China is well-known for its amazing and varied noodle dishes, but in a country with so many of them on offer, which ones should you be looking out for?
5. Zhajiangmian (醡醬麵) is a hearty northern dish, popular in Beijing, consisting of thick wheat noodles topped with a mixture of ground pork that is itself stir-fried with zhajiang, which is salty fermented soybean paste, although in Imperial Beijing cuisine, hoisin sauce may be used in place of the yellow soybean paste. There are many knock-offs of Zhajiangmian across Asia, including Korea’s jajangmyeon, but Zhajiangmian remains one of the best noodle dishes around.
4. Dan Dan Mian (擔擔麵) is a famous noodle dish that originates from Sichuan province. It consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables, mustard stems, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced pork, and scallions served over noodles. The name refers to a type of carrying pole (dan dan) that was used by walking street vendors who sold the dish to passers-by. The pole was carried over the shoulder, with two baskets containing noodles and sauce attached at either end. The noodles cost almost nothing, and gradually local people came to call them dan dan noodles. Literally, the name translates as “noodles carried on a pole” but may be better translated as “peddler’s noodles”.
3. Jook Sing Mian (竹昇麵) is otherwise known as “bamboodles” due to the dough of the noodles being flattened against special bamboo log apparatus. It is pretty much eaten only in south eastern China and in Hong Kong. The noodles are made with eggs, traditionally made with duck egg, and is considered one of the rarer noodles in existence. Historically the chef rides a bamboo log to press the eggs, flour, and other ingredients together. As of 2016 in Hong Kong, only a few restaurants are left that make the noodles in the traditional manner.
2. Ants Climbing a Tree (螞蟻上樹) is a classic noodle dish from Sichuan. It consists of ground meat cooked in a sauce and poured over bean thread noodles. It is so-called because the bits of ground meat clinging to the noodles evoke an image of ants walking on twigs. To make the “ants”, meat is marinated for a short time at room temperature while the noodles are soaked to soften them. In a wok, oil is heated until almost smoking. Scallions, garlic, and ginger are cooked slightly in the wok before the marinated meat is added. The softened noodles are added to the wok to soak up the flavour and juices.
1. Biang Biang Mian (油潑扯麵) is the famous thick noodle dish from Xi’an in Shaanxi Province – and my choice as number 1 noodle dish in all of China! The noodles, touted as one of the “10 Strange Wonders of Shaanxi”, are described as being like a belt, owing to their thickness and length. They seem comparable to tagliatelle from Italian cuisine. The noodles are broad and hand-made. It was part of a poor-man’s meal in the countryside, but has recently become popular in trendy restaurants. Dishes with this noodle are often topped with lots of red hot peppers for the cold Shaanxi winter.
So which type of noodles do you prefer? Is there any famous noodle dish that you like but not included here?