Friday, April 2, 2010

NOTD #6: shou gan mian (hand-rolled noodles)

First of all, the best thing about Easter: The Washington Post peeps diorama contest. Check out the photos here.

And now back to noodles. One of the things that makes noodle exploration in Beijing so fun--and probably the only thing that makes it possible to have a whole blog devoted almost entirely to noodles--is the tremendous variety of ways that noodles are made. In the States, Chinese noodles are almost always the spaghetti-like noodles usually labeled lo mein noodles. Here there are mian pian (square noodles a bit bigger than postage stamps), shou la mian (hand pulled noodles), knife-cut noodles, noodles created by flicking a single chopstick against a ball of dough...the list goes on and on.

Probably my favorite of these many types are called shou gan mian, or hand-rolled noodles. The dough is first rolled out like pie dough, then cut into thick strips about a third of an inch wide.

They are chewier and less uniform in size than hand-pulled noodles. Often served with slivers of cucumber and black bean sauce, at restaurants that specialize in shou gan mian you order a bowl of noodles and then choose a topping from a long list.

Or, if you are really hungry and really like noodles and can't decide which topping you want, you order four of them:

(Counterclockwise from top left: eggplant with pork, green beans, tomato with scrambled egg, green peppers with pork)

Then you mix your topping with your noodles and eat it all as quickly as possible. No photos--that part went by too quickly.

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