Lamian is the term used for Chinese ‘hand pulled noodles’. The dishes prepared particularly with these noodles are also called by the same name. The dishes prepared with these hand-made noodles are not only consumed in China as a staple, but also consumed in other countries like Japan, Singapore, Korea and even Australia and America, where they are extensively sold in Chinese restaurants.
Lamian Recipe: Ingredients and Preparation Overview
Literally, ‘la’ in Chinese means ‘stretched’ and ‘mian’ is a Chinese term for noodles. Therefore, this name is given to these stretched noodles that are typically prepared with elastic dough that is pulled or stretched many times to produce long and thin strands of noodles. The strands are repeatedly folded and again stretched to align the gluten present in the dough.
Lanzhou style and Beijing style preparations are both different from each other and the noodle pullers use different techniques of stretching the dough. But both these preparations use flour to dust the noodles in order to prevent sticking.
Once the noodles are prepared, they are either cooked with shredded vegetables like cabbage, green peppers and onion to make a stir-fried noodle dish or combined with sliced vegetables like cucumber and tomato to make a refreshing cold summer salad.
Traditionally, Lamian is boiled and served in mutton or beef-flavored soup, popularly known as ‘tangmian’; but stir-fried noodles with a tomato based sauce is now popular as a comfort food all over the China.
Popular Cuisines Making La Mian
- Chinese – It is the cuisine of origin for Lamian recipe. Restaurants in Western China most commonly serve Lanzhau-style of La mian. Most prominently the Northwestern Chinese restaurants serving Lamian recipe are owned by Ethnic families of Hui community and only Halal food (without pork) is served in these eateries. Some of the popular varieties of hand-pulled noodles in Chinese cuisine are Shandong lamian and dao xiao mian.
- Japanese – Most commonly the Chinatowns in Yokohama and Kobe regions of Japan are famous for serving these hand-made noodles, as during Meiji Era, these noodles were first introduced in both these regions. Though ‘Ramen’ is considered to be the Japanese pronouciation for La mien by some linguists, both these noodles are relatively different from each other and therefore may not be associated with each other.
- Korean –Akin to Japanese cuisine, the Korean word ‘ramyeon’ is also believed to be the Korean pronounciation for the Chinese 'lamian'.
- American – In American cuisine, these noodles are most commonly served in Chinese restaurants located at Manhattan Chinatown. Knife-cut noodles are particularly served in these restaurants, but hand-cut noodles are also equally liked.
Various ‘la mian’ shows are arranged in China that showcase the spinning and twirling of noodles by the noodle makers,which is quite similar to Ribbon dance in China.