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Soy sauce noodles?

Chinese Condiments

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32 replies to this topic

#1 Fred12fred

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 03:00 PM

My wife and I were watching a recent tv show (I think it was Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, but could have been No Reservations (Tony Bourdain)) where the person was in Hong Kong.

In one scene, they showed someone making soy sauce noodles, which gave my wife a serious Proustian moment as she grew up in HK and misses it badly. Ever since then, she's been craving this dish.

And, I have no idea what how to go about making this for her.

From what I can tell, the dish seems to be just egg noodles, soy sauce, and bean sprouts. They're all stir fried on high heat. That's it.

Clearly, there must be something more to this. Is it just soy sauce or some special blend of things? Garlic? Onion?

I pretty much know that the "secret" is going to be in the frying part, but I'd at least like to have a small chance of recreating this by knowing what to put in the dish.

So, I turn to the great masses of eGullet and ask: does anyone know what this dish is? And, can you please help me figure out how to recreate it?

#2 annachan

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 03:59 PM

I love soy sauce noodle! With a bowl of plain porridge, it's great anytime of the day! I have to say that I never tried to make this at home as I could get that at many places in Hong Kong and in San Francisco. Now I'm in Australia and nowhere near a large Chinese population, I should learn how to make it. Other than beansprouts, I have seen versions with green onion or chinese chives in them. Some places use onion but I don't like that. I don't mind a sprinkling of toasted sesames on top though.

I'm hoping someone here has a good recipe as I can't wait to try it out myself.

#3 Fred12fred

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 04:57 PM

Been googling everything I can think of and have come up pretty empty.

This looked promising but link they provided doesn't go anywhere helpful...but it looks like just soy plus sugar(?) and beansprouts...



The only other thing I've seen is this post which seems like a variant of the dish.

http://tastesofhome....-udon-with.html

Interestingly, he mentions using mushroom soy sauce instead of regular.

Does this sound right? I've never had the dish so I have no basis for making a judgment on that.

This might drive me to complete distraction. :hmmm:

#4 annachan

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 05:14 PM

I'm not surprised that sugar may be used. I tend to use a little of that it stir fry dishes to balance out the soy sauce. I also tend to mix regular and dark soy (or mushroom soy) when frying up noodles. The regular soy gives it the salt and the dark/mushroom soy gives it a nice thickness.

#5 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 05:47 PM

When I make these, I blast the wok and do the following:

-- cook the bean sprouts without oil very quickly, maybe 30s, then dump into a bowl;

-- squirt in a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil or chicken fat and then dump in some sliced onion, cooking them quickly until they're slightly browned on the edges, and remove to the same bowl (I'll often add the green part of scallions here, too);

-- squirt in a bit more oil if needed, and then throw in the egg noodles. You want them to pick up a little bit of color but not burn; this takes serious attention. When you've gotten the wok hei you want, add the vegetables back in and squirt in some dark soy sauce.

You can tweak with sugar, red chili pepper, greens, even meat or fish, but that's the basic approach. The key is getting the wok uber-hot so that you get that wok hei on the noodles. It's not worth trying to accomplish if you don't have a source of very high heat and a seasoned wok (in my opinion).

Let us know how it goes!
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#6 heidih

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 06:03 PM

Sounds like comfort food. I wonder if katsup manis would get you some of the richness and thickness barring the availability of the super hot pan.

#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 06:18 PM

Kecap manis is a great condiment, especially if you have some chili and bitter greens in there.
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#8 Ben Hong

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 08:26 PM

This dish is nothing more than meatless lo mein.

#9 heidih

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 08:43 PM

This dish is nothing more than meatless lo mein.


And how do you prepare yours?

#10 CFT

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 04:16 AM

Isn't it just 銀絲炒麵 (Silver thread stir fried noodles). The silver threads being the beansprouts.
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#11 Fred12fred

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 12:11 PM

Thanks for all the comments.

Ben: To me, lo mein is more saucy than what I imagine this dish to be. But, then again, my experience with lo mein comes from the 1980's chop suey era Chinese restaurants... :raz:

CFT: I tried googling silver thread noodles but didn't find a recipe, but I can see that it could very well be the same dish.

heidih: kecap manis would be good in something like this. I'm filing that away as something to try. Thanks!

Chris: Thanks for your summary of how you do things. I am going to follow your "recipe" tonight. I got my mushroom soy sauce and beansprouts all set!

#12 weinoo

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:02 PM

The show was (I'm 99% sure) Zimmern's. He was hanging in the kitchen of a place in Hong Kong. One of the keys was the soaking of the noodles before cooking - that seemed to be important. They then went on to say someone needs to work there for 2 years before they can cook the noodles.

And the noodles were cooked using chopsticks as the utensil - not a wok ladle or spatula. That was the way they made sure that all the noodles were exposed to the wok and the sauce.
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#13 baobabs

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 11:31 PM

my mother's recipe for these noodles (improvised singaporean style) is soy sauce, sesame oil, fried shallots and then throwing in bits of deep fried pork lard to the mix for flavours. dash of vinegar,sugar, ketchup optional and then mix the blanched egg noodles and bean sprouts with the sauce

#14 dcarch

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 05:47 AM

There is no recipes for soy sauce noodles.

