Lunar New Year is coming up fast, and though many cultures have and still do celebrate a lunar new year of some kind, in the U.S. it has largely become associated with Chinese culture and typically is referred to as Chinese New Year.
For me, this means I get an excuse to conscript my loved ones into helping me prepare way too many dishes from one of my favorite cuisines in the world. And while there are many traditional Chinese dishes served on lunar new year, none are as iconic as noodles.
Noodles, particularly a lengthy variety called longevity noodles, are typical at Lunar New Year celebrations. The long unbroken noodle is meant to symbolize a long life. This also explains why cutting or breaking the noodle is considered bad luck.
Though longevity noodles are most typical, really any long noodle is fair game in a Lunar New Year setting so I want to show you what I think is the most fun hand formed noodle to make and that’s Biang Biang Mien (which can also get quite long depending on your wingspan).
Biang Biang Mian translates basically to “bang bang noodles” and has a wonderfully complex Chinese character representing its name that is probably one of the more involved characters you’ll still see commonly used in China today. The name comes from the sound the noodles make (bang! bang!) when you smack them against the the table as you stretch them right before boiling, and let me tell you: it's very fun.
Making these noodles is pretty simple, but does require some attention to detail. Let’s get into it.
Biang Biang Mian
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 3 minutes
Inactive time: 40 minutes
Ingredients: (measuring this recipe by weight really is the easiest way to ensure the proper ratios in the dough which, for this, is important to achieving the final result. If you’ve never cooked by weight before, this is a great beginner friendly way to try it out.)
400 grams bread flour
200 grams water
2 grams water
Start by measuring all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Mix on lowest speed until it comes together into a dough with no dry spots left, about 6-10 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.
After the rest the dough will still be very stiff, but will feel smooth, and will have relaxed so that if you poke it it won’t rebound.
Knead again on the lowest speed for 10 minutes more. After this kneading, the dough may not be one single mass, but should be very smooth and very elastic. If you pop it, it should rebound quickly.
Form into a ball, and wrap in plastic. Then let it rest for another 10 minutes.
After the rest, roll the ball into a log, then slice in half. Cover the halves in plastic wrap and rest again for 10 minutes.
After the rest, slice the halves in half again lengthwise, then turn them cut side up.
Then flatten each quarter into a rectangle about 2”x 6” with the lengthwise middle and edges slightly more depressed than the rest.
Spray each flattened quarter lightly with cooking spray and wrap in plastic.
Let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to three days (in the fridge) before cooking. These noodles are best cooked right before serving so if you want to make these noodles ahead, this is how far you want to take it before storing.
Now the fun part! Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then unwrap one noodle portion and holding it from the very ends gently pull until it stretches to about 18’ in length. Then repeatedly lift it up and smack it against the table top while gently widening your arms to stretch the noodle. The combination of smacking and stretching will allow the noodles to reach a length much greater than just your arm span.
Once the noodle is fully stretched, starting from the top, tear the noodle in half lengthwise until you reach the bottom, but leaving the bottom intact so you have one very long noodle twice the length of the stretched portion.
Then gently lower the noodle (it should be about 8-12 feet long at this point) into the boiling water and cook for about three minutes.
Then the noodles are ready to be dressed or tossed with whatever wonderful ingredients you like.
If you’re interested in more recipes to bust out on Lunar New Year, why not check out our upcoming virtual Asian Dumplings class on Sunday, January 22 at 11am CST. Together, we'll make:
- Pork Pot Stickers
- Crab Rangoon
- Shrimp Wonton Dumplings in Soup
Hope to see you there!