Making Fujian misua, China’s longest noodle, is as intense as a workout

Oct 05, 2020

Misua is made by stretching dough to over 100 feet. That’s why some people consider it the longest noodle in China.

Huang Jia, 64, doesn’t need to go to the gym to stay fit. His daily routine is a workout in itself.

For the past 40 years, Huang has been making misua, a thin, wheat-based noodle from Fujian Province in eastern China.

He’s a one-man band, turning over 100 pounds of dough into noodles every day by hand. It’s an arduous process.

Huang Jia makes misua at his shop in Fujian Province, eastern China.
Huang Jia makes misua at his shop in Fujian Province, eastern China. / Photo: Patrick Wong

Misua is made by stretching dough to over 100 feet. That’s why some people consider it the longest noodle in China. It’s often eaten on birthdays as a symbol of longevity.

Huang’s family has been making the noodles for four generations. Every day, he wakes up early in the morning to pound, knead, and stretch dough into long, delicate strands.

“When making this handmade noodle, we use salt, water, and flour, nothing else,” he says.

A finished batch of misua.
A finished batch of misua. / Photo: Patrick Wong

The secret is prioritizing good ingredients. Huang gets his flour from a trusted local mill, which he says makes all the difference.

“If the flour is bad, don’t blame the teacher. Even the gods can’t do anything.”

Huang Jia

“If the flour is good, anyone can make good noodles,” he says. “But if the flour is bad, don’t blame the teacher. Even the gods can’t do anything.”

The key to misua’s flexibility is time. After the dough is kneaded, it’s left to rest so that gluten can develop. Gluten is what makes the dough elastic.

(Read more: The secret to stretchy hand-pulled noodles: A desert plant)

Huang adjusts the room’s temperature and humidity with a thermostat to achieve the right consistency.

“If it doesn’t rest long enough, it will break when you pull it,” he says.

Once the dough has rested, the hardest part begins. He rolls the dough into fat strands and starts hitting them against the floor like battle ropes to lengthen them.

Making misua is a full-body workout.
Making misua is a full-body workout. / Photo: Patrick Wong

Then, he coils up the dough on bamboo plates before wrapping them around metal poles, which he pulls apart to further lengthen the dough.

Now stretched to over 100 feet, the noodles are brought out for sun-drying, which Huang says produces the best flavor. “If you blow dry them, they won’t be as aromatic,” he says.

The noodles are left outside to sun-dry.
The noodles are left outside to sun-dry. / Photo: Patrick Wong

The noodles are typically cooked in soup and served with shallot oil, some scallions, and a dollop of oysters, a local specialty.

Misua has a long history, with records of the dish dating back to over 1,000 years. The noodles have become such an iconic part of Fujian Province that the local government has taken steps to preserve the making process.

(Read more: The dying trade of making shrimp paste by hand)

For his part, Huang says he’s passing the torch to his son.

“The government says they want to preserve this and continue it,” he says. “I’ve asked other people to come learn, but no one wants to, so I’ve taught my own son.

“Right now, his noodles are not all that different from mine.”

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Credit

Producer: Clarissa Wei

Videographer: Patrick Wong

Editor: Nicholas Ko

Animation: Ray Ngan

Mastering: Victor Peña