November 5, 2010

Handmade Thin Noodles in Lugang

“Handmade” products are hardly found in the manufacturing world now. The handmade thin noodle has almost been replaced by the machine made. “Handmade” means value. It not only presents the hard work but also brings out the person persistency in keeping the traditional spirit.

We came to Fushing Township, Lugang, visiting Mr. Lin’s noodle place (林記手工麵線). Mr. Lin’s handmade thin noodles are one of the few remaining handmade noodle places in the Fushing Township while rest of them has been replaced by the machine made. They pass this ancient technique from generation to generation. I admire their spirit in keeping the ancient tradition unaffected by the society changes.

We came here in the afternoon while the drying process was almost ended. The whole process starts in the early morning and lasts about 6 hours. Lugang is near the ocean with the nice ocean breeze and plentiful sunshine which is very suitable in drying noodles. Fushing Township used to have more than 10 places in making handmade thin noodles.

Mr. Lin told us that the reason in tying the bottom of the hanging noodles was because the bottom parts of the noodles were thinner than the top due to the hanging. Tying is to prevent the bottom part from being overexposed to the sun. The length of drying is also essential because it affects the texture of the noodles; not over or under dry and maintaining the humidity of the noodles!

Mr. and Mrs Lin were taking the noodles back to the room when we got there. How disappointed were we! Mr. Lin was very humble and invited us to come back the next day early morning if the weather would permit the early process to take place.

We came back around 9:00am the next day. It was a cloudy day and we were not sure if the noodles would be made under that condition or we would have made it here earlier as they started around 5 or 6:00am.

The dough is made with flour, rough salt, and water. It is cut, extruded, kneaded to the round threads afterwards. At the same time, Mr. Lin fills the bamboo baskets by circling the threads. They get sit in the basket for the yeast process.

Tons of baskets filled with threads were ready. Mr. Lin started quickly to wound the threads in an “8” shape direction into a two parallel bamboo poles on the wall. After the wounding process was complete, he immediately sprinkled corn starch on top of the noodles to prevent the stickiness. The noodles were hung again after this process to allow the threads to drop down to the ground level.

Mr. Lin warmly invited us to enter the room and take photos while he was working. We were moving around and trying not to be in his way since he moved so fast. How funny! We were sweating heavily with white flours sticky on the chin, clothes, and cameras! He was surprised that we were sweating, so he kindly turned on the air conditioner for us. We were surprised that the air conditioner was installed in this small work room, and we were touched by his thoughtfulness!

The hanging noodles were ready to be moved to the outside courtyard. Metal frames with holes on each pole were set in the courtyard. Mr. Lin hung the bamboo pole to a frame on one side and started to pull the noodles to the other side. He pulled the noodles in an “up and down” waving motion which made the noodles thin each time he pulled. (The whole process is making the 10cm dough into 0.1cm thin noodles). It was amazing they did not break! This reminds me the Gong-Fu philosophy, “The strength coming from inside that makes it no harsh externally, but flexible internally”

Hundred of the noodles were pulled and hung in the courtyard which created an incredible scene! No wonder this is the photographers’ favorite place.

Mr. and Mrs. Lin were moving so fast in the courtyard, and we were just moving around them to find places to get some shots. The kitty seemed to know not to get in their way too!

Mr. Lin felt the rain dropping! They immediately moved the noodles back to the room. I asked them if I could help, but later I thought that I could have caused more trouble than offering help!

The noodles can be dried by the fans, heater, or in room temperature. It all depends on the dryness level of the noodles.

Each of us bought a few bags home. Each bag is NT$60 (around $2). I think it is an incredible low price for the amount of work they have put in! “Handmade” to me is priceless, and the “spirit” behind really touched me.

Address: No.9, Ln. 129, Fuxing Rd., Fuxing Township, Changhua County.

Telephone: 04-7783133

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17 comments:

London Caller said...

I love noodles a lot!
Thin noodles are one of favourites.
Most people from my country, Malaysia prefer to have rice but I can have noodles all the times. Hence, I was nicknamed Noodle King when I was little! Ha ha...

