Today let`s look at the ultimate staple of Chinese cuisine – noodles! They can be found in hundreds of variations inside countless dishes, which has fueled not only by the changes in cooking fashion over the entire history of Chinese nation, but also because of regional preferences. The earliest known noodles found in China are dated to 4 thousand years ago. They were found in archeological findings near the Yellow River in China. However, first concrete written records of noodles come from the time when Eastern Han Dynasty reigned between 25 and 200 AD. Those early noodles were made usually from wheat dough, and they became more and more popular as centuries went on. By the time of Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), noodles could be purchased in major Chinese cities from noodle shops. As Chinese influence spread across Asia, noodles become used heavily in Korea, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and others.
Traditional noodles made in China are produced from one of the three main ingredients – wheat flour (most popular), rice flour and mung bean starch. Before they are cooked or used as part of other meals, they are cut using one of the five techniques – Cut (with knife from folded sheet of dough), Extruded (dough pushed by machine through small holes), Peeled (slices of large dough are cut directly into boiling water), Pulled (stretched dough that is folded to create thinner strands) and Kneaded (rolled dough to the point of desired shape).
Most popular dishes in Chinese cuisine that utilize noodles are without any doubt Beef chow fun, Ban mian, Cart noodle, Char kway teow, Cup Noodles, Zhajiang mian, Laksa, Lo mein and Re gan mian.
Types of Chinese Noodles:
- Wheat noodles – They are created using only water and wheat fluor, either to be boiled or baked. Some of the most popular wheat noodles are Cat’s Ear noodles, Cold noodles, Lamian, Yaka mein (similar to spaghetti), Lo mein (fried with vegetables), Misua (around 1 millimeter thin strands), Saang mein, Thick noodles, Dao xiao mian and others.
- Lye-water or egg noodles – Most popular types are Oil noodles, Thin Noodles (one of the most common in entire China), Mee pok, Yi Mein, Shrimp roe noodles and Jook-sing noodles (rare delicacy).
- Rice – They are made either by cutting rice slurry into sheets that is cut into smaller strands, or by extruding rice paste. Most popular types are Kway teow, “Ho fun, Chow fun” (flat and wide), Lai fun, Mai sin and Rice vermicelli.
- Starch – Most popular types are winter noodles (thin mung bean starch), Bean threads (almost thin like cellophane), Mung bean sheets (wide and clear), Liang pi (translucent) and Silver needle noodles.
Here are some Noodle Fun Facts, you probably didn`t know:
- It was believed that noodles were first made from millet, a kind of cereal grain in China, at around 2000 B.C. Later it was found out that noodles originated from a desert region in Central Asia, the Tarim Basin in China’s Xinjian province.
- March 11th is National “Eat Your Noodles” Day.
- October 6th is National Noodle Day.
- December 11th is National Noodle Ring Day.
- Wheat noodles in Japan (udon) were adapted from a Chinese recipe by a Buddhist monk as early as the 9th century.
- Instant noodles may be considered as an inexpensive food item today, but the fact is that they were once sold as luxury item.
- It would cost you only about $140 a year if you ate ramen for every meal.
- By federal law, a noodle must contain 5.5 percent egg solids to be called a noodle.
- The first noodles ever consumed in space were instant ramen noodles.
- Ramen is the Japanese word for Chinese “lo mein.”
- There’s a whole museum in Yokohama, Japan dedicated to Cup Noodles.
- In Japan, slurping loudly while eating your noodles is not considered a poor etiquette. Rather, it signifies appreciation for your host that the meal being served is delicious.