If you think making Italian pasta is tricky, you ain’t seen nothing.
The average Japanese soba or Chinese hand-pulled noodle maker will make Mario Batali, in all his haughty righteousness, look like, well, me making pasta.
The videos here represent a selection of noodle making skill that shows how these cultures have perfected the art of the noodle.
Soba means buckwheat, and soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour However, contrary to popular belief, they are not always made with pure buckwheat since the lack of gluten yields noodles that break apart easily.
According to the video description, when they are made with 100% buckwheat, they are called Ju-wari soba. Some of the description is written in Japanese characters. I am not 100% sure of the translation (using Google translate), but it seems to indicate that this fellow is using his own technique or recipe for making the noodles.
Whatever the case, he has a deft hand and displays tremendous skill!
Watch the method he uses, with the rolling pin(s) to shape the flattened round dough into a square. This part looks like it takes time and patience.
To turn this flat and square piece of dough into noodles, no machine is used. He folds the dough, a process called tatami. Then places the folded rectangle of dough onto a rectangular board with lots of flour spread on it. More flour goes on top the dough. Then another board with an extra piece of wood on one end goes on top, which serves as a cutting gauge. Then, he uses a special blade to carefully cut the folded dough into think noodles, one at a time.
The whole process takes around 14 minutes. Somebody’s a good cook! Check out the video below.
If you think that was something, watch how they make Chinese hand-pulled noodles in this next video below. This process will blow your mind. It’s as if the noodles appear by magic.
The stretchy elastic dough is much different than the soba noodle dough and the dough is never rolled or flattened.
The dough is skillfully manipulated and pulled then elongated, folded, twisted, folded, and twisted again, over and over; and broken into short tubular sections. Then, a section is taken and stretched and folded in a hard to follow way until suddenly, noodles appear. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss when a piece of dough becomes a bunch of long noodles! If Marco Polo brought pasta over from China, he missed something in the recipe!