Gluten-free, low-carb, chewy all-purpose noodles made of chicken breast
“ The wisdom in exploring Mars
lies in a single dumpling. ”
The merits to explore Mars may not be a subject that lands on a food blog very often. Yet.
Since the 1990’s, the world has spend billions of dollars over the span of numerous unmanned missions to probe at this relentlessly desolate planet far beyond human’s physical reach. And it has incurred questions, perhaps not so unreasonably, about what benefits, if any, that all of these hardcore sciencing could realistically bring to mankind. What’s the point of studying an unreachable plane that most likely cannot sustain any lifeforms but Matt Damon, at least in the foreseeable future? Wouldn’t it make more moral sense to redirect all those money, instead, on the many more immediate issues left unsolved on good old planet earth? And at the end of the day, does anyone really want to live on fucking Mars anyways?
While there are many scientific counter-arguments to those questions out there made by much smarter people who do math, here as a mere moron who survived one week in her high school physics class, I am simply going to put it like this:
The wisdom in exploring Mars lies in a single dumpling.
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Yes, a dumpling. No, not just any dumpling, but a dumpling, or more specifically, the wrapper of a dumpling that comes from the Fujian region of southern China. They call it, yanpi dumplings, or aka, rouyan.
(In direct translation meaning “meat sparrow”, poetically because of the dumpling’s tiny bird-like physique, appropriately anticipated to be played by Johnny Depp in a Disney adaptation.)
What sets this dumpling apart from any others is that its wrapper – instead of being made of wheat flour or any stand-alone starches – is, like magic, predominantly made of pork. Yes, pork, plus tapioca starch to be exact, but nonetheless, mainly fucking pork. How is this even possible you ask? Well, it involves a meticulous process of mercilessly pounding lean pork literally to a pink pulp before repeatedly mixing and rolling it with tapioca starch until the mixture flattens into submission, defies logic, and expands into a sheet so thin it’s almost paper-like.
For no other reasons than the hand-pureeing of pork and how impossibly thin this wrapper is required to be (both none-issues in this recipe so relax), that the process of making yanpi had become too labor-intensive and thus impractical to be adopted by popular food culture on the international stage, as it remains, unfortunately so, still just a little-known local delicacies in selective parts of southern China.
Now, this brings me back to Mars.
Thing is, you simply don’t know where discoveries will take you. Before industrial revolution when meat was still expensive and voluptuousness implies prestige, did a dumpling wrapper really need to be made of pork, thus making it low-carb? And back in the several centuries before the concept of gluten was even a thing, was anyone crying out loud for it to be made of starch instead of wheat flour, thus making it gluten-free? Did all the back-breaking R&D behind this dumpling wrapper, the blood-stained tears of the chef and the splitting callus of his hands, really answering at the time to a much needed demand of the society at large?
Fuck no. Just a dude who got curious and a lotta other dudes who thought it was tasty. If all thing went correctly in the world, chances were, this wrapper should’ve faded into obscurity like corn dogs.
But, as you might know, it came the age of the new world.
And who would’ve thought, with it, also came an incredibly large demographic who successfully convinced themselves to be gluten-sensitive even though they most likely are not. And weirdly, foods became such an excess that obesity is liken to a pandemic and carbohydrates are passionately identified as the evil culprit. The world, unexpectedly, had become a place where gluten… well does something to you… and carbs definitely makes you fat. A world where the validity of this little invention called yanpi, all of a sudden, arose to be legit, sound, or even direly needed.
Not anymore as a dumpling wrapper but, listen to this, as an all-purpose, actually chewy and silky, gluten-less and low-carb alternative dough to all things noodles and pasta.
Do I have your attention?
Now remember the issues of it being a labor-intensive business? Well, with the new world it also came, the great food-processor. With modern machinery, the pureeing of the meat… oh speaking of which, I have substituted the tradition of pork with chicken breast for more accessibility… the pureeing of the meat becomes entirely effortless. And because of the repurposing of the dough from paper-thin wrapper to noodle/pasta, this recipe is honestly much easier than regular noodle or pasta. Very minimal kneading is required, no resting and the elastic nature of wheat flour (gluten) to combat with, I found the process to be a relative cinch.
Is it carb-free? Absolutely not, but with more than 50% being lean protein, I’d imagine that in your leg-shaking, noodle-deprived moment of urgent desire halfway through a miserable diet, it would come to your boiled fish meal like a god-sent. Not to mention that you can adapt it to any recipes you prefer, with this simple fettuccine alfredo as a start in this unexpected journey of a little dumpling they call the meat sparrow.
So, what I’m trying to say with all this is, yes, I’d like to know more about Mars.
