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Like all of the world’s great cuisines, the food of Western China is a triumph of balance. Spice, acidity, sweetness, saltiness and umami all mingle in unison, making every mouthful a thrill.
Even these simple hand-pulled noodles, a fixture of Xi’an cuisine, become a vehicle for that balance of flavours, with black vinegar bringing depth and acidity, quality soy sauce adding seasoning and rich umami, a little sugar for sweetness and Hetty McKinnon’s Szechuan pepper-rich ‘Everything’ chilli oil for the aromatic, numbing heat.
This is a simplified version of the Xian Famous Foods recipe, a New York icon beloved by locals and culinary tourists alike. The wheat noodles are satisfyingly al dente, brought to life by the zingy, acidic sauce and a drizzle of punchy chilli oil.
You’ll need to start the chilli oil the day before you hope to eat it, but once a jar is made you’ll have it on hand to add kick to all manner of recipes for at least a year. Find the recipe here, and fill your cart with all the ingredients you need to make it with one click with our Everything Oil Collection.
To make the noodles, combine the flour, water and salt in a bowl and bring them together with your hands until they form a ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a bench top and knead for five minutes, or until it forms a very smooth, very elastic ball of dough (add a little more flour if too sticky). Return the ball of dough to a bowl, cover, and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, knead the dough well again (3-5 minutes), then rest – covered – for another 15 minutes.
Cut the dough in half, cover the surface with a little vegetable oil, and roll each half into a long snake approximately 1.5cm thick. Wind the long snake of dough into a flat coil, lay carefully in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the dough, using another bowl.
Remove the dough from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking. Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
Unwind one coil of dough and begin stretching it slowly, looping it through your fingers (like a piece of string) as it gets longer. Gently stretch your arms apart, pulling the dough as thin as it will go without breaking (around 5mm). Drop approx. 2.5m length of noodle into the boiling water, and gently toss it around with a pair of tongs to prevent sticking.
Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until al dente, then use the tongs to transfer the noodles to a colander over a bowl. Repeat the process with the second length of noodle.
To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Leave to steep for another 10 minutes off the heat, then strain and discard solids.
To serve, toss the noodles through the sauce, drizzle with a little chilli oil and sprinkle with spring onion and black sesame seeds.
5m prep | 5m cook
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