• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Fred12fred

Soy sauce noodles?

33 posts in this topic

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"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious, and I am not taking sides because I am not an expert in these matters:

I used Google Translate,

English to Chinese, Ramen = 拉麵

Ramen to japenese = ラーメン

Japanese to Chinese= ラーメン = 拉麵

I am an expert, however, in saying that soy sauce noodles taste very good. :-)

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha Ha! Google Translate and any similar sites are responsible for most of the nonsensical Chingish and Japlish we have to suffer every day. It is pretty much useless as a translation tool.

I suggest you take one of your favorite songs. Translate the lyrics to Chinese or Japanese or any other language, then translate back to English and see what nonsense you come up with.

Now can we talk about food, please?


Edited by liuzhou (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

-----------------

I suggest you take one of your favorite songs. Translate the lyrics to Chinese or Japanese or any other language, then translate back to English and see what nonsense you come up with.

-------------

I know what you are talking about.

and to get back to food:

I understand that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" translates to "The wine is pretty good, but the meat is lousy" in some language. LOL!

dcarch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      I was recently asked by a friend to give a talk to a group of around 30 first-year students in a local college - all girls. The students were allowed to present me with a range of topics to choose from. To my joy, No. 1 was food! They wanted to know what is different between western and Chinese food. Big topic!
       
      Anyway I did my best to explain, illustrate etc. I even gave each student a home made Scotch egg! Which amused them immensely.

      Later, my friend asked each of them to write out (in English) a recipe for their favourite Chinese dish. She has passed these on to me with permission to use them as I wish. I will post a few of the better / more interesting ones over the next few days.

      I have not edited their language, so please be tolerant and remember that for many of these students, English is their third or fourth language. Chinese isn't even their first!

      I have obscured some personal details.

      First up:

      Tomato, egg noodles.

      Time: 10 minutes
       
      Yield: 1 serving

      For the noodle:

      1 tomato
      2 egg
      5 spring onions

      For the sauce:
       
      1 teaspoon sesame oil
      1 tablespoon sugar
      ½ teaspoon salt

      Method:

      1. The pot boil water. At that same time you can do something else.

      2. Diced tomato. Egg into the bowl. add salt and sugar mixed. Onion cut section.

      3. Boiled noodles with water and cook for about 5 minutes.

      4. Heat wok put oil, add eggs, stir fry until cooked. Another pot, garlic stir fry the tomato.

      5. add some water to boil, add salt, soy sauce, add egg
       
      6. The tomato and egg sauce over noodle, spring onion sprinkled even better.
       


      More soon.
    • By zend
      I just bought these greens from the neighborhood Asian grocery. Had them once in China as a salad, and they tasted exceptional - a bit peppery like arugula, yet much more subtle and fresh, with hints of lemon.
      Store lady (non-Chinese) could not name them for me other than "Chinese greens".
      Any help identifying them is greatly appreciated
       

    • By liuzhou
      China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50%
       
      I wish them well, but can't see it happening. Meat eating is very much seen as a status symbol and, although most Chinese still follow a largely vegetable diet out of economic necessity, meat is still highly desirable among the new middle classes. The chances of them willingly giving it up, even by 50%, seems remote to me.
    • By JohnT
      I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
    • By chefmd
      My son married a lovely young lady from Yakeshi, Inner Mongolia, China.   Mongolian: ᠶᠠᠠᠠᠰᠢ ᠬᠣᠲᠠ (Ягши хот); Chinese: 牙克石; pinyin: Yákèshí
       
      We had a wedding in the US but her family also wanted to have a traditional wedding in China.  DH and I have never being to China so this was an exciting opportunity for us!  We spent a few days in Beijing doing touristy stuff and then flew to Hailar.  There is only one flight a day on Air China that we took at 6 in the morning.  Yakeshi is about an hour drive from Hailar on a beautiful toll road with no cars on it.  I wish we took pictures of free roaming sheep and cows along the way.  The original free range meat.
       
      The family met us at the airport.  We were greeted with a shot of a traditional Chinese spirit from a traditional leather vessel.  Nothing says welcome like a stiff drink at 9 AM.  We were supposed to have a three shots (may be they were joking) but family took pity on us and limited it to one only.
       

       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.