (recipe testing). On Sundays, I turn to things I already know — it could be the meditation of folding dumplings or wontons, the comfort of rolling pici pasta alongside my daughter, or pulling noodles by hand.

On the Sundays that I make handmade noodles, I will mix the dough around mid-morning. It does not need to rest for very long, but I like to give my dough time to relax, like we all want to do on Sundays. The longer it sits, the more relaxed it gets, and the easier the dough will be to stretch.

While the dough rests, I will potter around the house. I’ll water the plants and take some time to mist their leaves. I’ll read a few pages of the book that I rarely find time to pick up. And then I’ll wander back to the kitchen and consider how I’ll serve my noodles. Often, I’ll prepare a quick tomato and egg stew, which is the perfect accompaniment to these toothsome and chewy noodles. They’re also lovely teamed with an untraditional miso-laced cacio e pepe sauce or a quick stir-fry with veggies and curry powder (Singapore noodles style). Other times, I will prepare my favorite “sauce” from childhood, a ginger-scallion oil, which requires no cooking other than heating the oil.

Once the sauce is decided, it’s back to the dough. By now, it would have been sitting for a few hours and it will feel soft and very pliable. I’ll prepare two or three sheet pans by coating them with flour — this is for dusting the noodles after I’ve pulled them. And then the noodle dance begins: I divide the dough into four pieces, roll each into a rectangle-ish shape, and then I’ll use a sharp knife to cut the dough into thick strips. Next, I’ll pick up one strand and gently pull, running my thumb and index finger along the noodle to lovingly elongate the dough. The motion is more a stretch than pull. The completed strands of noodles are transferred to the floured sheet pan, and then covered with a kitchen towel, as I take care of the remaining dough.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Now I’m in the home stretch. Bringing a huge pot of water to boil, I’ll salt it a little (less than pasta water, but a little salt is always welcome for building flavor) and then dunk the noodles in. After two or three minutes, they’ll float to the surface, letting me know they’re ready. I add the sauce or seasoning, and then I’m all set. It will be Sunday evening by then, and I’ll sit down to dinner with my family, with a bowl of comforting noodles as my ultimate reward for a day of patience. 

To Asia, With Love cover

For more great recipes like this one, buy Hetty’s newest book, To Asia, With Love.

Easy Homemade Noodles with Ginger Scallion Oil

These hand-pulled noodles are a fun and easy weekend project that results in one seriously satisfying dinner.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the dough: (If possible, use scales to make sure the measurements of flour and water are accurate.)

  • 3 2/3 cup

    (450 grams) bread flour or all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 2 teaspoons

    sea salt

For the ginger scallion oil:

  • 5 ounces

    ginger, peeled and finely chopped (a roughly 7-inch piece)

  • 6

    scallions, finely sliced, white and green parts separated

  • 1 tablespoon

    tamari or gluten-free soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    salt

  • 1 1/4 cups

    vegetable or other neutral oil

Instructions

Make the dough:

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pair of chopsticks, gradually stir in 1 cup (225 ml) of room-temperature water, a little at a time. It will look dry and rough—this is normal. Using your hands, bring the dough together, incorporating any dry bits of flour. When the dough comes together into a large ball, turn it out onto a smooth work surface (preferably not wood) and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and malleable. Cover in plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 45 minutes. You can also leave it to rest overnight in the fridge—just make sure you bring it back to room temperature before the next step.

Make the ginger scallion oil:

  1. Place the ginger, white part of the scallion, tamari or soy sauce and sea salt in a heatproof bowl.

  2. Place the oil in a small saucepan over medium–high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. It is hot enough if it sizzles when you place a wooden chopstick into it. Very carefully pour the oil over the ginger and scallion mixture. Allow to cool, then add the green part of the scallion and stir to combine.

Roll out the dough:

  1. After the first resting period, knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, then rest it again for 15 to 20 minutes—this relaxes the gluten and makes the dough easier to roll out. By now, the surface will look very smooth. Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and divide the dough into four equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time (keep the others covered with a damp tea towel), roll it out into a roughly 9 x 12-inch rectangle (dust the rolling pin or surface with more flour if the dough sticks). If at any time the dough bounces back too much when you are rolling, simply leave it to relax for a few minutes. The more time you let it rest, the easier it will be to work with.

Cut and pull the dough:

  1. Lightly dust the dough with flour and, using a sharp knife, cut it into 1/2 to 1-inch-wide strips. Lift up each strip and gently pull, running your thumb and index finger along the noodle to elongate the strand. You don’t have to pull too hard, just enough to slightly stretch the dough. Dust the strands with more flour to stop them sticking. Transfer the noodles to a floured sheet pan, cover with a tea towel, and repeat with the remaining dough.

Cook the noodles:

  1. Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to the boil. Add the noodles in batches of two or three handfuls (depending on the size of your pan) and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the noodles float to the surface. Remove them from the water with tongs. Toss the noodles with the desired amount of ginger scallion oil. If not serving with the oil, fresh noodles stick together easily, so dress them immediately with a few drops of sesame or vegetable oil.

Recipe Notes

Make-ahead: If you plan on eating them later, submerge the cooked noodles in an ice bath; when ready to serve, reheat them in boiling water for about 1 minute. You can also freeze these uncooked noodles. Dust them with rice flour to separate the strands and place them on a parchment paper–lined sheet, then place the tray in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the noodles to a freezer container or bag. To cook, plunge the frozen noodles straight into boiling water (do not thaw first) and cook until they float to the top.

Storage: Store the ginger scallion oil in an airtight container in the fridge for several weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Reprinted with permission from To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon, copyright © 2021. Published by Prestel Publishing.