Pulling a fast one on mee.

Hooke’s Law. Proteins. Chemical Bonds. And why hand-pulled noodles taste better.

How Noodles are Made and Pulled Using the Cross-links Created by Proteins and According to Hooke's Law

1-Minute NomNom

How does the master noodle chef do it? How does he take a piece of noodle dough and stretch it over and over again into more than 200 strands of noodles (also known colloquially as “mee” in parts of Southeast Asia)?

When water is added to flour to make noodle dough, the proteins in the flour become hydrated. The hydrated proteins interact and form new chemical bonds called cross-links. The number of cross-links grows and forms networks and sheets when the dough is kneaded and mixed further.

flour and noodle dough - Chef making noodles in the kitchen of cooking school.

The more cross-links there are, the more elastic something becomes; we often say this is very ductile. We know from Hooke’s Law that means the dough is very stretchable. When the right amount of force is applied over and over again without breaking the protein sheets (i.e. beyond the limits of Hooke’s Law), they become the delicious noodle strands we all know and love.

Wanton char siew noodles

Getting this right is tough: even top chefs like Gordon Ramsay can struggle with noodle pulling. But it is worth the effort to learn the secrets because hand-pulled noodles are considered to have more “spring” when we eat them, because they are so elastic. And if prepared onsite, it means we are tasting freshly made noodles. Why settle for anything less?

Feed Me!

Do you have a favorite noodle? Do you prefer your noodles to be made and prepared in a certain way? Tell me in the comments below!

Chef making egg noodles

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photos: in order – istockphoto/ P_Wei; depositphotos/OtnaYdur ; totento; luknaja

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