How Scissor-Cut Noodles Easily Shape Themselves

Standing in your kitchen, you recall the delightful chewiness of a noodle dish savored at a restaurant in Chinatown, with a delightful mouthfeel known to the Cantonese as daan ngaa and to the Taiwanese as Q or QQ — a texture Westerners know as chewy or al dente pasta. One dish that fits this description is a dish known as jian dao mian in Mandarin, which translates as scissor-cut noodles. The method is distinct to the Shanxi province in China, which is celebrated for its standout noodle varieties, such as the hand-pulled biang biang mian, its soup-soaked dough or flatbread, dao xiao mian or knife-cut noodles, and, of course, this scissor-snipped sort. 

Whether drenched in a piquant málà dressing, steeped in a delicious MSG-laden broth, or tossed in a wok-hei-heady stir-fry, the alluringly chewy jian dao mian is a delicious and versatile noodle staple. These noodles are also surprisingly easy to make at home, as their signature shape is not hand-formed but a result of tossing them in boiling water where they form up all on their own.

How to make and enjoy scissor-cut noodles

You only need flour, water, salt or miso, and kitchen shears to make scissor-cut noodles at home. After mixing the ingredients and forming a smooth dough, let it rest for at least 15 minutes; this will ensure your noodles will be ideally Q in texture. When the dough is ready, shape it into a somewhat flat ovoid, then take a pair of scissors you've rubbed in cooking oil and clip away at the dough, dropping bite-sized pieces directly into a pot or saucepan of boiling water. The pinched edge of the dough will quickly form into a curl, giving these noodles their folded shape. If you're wary of hot splashing water, you can also pre-cut all the noodles before lowering them into the boiling water. 

Once cooked (and this only takes about 2 to 3 minutes), pair the noodles with your sauce of choice (go ahead and make it a fusion with a pasta sauce), stir-fry them, or enjoy simply with a drizzle of soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, and sesame oil. These noodles also go great when tossed with XO sauce or chili crisp oil. When you enjoy homemade scissor-cut noodles, you'll appreciate a taste of Shanxi at home (where this dish originated as a popular street food) and understand why gastronomes worldwide call this Northern China province noodle heaven.