Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Noodles are everywhere. In our supermarkets, our beloved hawker centers, polished upscale eateries, our grandma's cooking. But how often do we question where they come from? How were they made? How many hands have our noods gone through before reaching us?
If you've ever made your own noodles or pasta at home, you would be familiar with the crucial steps involved –mixing and kneading the dough, flattening, and finally shaping and cutting – and the floury mess left behind. In order to produce noodles on a massive scale, these steps have to be streamlined and refined to maximise efficiency of ingredients, time, and energy expended, as well as minimising wastage. Read on to explore exactly how this is done at LG Foods factory as we take you on a virtual tour of our noodle assembly lines.
Step 1: Mixing
Premium flour used in our noodle dough
Deep in the recesses of LG Foods lies a stockroom with bags on bags of premium flour, kept at optimum temperature and humidity levels. Here, flour is fed into to mixing machines – huge cylinders where ingredients are constantly kept in flux so as to avoid clumping and hardening – with one for each noodle type. What comes out of the mixers are shaggy bits of dough that, from afar, resemble crumbled up tofu.
Dough from the mixer to the compounding
Step 2: Rolling and lamination
The crumbly dough is then fed into a compounder that squeezes, rolls, and flattens the dough into sheets. The sheets are repeatedly laminated – folded and rolled – to create the silky smooth texture we love in noodles. In addition, lamination of wheat flour noodles (e.g. yellow mee, pasta, mee kia) is what creates gluten strands that give that chew and bounciness that we love in noodles.
Dough rolled into a textured, thick sheet, and progressively flattened and smoothened
Step 3: Cutting and shaping
The process of lamination creates an extremely long sheet of dough. Like many good things, the sheet must come to an end. So it is sliced, either to be set aside to rest, or immediately fed through rolling blades to form strands of noodles. Our wanton skins, on the other hand, are instead manually cut into circles by our assembly line workers.
Trimming of shaped noodles by machine and cutting of wanton skins by hand
Step 4: Cooking and cooling (only rice noodles and yellow mee)
Newly cut rice noodles and yellow mee, specifically, are passed through steam or boiling water via conveyor belt. The conveyor belt then brings the cooked noodles through a cooler that rinses and blow-dries them, so as to end the cooking process and preserve the texture of the noodles.
Cooking and cooling of rice and yellow mee
Step 5: weighing and packaging
The finished noodles are now ready to be portioned. The noodles are weighed and re-portioned if necessary before packaging. The portions are then slotted into their packaging for supermarket retail and food service (catering and restaurants), sealed, and carried off via conveyor belt to trays to be stored. Interestingly, the weighing and packaging for hawker center and food court stalls specifically are done lovingly by hand, and put into larger packets. This makes it quick and easy for cooks to grab the noodles and cook them immediately.
Hand-measured wanton noodles, machine-packaged ipoh hor fun
Step 6: Making of lasting goodness
Because we do not add preservative ingredients to our noodles, they have a limited shelf life...but we've found a way to keep them fresh for longer. Cooked packaged noodles are slotted into pasteurisation chambers that use high pressure to destroy any unwanted microorganisms (bacteria, mould, viruses) and guarantee food safety. Furthermore, since heat is not used, the nutritional value of our noodles is maintained.
The making of noodles is an intricately thought-out process with much to appreciate. Is there anything else about the making of noodles you're curious about?