Homemade Knife-Cut Noodles with Simple Pork Chao Mian

By • February 19, 2015 4 Comments

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Author Notes: Knife-cut noodles (Dao Xiao Mian) are legendary in China, a specialty of the Shanxi province. They are known interchangeably as knife-shaved, knife-cut, pared noodles, or even peeled noodles. The method of making them is an art form that takes years of practice, but I've discovered an easier way to make them at home.Betty

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Serves 4

For the knife-cut noodles:

  • 4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water, divided
  1. In a large bowl, add the bread flour and make a well in the center. Add 1 cup water in roughly 1/8 cup increments, mixing it in with chopsticks, until all the water has been added. It will look rough.
  2. Once all of the water has been added, use your hands to mix it in, kneading it to form a rough dough inside the bowl. The dough should be dry, but if it's falling apart, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until there are no residual clumps of dough in the bowl or on your hands. Once it resembles a rough dough, turn it onto a dry surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes. Its surface should start to become smooth.
  3. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes, to allow the flour to hydrate.
  4. Remove dough from plastic wrap and knead it on dry surface for another 5 to 6 minutes. Wrap it in plastic and allow it to rest for another 15 minutes. After each rest, the dough should become visibly smoother and easier to work with.
  5. Remove dough from plastic wrap and knead for another 5 to 6 minutes. Form a long oval shape and fold it into thirds, with the two ends overlapping, so that there are three layers. Knead it into a long oval shape again, and repeat this process another two times. Form it into a long oval shape once more and wrap it in plastic. Allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. At this point, the dough's surface should be very smooth, or "guan hua ti shi" in Chinese.
  6. After 30 minutes, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and begin to cut the dough into noodles, using one of two methods: For the traditional method, use a very sharp knife and have a pot of boiling water ready. With your left hand, hold the oval dough pointed downward at a 30º angle, with the downward-facing edge resting on a cutting board. This will help you make smooth, even cuts. With your right hand, shave the knife down the dough to create thin noodles. There's a Chinese saying to help you visualize this technique, "Knife doesn't leave the dough, and dough doesn't leave the knife." It should be a continuous loop. This technique is tricky, which is why I opted to do the second, less traditional but easier technique: Place the oval dough flat on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice off noodle pieces, as if it were a vegetable. This makes it easier to control the thickness and length. If the cut noodles begin sticking together, flour them with bread flour.
  7. Add the noodles into the boiling water and stir to prevent clumping. If you’re using the noodles for the stir-fry below, remove the noodles as soon as the water returns to a boil. Rinse with cold water and set aside. If you are using these noodles for soup, cook them completely through, about 8 minutes. Either way, they should be used immediately to ensure freshness.

For the pork chao mian stir-fry:

  • Cooking oil, as needed (Canola or peanut oil both work well)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 head napa cabbage, white and pale green parts thinly sliced and separated
  • 1 cup fresh shiitake mushroom, sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 slice fresh ginger, thinly chopped
  • 4 Thai chile peppers (chopped if you want more heat)
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • Knife-cut noodles (see recipe above)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 dash white pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 4 eggs, scrambled lightly
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Green part of scallions, to garnish
  1. Heat up a wok with some cooking oil.
  2. Add in the carrots, white parts of cabbage, and shiitake mushroom, and cook until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, and Thai chile peppers to the wok, and stir-fry until lightly brown and fragrant.
  4. Add in the pork and cook, breaking up the pieces, until browned on all sides and halfway cooked. Add the carrot/shiitake mixture back into pan.
  5. Add in the knife-cut noodles, sugar, and sauces (light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Shaoxing wine). Add the white pepper.
  6. Add in the scallions, green parts of cabbage, and egg. Stir until noodles are completely covered in sauce and the egg is scrambled in and cooked through. Add salt and white pepper to taste, and mix until well combined.
  7. Drizzle in some sesame oil and serve hot. Garnish with scallions.

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