He makes noodles the way the Gods would have desired them to be— fresh, naturally flavoured and silky smooth. Pulling out hundreds of thin long noodle strands from dough in half a minute is something that master chef Zhang Fu Gui mastered at the young age of fourteen, soon after dropping school.
The 26-year-old chef, who bagged a gold medal for his art at the traditional hand pulled noodle competition at Beijing in 2005, displayed his deft noodle making skills recently at Chaobella restaurant in Crowne Plaza Today.
Fu Gui is the 100th generation of noodle makers from Gansu, China. This young chef travelled to various parts of China to master the art of cooking traditional noodles. Some of his offering include dan dan noodles from Chengdu consisting of a spicy sauce with veggies, braised beef belly noodles from Hunan and hot pot noodles from Chongqing. Fu Gui pulls out a variety of noodles from the same dough. His mao xi are super fine noodles that taste best when paired with chicken wonton and bok choy, kuan de— flat noodles best enjoyed with pork chop gravy, san leng— triangular noodles that go with stir fried lamb. His personal favourite are the knife shaved ones that he shaves off from a slightly harder dough placed on his arm with the help of a noodle shaver. “You must try them with hot and spicy vegetable, Sichuan style,” he says.
The chef who has just arrived in the capital already has fans coming to him to learn his art. “They get super excited and think it’s easy to pull out noodles. It turns into a funny situation when the dough doesn’t turns into strings and you can see it all over their clothes and face,” he says.
The art of hand-pulling noodles Lamian, or hand-pulled noodles, originated from Northwest China and are the staple food of people of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province. Hand pulled noodles demand a lot more hard work and patience to make but have far superior flavours than commercial noodles. They are made by a process of continuously stretching and twisting wheat flour. Hand-pulled noodles have a small (almost 2 hours) shelf life, and contain no preservative or eggs. They are also boiled instantly while commercial noodles are steamed.
Chinese handmade noodles are said to have inspired Italian adventurer Marco Polo, who created spaghetti after he returned to his homeland.