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If someone plopped down two steaming bowls of noodle soup and asked you which was knife-peeled and which was hand-pulled, what would you do? What if they said your life depended on correctly identifying which is which?
You would panic. Then you would wish you had barged into the kitchen and demanded to watch the chef’s every move while they were being made. For the knife-peeled noodles, you would’ve seen the chef shaving thin sheets of dough off of a giant log, kind of like pulling off slivers of the world’s largest string cheese with a knife.
If they were hand-pulled, you would have been mesmerized by the chef’s twisting and swinging of noodles around like a jump rope, occasionally slapping them against the counter in a way that may remind you of a really unfortunate deep tissue massage you once had.
But since you don’t have a time machine in this hypothetical scenario, you’re going to have to tell them apart by appearance. The knife-cut noodles will be wide and irregularly shaped, with ragged edges. If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to remove old wallpaper, you may have an unpleasant flashback while looking at these suckers.
The hand-pulled noodles will be pretty much perfectly uniform and smooth-edged, although be warned: There are several different types of hand-pulled noodles, including regular hand-pulled noodles, small wide hand-pulled noodles, big wide hand-pulled noodles, and fat hand-pulled noodles.
Wait, what’s that? You’re actually blindfolded and you have to tell them apart by taste? Don’t cry, really. This is probably the easiest part of the test.
Knife-cut noodles are velvet-soft on the surface and slippery in your mouth, as if they’ve been left to boil in water for an eternity. In other words, it’s hard to tell where the noodle begins and where your tongue ends. Despite their brink-of-disintegration mouth feel, they have a sassy little backbone of al dente-ness running through the middle.
The hand-pulled noodles, on the other hand, are going to feel smooth and elastic in your yapper. Gum them for a few seconds and you’ll feel their springiness. When you pull the noodles out of the bowl with your chopsticks, they’ll pull back Stretch Armstrong-style.
If you haven’t correctly identified the noodles at this point in your unfortunate life or death culinary predicament, you may be out of luck. But hey, at least your last meal was really delicious, right?