UPDATED JAN/14/2021: After consideration I’ve replace some of the tapioca flour with cornstarch to get the texture of the noodles even closer to real ones. If you like a super chewy noodle, you can use full tapioca starch. If you want them to be even softer, you can increase the ratio of cornstarch.
You can make this noodle with chicken breast, very lean pork or even beef. Noodles made of pork or beef will be even firmer and chewier. Just make sure that the meat has very little to no fat and all the silver skins, tendons and connective tissues are removed.
This dough can be used in any other noodle recipes. Although more work, you can cut them thinner, or even make them into your favorite pasta shapes. Read the instructions carefully for applications.
- 7 oz (200 grams) chicken breast, or very lean pork or beef
- 1/4 heaping tsp sea salt
- 1 cup tapioca flour/starch, see note *
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to serve
- MAKE DOUGH: Dice the chicken breast (or lean pork or beef) into small pieces and place in a food-processor with sea salt. Run the processor for 1~2 minutes until the meats are pureed into a pink goo-like substance. If you're using lean pork or beef, you may need to process them a minute longer because of their tougher, longer fibers, which will make the cutting later more difficult if not broken down. Meanwhile in another bowl, pour the boiling water into the tapioca flour. Use a spoon to mash and mix until an even, dry and shaggy mixture forms. Add the flour-mixture into the food-processor, along with 2/3 of the cornstarch, and pulse until a dough-like mixture forms. The dough should be slightly sticky, leaving just a little bit on your fingers when you tap on it. If it's stickier than that, add the rest of the cornstarch and pulse again.
- SHAPE DOUGH: Because of the texture of this dough, it will not do well and may be caught stuck in an electric pasta roller/maker. But don't worry because it's easy to do by hand.
- Transfer the dough onto a working surface dusted with more tapioca flour to prevent sticking. The dough should feel moist but not overly sticky. Shape the the dough into a thick log, then roll it out into a rectangular sheet about 1/16" (1.5 mm) thick. It's important that you keep BOTH SIDES the dough well floured with tapioca as you go. Instead of dusting, scatter the flour onto and smooth it out across the surface on both sides as you go. Because of the nature of gluten-less dough, it will break more easily than normal wheat doughs, so don't be alarmed if there is some breakage on the edges and whatnots.
- Keeping it well floured, fold the sheet by half lengthwise, then half again, and cut 1/2" (1 cm) segments across the width. Because of the fibrous texture, use a sharp knife and do it in a slicing motion. If you don't mind more work, you can cut the noodles thinner than 1/2". Once done, unfold the noodles gently, undoing the first fold, then the second fold, and leave them laying separated on the counter as they are. DO NOT fluff them or curl them up like you'd do with normal noodles because again, this dough breaks more easily. I don't recommend freezing for the noodle shapes because of this reason, but you can certainly make gnocchi shapes or other stubby types for freezing.
- TO COOK: Bring a large pot of water with a hefty pinch of salt to boil like you would cooking pasta. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and bring unsalted butter to a sizzle, add garlic, thyme and ground black pepper and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. In another pot, bring heavy cream, whole milk, Greek yogurt, fish sauce, grated nutmeg and a hefty pinch of grated Parmigiano to a simmer. Stir to combine and turn off the heat and set aside.
- Once the water comes to a rapid boil, gently transfer the noodles into the pot. Gently stir around with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, and cook for about 30 seconds more after the noodles have floated to the top. This will happen quite quickly as all fresh noodles do. Transfer the noodles with a strainer and into the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook until the cream has thickened slightly. Drizzle the garlic/thyme butter over the top and serve immediately with more grated cheese. You can use this noodle to replace wheat noodles in any other recipes you like.
* If you like a super chewy noodle, you can use full tapioca starch. If you want them to be even softer, you can increase the ratio of cornstarch.
DarwinJuly 24, 2020 at 10:45 PM
How many portions does this recipe make?
mandy@ladyandpupsJuly 25, 2020 at 1:17 AM
Darwin, oops sorry, for two :)
ClaraJuly 25, 2020 at 1:52 AM
Hi! Recent subscriber to your blog and huge fan of your cooking and your narrative voice here. Just wanted to say that coeliac disease and gluten intolerance are in fact majorly undiagnosed and while not eating gluten doesn’t have health benefits for people who aren’t coeliac/intolerant, many people really do need to avoid gluten for their health. Moreover, since getting diagnosed is a long and difficult process, many people who stop eating gluten for their health and discover that they do feel better probably have some kind of undiagnosed intolerance. While it can be really annoying and frustrating when it seems like special diets are popping out of the woodwork, the greater availability of gluten free options – even if they come about because the vast majority of people eating them are simply following a fad – makes life a lot easier for people who have no realistic choice. That said, thank you VERY MUCH for introducing this fascinating noodle recipe! My coeliac wife and I will definitely have to try it. :)
mandy@ladyandpupsJuly 25, 2020 at 3:38 AM
Louis ForgetAugust 20, 2020 at 10:17 AM
many people really do need to avoid gluten for their health = Pseudo science
Nancy Rauch LaytonJuly 25, 2020 at 2:03 AM
What an interesting idea. I’m already thinking about swapping the more nutritious tigernut flour for the tapioca flour….an what about fish instead of chicken?? As always, thank you for your blog…love your words and ideas.