I sometimes make my own noodles at home. Just mix flour with water, with a pinch of salt. Very easy - and it's fun to knead, pull and roll.

shloke said...

Congrats on your TOP 1 blog position in Taiwan! 恭喜! Your blog keeps getting better and better! Hmmm...I think both of you can start publishing a book about "Taiwan: Travel 101 With Mickey & Kristen". I'll be the first person in line to buy an autographed version. Remember to print in English :)

I am impressed....you returned for a second trip to complete your coverage. Kudos!!! I have a question...How does it taste like? (I mean compared to machine-made noodles).

Zhu said...

我喜欢面条! 比米饭好吃 :-)

I would have loved to see the process. I'm a huge noodle fan and I often wonder how they were made. This is indeed a lot of work! Not to mention noodles are incredibly fragile... they are almost like hair.

micki and kristen said...

@Londoncaller- I like noodles as well. The handmade noodles taste so much better than the machine made noodles. Good for you making your own noodles! It must taste very good. I sometimes make green onion pancakes with a flour dough.

@Mylo- Thanks for your support and encouragement! Ha! I am not a writer, but Kristen is! She has published three travel related books in Chinese. If we do manage to publish one with the title you gave, sure, you will be the first one to receive! :) :)

It tastes more pliable than the machine made noodles. These noodles don’t become mushy as easily as the machine made noodles during the boiling process. They taste much better!

@Zhu- I like noodles more than rice too! You would have been impressed by the whole process if you were there. The 0.1cm thin noodles do not break at all each time they get thrown. They get longer and thinner each time. Through the video clip you can see that the thin noodles are so elastic and flexible~~

lechua said...

hey... fascinating indeed! very well captured with the photos of the loooonnnggg noodles... i'd like to witness something like that. great sharing this is!

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

what hard work they put in there. never even thought that in this day and age, there are still people who do them by hand. all that flying flour dust however looks like it's going to flare up someone with respiratory illness.

micki and kristen said...

@Lechua- Thanks! Indeed that was a great visit and experience. I wish all of you can witness this process!

@The Nomadic Pinoy- It was no problem, but we did become "white" in the work room and looked pretty funny~~:) It was a great pleasure to be part of it. I have my hat off to all these hard workers!

fufu said...

wow wow wow... never seen such amazing handmade noodle production :) awesome!! thanks for sharing... both video and pictures

micki and kristen said...

@Fufu- :)Thanks for watching a not ideal quality video clip. It looks fine with the media player, but the resolution seems to be reduced a lot after I uploaded it to the blogger..

London Caller said...

Well, my homemade noodles are kinda coarse! Ha ha...
But it's fun to make your noodles.
It's the process of making that counts, not the final product, I guess.
自我安慰一下。^^

You know what - I just remembered my favourite noodles!
It's 伊麵 (Yi mian) and the best way to cook it - by using a claypot!
砂煲伊麵~~~~一想到我就肚子餓了!!

micki and kristen said...

@Londoncaller- :):)I like 伊麵 too. I like 干炒伊麵! Oh, I also like 刀削麵! Oh boy! I miss 紅燒牛肉刀削麵~~~~

London Caller said...

干炒伊麵~~我也喜歡!
刀削麵嘛,我還沒吃過呢!
我在家裡做麵條的時候,有時也用刀來切,那也算半個“刀削麵”吧?呵呵!

micki and kristen said...

@Londoncaller- Wow! You never had 刀削麵? http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hant/%E5%88%80%E5%89%8A%E9%9D%A2
The photo in the link shows how 刀削麵 is made. Sounds like you really did "半個" 刀削麵! :)

ttrove said...

Thanks for sharing this. I love 麵線 but never really thought about how it is made. Learn something new today! Thank you again.
I linked your post to my blog.

micki and kristen said...

@Ttrove- Thanks for visiting and letting us know. I am glad that you find this post interesting and informative!

Anonymous said...

How did you get there from Lugang? Did you drive? I don't have a car, but I want to go this weekend!

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