January 30, 2006

Buttery Sourdough Noodles

This is Ira, the American man in my life. Otherwise known as my sourdough starter.

I grew him myself last year. Having read up on how easy it is to grow your own bread starter (mix flour and water together; wait), I of course ended up trying the most complicated starter recipe I could find. So smart… Much as I love baking bread, and eating waffles and pancakes and cakes (and all the other delicious things the internet promised me a sourdough starter could do), the thing that really caught my imagination was sourdough noodles.

I’m a bit of a noodle freak. Pasta, udon, mung bean – you name it, I love it. So I ended up making an obscure pelmeni starter from whey, egg yolks and durum (semolina) wheat. And to my total amazement, it worked. Ira was born. And he’s yeasty, bubbly and faster rising than any of the online sources suggested he would be.

I’ve been a keen follower of Is My Blog Burning for a while. A sort of recipe and photo potluck for foodbloggers, each monthly IMBB gives me a slew of new ideas. So now that I have my own blog, and this month’s theme is noodles

I present to you… buttery sourdough noodles! The first meal I ever shared with Ira, and one that I happily recreated this evening. I just scooped up some recently rested starter from the fridge, and let it sit until it was at room temperature, and slightly bubbly. Then I mixed in some flour to make a slightly firm, no-longer-sticky dough. I rolled it out on a floured board, and sliced it into the thinnest strips possible, and draped the noodles over a chopping board (easy transportation to stove) draped in a kitchen towel (to prevent sticking). When I had enough noodles, I dropped them one by one into simmering salted water. When they’re in the water, they tend to seal quite quickly, so sticking is only a problem if they are all tangled together before they hit the water. A stir with a spoon and they quickly rose to the surface. I scooped them up, tossed them with butter and a smidgen of salt, and ate them like that. They’re thick and almost dumplingy in their heavy, al dente goodness. In fact, they’d probably make great spaetzle in broth. As a pasta, butter is the best dressing because it doesn’t overwhelm the sourdough flavour – yeasty and slightly tangy. The original pelmeni sourdough starter recipe (whose site no longer exists, I'm afraid) says that sourdough noodles are easier to digest than normal pasta. Well, I haven’t made a study of it, but I definitely can eat bowlfuls of this without getting sick from eating (cooked) dough, as my mother no doubt believes I should.

The rolling and slicing by hand reminds me a bit of Italy, where I once made spaghetti the same way, with my Italian flatmates. Although they’d think I was crazy if they saw Ira…

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