mandy@ladyandpupsJuly 25, 2020 at 3:38 AM
Nancy, I’ve never used tigernut and Not all starches work the same either. I would suggesting substitute 1/4 Of the tapioca w your choice of flour first and see how it turns out.
Nancy Rauch LaytonJuly 25, 2020 at 4:34 AM
Any thoughts about fish as the protein? Thanks!
NLAugust 22, 2020 at 7:12 AM
Not exactly the same (probably much bouncier/lighter vs. chewier with body), but https://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/fish-paste-noodles-surimi-men perhaps?
Nancy LaytonAugust 24, 2020 at 10:26 AM
esoJuly 25, 2020 at 5:54 AM
How many servings in this recipe? Is it advisable to double or does it mess up the proportions?
esoJuly 25, 2020 at 5:55 AM
Never mind! I just saw the first question – it didn’t show up until I made this comment.
JeanneJuly 30, 2020 at 1:06 PM
Omg, this HUGE for those of us who are diabetic (and those who are eating a keto diet). THANK YOU!
JulieAugust 3, 2020 at 11:25 AM
Love your recipes! This definitely did not disappoint. I have a few questions. I noticed your noodles have a more yellowish tint to them. For some reason, my noodles were more white and they plumped up when I boiled them. Is this supposed to happen? I found the texture of the noodles to be more like tapioca pearls. Is it possible I just need to add more chicken? My chicken also was not a goo like texture, but more of a paste. So, the dough was not sticky. Any recommendations on how I can approve? Thanks in advance!
mandy@ladyandpupsAugust 3, 2020 at 2:02 PM
Julie, it definitely sound like the ratio of tapioca and chicken is a bit off in your dough. You can increase the chicken a bit and Try to find that right balance.
JulieAugust 3, 2020 at 11:55 PM
Great, thanks! Will give it a try.
ScarlettAugust 6, 2020 at 3:04 AM
It just so happens I work on that Mars mission and was supporting the launch in the systems testbed last week. I kinda like what you said about exploring Mars – after all, it’s development of satellite technology and plumbing the depths of general relativity that gave us GPS! We’re tremendously excited to find out what we’ll learn from Mars.
Additionally, space exploration taps into a deep atavistic well of humanity in all of us – throughout all of human history, in every civilization, we’ve looked up at the sky and wondered what’s out there. Missions like these feed our collective curiosity in a way that isn’t directly tangible, but has a deep impact in how we see the world and how we value science and research. This is the sort of thing that inspires young people to want to know more about the world, and make it a better place. (See also: my childhood friends fascinated by Spirit and Opportunity who are now working on tech advancements to healthcare, new energy concepts, new modes of communication).
Also, I love the chewiness that tapioca brings, so I will definitely be trying this and following up with results!
mandy@ladyandpupsAugust 6, 2020 at 2:06 PM
Scarlett, love everything you said and cheers to unlocking the wonders of the unknown :)
Skarlett YoungAugust 6, 2020 at 10:01 PM
Spaghetti according to this recipe will be the main dish on any table! I really love that the pasta itself is made from raw dough and not purchased at the store. I try to monitor my diet more. And I really love spaghetti. I’m glad I found the gluten free noodle recipe! When I stopped eating gluten foods, my skin felt firmer and softer. Of course, it is very important what kind of cosmetics I use. I try to use minimal makeup. My friends say that I began to look several years younger. I know that this is a merit of both my nutrition and the cosmetics that I use!
Sarah HAugust 22, 2020 at 12:29 AM
Hi Mandy! I’ve been a huge fan of your blog and book. I tried this recipe last night – it was delicious!! We did a more traditional seared oil topping instead of the alfredo though (I cannot eat dairy). I understand your caution about how sticky the batter is – we will probably not roll these again. Have you tried any other noodle shapes (besides gnocchi)? We’re wondering how this dough would work out with a knife-cut noodle technique – curious if you’ve tried it.