Just like there is no recipe for fried rice.

Anything goes.

I do a soy sauce Ramen noodles with EVOO, light soy sauce, and parmesan cheese top.

dcarch

#15 weinoo

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 07:32 AM

There is no recipes for soy sauce noodles.

Just like there is no recipe for fried rice.

Anything goes.

I do a soy sauce Ramen noodles with EVOO, light soy sauce, and parmesan cheese top.

dcarch

With all due respect, your recipe would not necessarily fly in Hong Kong :wink: .
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#16 dcarch

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 08:23 AM


There is no recipes for soy sauce noodles.

Just like there is no recipe for fried rice.

Anything goes.

I do a soy sauce Ramen noodles with EVOO, light soy sauce, and parmesan cheese top.

dcarch

With all due respect, your recipe would not necessarily fly in Hong Kong :wink: .

LOL!
You have not tried my Spam fried rice yet.

dcarch

#17 hzrt8w

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 11:11 AM

You have not tried my Spam fried rice yet.


Actually Spam - the Chinese version of it called "lunch meat" - is quite popular in Hong Kong. We use Spam in sandwiches with eggs, baked bao with eggs, ramen noodles with eggs. While it may not be on the menu, I am sure you can order Spam fried rice in Hong Kong.
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#18 Ben Hong

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 01:25 PM


This dish is nothing more than meatless lo mein.


And how do you prepare yours?


Heidih, "lo mein" means mixed noodles, which in all its permutations and interpretations is akin to the generic "fried rice" ie: there is no set recipe. Reduced to its basic connotations, it means stir fried noodles to me (and most people). But, there is always a "but" in any argument, interpretations can trump the standard orthodoxy of what we normally assume is the "correct" form and format.

Like this: the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein". Most native bred Japanese cannot produce the "L" sound, just as most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound. We all know of the various guises and forms that the humble "ramen" can assume.

To answer your question, I would have to reply: "Whatever ingredients I have on hand would determine how I cook my meatless lo mein, or soy sauce noodles. Or, better still whatever my wife feels like having - dry-ish, moist, wet, or crisp.

I hope that I have answered your question.

Edited by Ben Hong, 01 April 2011 - 01:28 PM.


#19 dcarch

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 01:31 PM

"---- Most native bred Japanese cannot produce the "L" sound, just as most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound. We all know of the various guises and forms that the humble "ramen" can assume.
--"

So my Spam fried rice would be Spam fried lice?

dcarch :-)

#20 Fred12fred

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 02:19 PM

Last night, I took a stab at cooking this dish.

I don't have a 8,000,000 BTU stove, and I knew going into it that this would be the key issue, but I've had some success in getting that great smokyness that you would get from a wok by using a cast iron pan, so I wasn't too concerned.

So, I got all set by opening all the windows that I could, turning on the fan, and, most importantly, disconnecting the smoke alarm! I put my pan on the stove and got it blazing hot.

I kept it really simple, just noodles, bean sprouts, mushroom soy and brown sugar.

My wife declared it: "Tasty and good...but...not what I remembered" Which is about what I expected.

Now the trick will be for me to somehow turn this into a trip to Hong Kong to get the real thing... :laugh:

My personal post-mortem is that I think I fried the noodles a bit too much as they turned pretty crispy. I would prefer noodles that had some crunchy bits but still had a softness to them. Also, I think the austerity of just using soy is a bit too bland for me. I'll probably throw in some scallions and garlic if I try this again.

Thanks again for everyone's input! That's what I love about eGullet. :wub:

#21 annachan

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 03:57 PM


You have not tried my Spam fried rice yet.


Actually Spam - the Chinese version of it called "lunch meat" - is quite popular in Hong Kong. We use Spam in sandwiches with eggs, baked bao with eggs, ramen noodles with eggs. While it may not be on the menu, I am sure you can order Spam fried rice in Hong Kong.


It's a very popular topping for ramen and macaroni in soup as well. And you can always get luncheon meat and fried eggs for breakfast. I kinda remember that we slice and dip the luncheon meat and fried them up in a pan at home when I was growing up in Hong Kong.

#22 annachan

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 04:05 PM

I kept it really simple, just noodles, bean sprouts, mushroom soy and brown sugar.

....

My personal post-mortem is that I think I fried the noodles a bit too much as they turned pretty crispy. I would prefer noodles that had some crunchy bits but still had a softness to them. Also, I think the austerity of just using soy is a bit too bland for me. I'll probably throw in some scallions and garlic if I try this again.


I wouldn't use brown sugar as it isn't a popular ingredient in Hong Kong. I would try the recipe with just white sugar. Also, maybe use a mix of dark and light soy. I find the combination gives the food a more complex flavor than get using one.

Charred bits of noodles - yes! Crunchy noodle - no!

