Have you been craving a bowl of hand-pulled noodles lately? When you think about it, noodles aren’t restricted to just the most populous parts of East Asia where tourists flock. All over Asia, Australia, Europe, North America – even in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America – you’re bound to find some variations of noodles. Let’s have a closer look at Chinese noodles in particular.
A Short History
In 2005, archaeologists claim they had found the oldest known traces of noodles anywhere on the planet – and they were 4,000-year-old Chinese noodles! Back then, the noodles were made from millet, a different type of grain than we would expect to see today. Modern Chinese noodles are made of wheat, although they can also be made from rice. Wherever you go, whether you’re in America, China, or Taiwan, it’s relatively easy to find Chinese-style noodles.
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Shanghai for later this summer. Start walking around a few blocks, and sooner or later you will find these different types of Chinese noodles:
- Beef “la mian” noodles from Lanzhou (the famous hand-pulled wheat noodles!)
- Knife-cut noodles (long noodles which are cut with a knife to shorten them!)
- Sesame noodles (made with sesame paste, oil, scallions, and some peanut butter!)
- Noodle soup (the classic that has many different versions around the world!)
How They’re Made
Now that you’ve read a bit about noodles in general, let’s dive into how they are made before they are brought to you to dig into, shall we? As we’ve noted, mian is the common name for Chinese noodles made from wheat, although you’ll find that egg noodles also fall into this category. Meanwhile, fen is the name of Chinese noodles from rice, beans, or any other kind of starchy base.
When you see someone make hand-pulled noodles, it might seem as though they are making pizza. They stretch the dough until it is soft and pliable. But instead of flattening it into discs, they’ll keep pulling until it is long and thin, and then dropped into boiling water to cook for ten minutes, then brought out to be topped with broth, meat, and green onions – these are some of the most common trimmings for Chinese noodles, but not the only ones!
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