Friday, September 16, 2016

Penghui for Noodles

 I've been experimenting with an odd alkaline substance this past week. It goes into a lamian noodle, apparently used often in China though fairly impossible to find in the US. It's called penghui and as far as I can tell is ash, processed in some fantastic way, made from mugwort, which is an Artemesia species. The first time I made a solution and rubbed it onto a well worked and rested wheat flour dough. It was made from King Arthur Bread Flour. Not much happened and it didn't behave differently from the batch not rubbed with the solution.

But today I made a batch with 1/16 of a tsp of this white powder directly into a cup of flour and water. Worked for 15 minutes, left over night and then cut and worked into noodles this morning. It was very stretchy. A few strands broke so I couldn't get it into one super long noodle to wrap around my hands many times and stretch, but it made a pretty decent pulled lamian all the same.

My only complaint is that the cooked noodles above tasted a little chalky like Bayer aspirin. Maybe a hint of sulfur too. I rinsed in cold water for a while.

Then they went into a lamb stock with kale. Actually really chewy, and a great noodle. But I noticed afterwards a slimy texture in my mouth and a little lye-burn on my tongue and palate. It's still a little burnt a full 12 hours later. So I do not recommend putting this in the dough.

I'm going to try a diluted solution and working it into the kneaded and rested dough, maybe a little more of it, not just splashed on, will work without tasting weird.


Watch online said...

I love eat noodles in any form.

Cristina said...

Ken, I wonder if penghui is the same as or related to what Mexico knows as cal--in English, builder's lime. It's a white chalky powder that would definitely leave that same kind of taste in one's mouth. In Mexico's kitchen, of course, it's mixed with water, brought to a simmer, and used to nixtamalize corn.

WireMonkey said...

I've been wondering about basic ingredients lately, myself. A while back I remember a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where a restaurant owner was making hand pulled noodles and sprinkled lye water during the pulling process; I was curious if it lent elasticity to the outside since hand pulled noodle dough can be a little Play-Doh like. I've subsequently gotten Chinese lye water and Filipino lye water but they're for different uses and unknown concentrations and as such I've no idea how to safely use them and not get burned like you mention in this post

Ken Albala said...

no, cal is calcium carbonate, used in food prep in many ways. This stuff is ash from Artemisia sp.

Ken Albala said...

My guess is it could have been this except its nearly impossible to get in the US, even via internet.