JoySeptember 16, 2020 at 3:52 AM
These are fantastic! I’ve never had gluten free noodles that were so nice and chewy. I used them for spicy Szechuan noodles. They were great! And very filling with all that extra protein. The dough was a little sticky, but was fine as long as I sprinkled a lot of tapioca flour. I used a metal bench scraper to cut the noodles. That made it very easy.
A M BoothNovember 13, 2020 at 3:42 AM
Can’t wait to try this. BTW you may want to check out the podcast “Ologies” – there’s a 2 part episode interviewing an amazing young woman who studies Mars.
Olivia MaurerDecember 25, 2020 at 11:09 PM
Great recipe! In allergic to wheat; boyfriend is on a low-carb diet; this has been a fun and delicious experiment. Rolled out gnocchetti as a labor of love for my boyfriend and they turned out wonderfully. I can confirm that the stubby shapes freeze very well. He loved them but I want them a little less chewy! How much does the chew vary when substituting corn starch in for tapioca?
Thank you for sharing this delightfully odd sacrilegious pasta!
mandy@ladyandpupsDecember 26, 2020 at 3:10 AM
Olivia, you can try using all cornstarch or 1/3 tapioca and 2/3 cornstarch… I’m curious to know too lol.
Olivia MaurerDecember 27, 2020 at 8:37 AM
Update: tried making two potstickers with the remaining dough because I was tired of rolling out gnocchetti. They had too much of a bite to them but were surprisingly close. Next time I make some I’ll try all corn starch and report back! If it works that might be my go-to dumpling wrapper recipe!
ChrisJanuary 17, 2021 at 2:22 AM
Thank you for this blog and your book, I am enjoying both.
In the latest version of the recipe above I wonder if there is a typo, it lists “1 tapioca flour/starch, see note *” Does this call out 1C of tapioca flour?
mandy@ladyandpupsJanuary 17, 2021 at 10:36 PM
Chris, ah sorry fixed! You’re correct.
mareApril 30, 2021 at 7:20 AM
Just made this today for my husband. He loved them. Thank you so much. I’ll continue to experiment. I was wondering, do you think i can get away with using the pasta attachments to my kitchenaid stand mixer? I’d prefer a noodle a little less rustic than the ones i made. Anyways: bravo and thank you!
mandy@ladyandpupsApril 30, 2021 at 1:15 PM
Mare, I’m afraid not. It will just get caught the roller and it won’t be pretty :)
mareMay 3, 2021 at 7:31 AM
Thanks for your reply!!
Yvonne BarberSeptember 17, 2021 at 12:45 PM
Well I came here because Emmy tested this recipe and I wanted to try it. I did not expect to be faced with such an abled rhetoric dismissing several actual health conditions.
Celiac, Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, wheat allergy and other similar conditions are real. Several of them have diagnostic tests, some don’t because medical science has not advanced to the point they know how to test for them yet. These conditions affect 1 in 3 people to varying degrees.
The tone of your commentary is harmful and discriminatory. Just because some other people jumped on the bandwagon thinking gluten free was the next fad diet (hint gluten free is higher in calories than regular) does not give you a free hand in belittling people with a legitimate illness.
Please update this commentary remove the insults and discrimination.
zoe cousarSeptember 18, 2021 at 1:28 AM
lmao i was literally going to say that i have celiac disease so that def irked me lol
BrevemikeSeptember 18, 2021 at 12:48 PM
This is Mandy’s blog, they can belittle whoever they like.
Also, Mandy’s comment was clearly aimed at those poseurs who need to adopt the latest health/diet fad. You’ve met them. Claiming to suffer from a gluten sensitivity and then “forgetting” about that croissant they’re having with their “half double decaffeinated half-caf, with a twist of lemon”.
I see no conflict in a pig being a pet and Spam/bacon/chorizo.
JessOctober 14, 2021 at 10:14 AM
I’d love to know the actual grams of carbs these noodles have per serving since it’s being shared as a low-carb dish?
mandy@ladyandpupsOctober 14, 2021 at 1:38 PM
Jess, it’s low-carb relative to normal wheat flour noodles because 1/2 of it is meat. But it’s def not no-carb because of the starch. I’ll be easy to calculate the carb based on the starch used.
Rachel KileyOctober 19, 2021 at 1:52 AM
Put this recipe into My Fitness Pal each serving is 712 calories3.6 gms of fat, 131.2 gms cho, 30.8 gms protein. This may be gluten free but I don’t think you can call it low carb
ElizabethDecember 9, 2021 at 10:26 PM
More recently, a lot of people have started thinking about the health effects of gluten. It is good that there is now a wide variety of gluten-free products and meals to help you eat safely.
Iris TseFebruary 20, 2022 at 9:48 AM
Has anyone successfully used this recipe as their potsticker wrapper dough?