#23 NancyH

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 04:09 PM

"It's a very popular topping for ramen and macaroni in soup as well. And you can always get luncheon meat and fried eggs for breakfast. I kinda remember that we slice and dip the luncheon meat and fried them up in a pan at home when I was growing up in Hong Kong."


What do you dip the Spam in before you fry it? Egg?
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#24 liuzhou

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 05:45 PM

most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound


No they don't. Some Cantonese speakers do. There is an [r] sound in Mandarin. I've been living in China for 15 years and have met only one or two people who couldn't say [r].

the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein"


No. It's much more likely to be a 'corruption' of "la mian" (拉面), something quite different.

Edited by liuzhou, 01 April 2011 - 05:47 PM.


#25 annachan

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 06:08 PM

What do you dip the Spam in before you fry it? Egg?


Yes, egg. Sorry, didn't realize that was left out. :raz:

#26 hzrt8w

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 07:24 PM

Like this: the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein". Most native bred Japanese cannot produce the "L" sound, just as most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound. We all know of the various guises and forms that the humble "ramen" can assume.


I beg to differ from this view and I agree with Liuzhou. Ramen is from the northern Chinese' "la mein", or pulled noodles.

"Lo mein" has a Cantonese origin I believe. The word "Lo" could have two interpretations in Cantonese.
1) The motion of scooping (scooping the noodles from boiling water).
2) The action of mixing - stirring the noodles with some kind of seasoning.

In Hong Kong, if you order a dish of "lo mein" you will be served a dish of boiled, al dente, thin egg noodles with oyster sauce poured on top. In the Chinese communities in the USA (I would imagine other diaspora places as well), "lo mein" had turned into frying noodles with dark heavy soy sauce. More like the Shanghainese style thick fried noodles.

When I was in elementary school in Hong Kong, (late 60's), soy sauce chow mein was an item served by street vendors on a 4-wheel cart with a giant wok. Plain meatless. Onions. Green onions. Dark heavy soy sauce, high heat... and of course, pork fat. LOL It's the commoners' food. Now they serve this item on a silver platter in high end dim-sum restaurants and charge you 10X the price. LOL :laugh:
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#27 Ben Hong

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Posted 01 April 2011 - 10:00 PM

most native Chinese speakers have trouble with the "R" sound


No they don't. Some Cantonese speakers do. There is an [r] sound in Mandarin. I've been living in China for 15 years and have met only one or two people who couldn't say [r].

the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein"


No. It's much more likely to be a 'corruption' of "la mian" (拉面), something quite different.



Speaking as a Toyshanese speaking almost 70 year old "loh wah kieu", I have fallen into that group's mindset that anyone who doesn't speak Toyshanese (or at least Cantonese) really isn't speaking Chinese at all!! :raz: :laugh:

As for the la mian vs lo mein topic, I will stick by my original explanation, as it was explained to me by one of my learned Japanese diplomat colleagues. If he was wrong then I am wrong, but what the hey, I prefer his side of things. But I like your certitude in correcting me. Me, I like to be a little more circumspect - the result of years training and working in a profession that deals in things which are much more nebulous and nuanced than some internet bulletin board .

Edited by Ben Hong, 01 April 2011 - 10:09 PM.


#28 Ben Hong

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 08:26 AM

I beg to differ from this view and I agree with Liuzhou. Ramen is from the northern Chinese' "la mein", or pulled noodles.


You and liuzhou may disagree all you want, that is your prerogative. I always forget to use it, but let wikipedia be your friend: enter ramen, scroll down to the "history" chapter and it's there in black and white, second last sentence of the paragraph.

In this case we are all correct in our own way, but maybe, just maybe, you should be more certain before you call an old geezer out.

I suppose an apology from either of you would be out of the question.

#29 liuzhou

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 10:11 AM

I'm not in the slightest bit apologetic for what I wrote.

Don't cite wikipedia at me. Any passing troll can edit it. But, at the moment, it does list your theory as the fourth most likely etymology and my suggestion as the first. In ten minutes it might say Lady Gaga invented it.

I tend to trust things like the Oxford English Dictionary a bit more. It says that Ramen is "prob. f. Chinese lā pull, stretch, lengthen + miàn noodle." History would also suggest the same. At the time of the Japanese adoption of the term it was much more in contact with northern China. "Lo mein" is Cantonese and the Japanese were, at that time, much less in contact.

Also for the record, while you may like my certitude, you might like to note my use of the word "probably" which suggests a lack of certitude as opposed to your "in fact".

But what I really don't understand is what you are getting so upset, defensive and aggressive about.

It's only noodles!

Can we get back to talking about food, please.

Edited by liuzhou, 02 April 2011 - 10:52 AM.


#30 hzrt8w

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 10:25 AM

Uncle Ben Hong:

You said in such an authoritative tone that: the Japanese term "ramen" is in fact the corruption of the Chinese term "lo mein". I only begged to differ from your view.

I am sorry that you felt my post as calling someone out. It certainly was not my intent.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"





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