Jing Gao Makes Three Chinese Dishes with One Dough
After kicking off our new series Chefs at Home last week with Fermín Nuñez from Suerte in East Austin, we’re back with Jing Gao, founder and CEO of Fly By Jing. She shows us how to use one dough recipe to make three different Chinese dishes—Sweet Water Noodles, Biang Biang Noodles, and scallion pancakes. As you watch, Gao will tell you all about her essential kitchen ingredients, her indispensable kitchen tool, and plenty of other tips. Read on for the step-by-step method and follow along with the video above.
Make the Dough and the Sweet Water Noodles
Gao says the two noodle doughs are “pretty much a variation of the same thing,” flour, salt, and water. She starts off with the Sweet Water Noodles, grabbing 250 grams of flour (she’s using bread flour here; you want something high-gluten and not low-gluten like cake flour), one teaspoon of salt, and half a cup of water. After using a stand mixer outfitted with a dough hook to form the dough, she pulls it off, forms it into a ball, and lets it rest for one to two hours so the proteins bind to each other. This will make the dough elastic and easier to pull without breaking.
Next, it’s time to make the noodles. Gao rolls the dough out into an oval shape—not too thin, you want the noodles to be chewy—and lets it rest for another half an hour. Then she cuts the dough oval into pieces “roughly about a finger’s width,” lets them rest a little bit, and starts pulling them to form the noodles. (You want them to “at least double in length,” she notes.) Being patient is key: If you pull too fast, you’ll break the noodles.
Gao puts the noodles in a pot of salted water and mixes them with chopsticks so they don’t stick together. They cook for three to four minutes—once they start to rise to the top, they’re almost ready to go. When they’re fully cooked, she takes them out and pours sesame oil on them to prevent sticking.
All that’s left to do is make the sauce for the noodles, which Gao describes as a “sweet, spicy, savory, [and] thick.” First, she prepares a sweet soy sauce with equal parts brown sugar and soy sauce, recommending you let it sit overnight with the star anise and piece of cassia bark (take them out the next day). Then she makes a chili oil. You can use any type of chili for the latter, she says, but she prefers er jing tiao because it’s “the most fragrant.” She recommends letting that oil rest too (overnight is best), and then uses both the chili oil and sweet soy sauce to make the Sweet Water sauce, calling for minced garlic and sesame paste or tahini as well. She adds the noodles and sesame seeds to the bowl, mixes it all together, and adds more sesame seeds for a final garnish.
Biang Biang Noodles
Next up is the Biang Biang Noodles, which Gao says will “require a bit more stretching.” Just like with the Sweet Water Noodles, you’ll want to let the dough rest for one to two hours at room temperature before cutting. Then she forms it into a rectangular shape and cuts it into five strips, rolling them out to be flatter, about 0.5 centimeters thinner than the Sweet Water Noodles. After oiling both sides, they go in the fridge for 30 minutes, and then rest at room temperature out of the fridge for another 30 minutes.
Now, it’s time to pull. She makes an indent in the middle of a strand and then pulls it, slapping the noodle against the counter to work the gluten in the dough. She grabs the noodle in the middle where the indent was and pulls the noodle to divide it (you can make four noodle strands from each strip of dough, she says). She cooks them for one to two minutes, removes them, and heats some grapeseed oil in a pan while she adds aromatics to the noodles—minced garlic, minced ginger, scallions, and a mix of pre-ground chilis, cumin, coriander, and kosher salt. Then, she pours the heated oil on top of the noodles, releasing the fragrance of the ingredients, and pours black vinegar and soy sauce over the top, too. You should eat them quickly for the best texture, and slurp to enhance their flavor.
The dough Gao uses for the scallion pancakes is essentially the same dough used for the noodles, save for the fact that it uses hot water instead of cold water. This cooks the dough slightly and helps the pancake get crispy, she explains. After you form the dough and let it rest, you’re ready to roll. She separates it into two balls, rolls it out until it’s “quite thin”—you want two sheets—and grabs coconut oil for both the pancakes and the pan. (You can use any oil or fat good for frying, the video notes). She coats both sheets with the oil and salts them, adding some of the Fly By Jing Mala Spice Mix as well. Then she adds the scallion pieces.
After that, Gao rolls the sheets up, divides each roll into three pieces, and flattens the pieces with her hand and then a rolling pin until they’re “a little bit bigger than your hand.” She heats up more oil in a non-stick pan and cooks the pancakes for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they’re golden brown. They come out super crispy, and with a drizzle of chili oil (you can use the same oil that you made for the Sweet Water Noodles), they’re ready to eat.
Come back next Monday for the next episode of Chefs at Home featuring Rawlston Williams of The Food Sermon.