Jump to content
  • 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 a free account.

Making Hand-Pulled Noodles


Soup
 Share

Recommended Posts

Here are more pics of noodle making in action and other items we ate at Noodle Loft for Fengyi.

This doesn't look like noodles but it is - Fengyi, do you know what it's called?

gallery_3270_6109_2349.jpg

The texture of this was wonderfully chewy but sauce we chose a tad salty, especialy since we dumped the whole bowl on

gallery_3270_6109_49182.jpg

Knife-cut noodles with beef brisket

gallery_3270_6109_30415.jpg

Sorghum dumplings stuffed with preserved vegetable (xian chai/harm choy)

gallery_3270_6109_31988.jpg

My friends whom I stayed with were hankering for a taste of home so we had some 'roti canai' substitute :raz:

gallery_3270_6109_28978.jpg

Sorghum dumpling chef in action

gallery_3270_6109_26601.jpg

Making knife-cut noodles - he was so fast I just couldn't capture the noodles flying in the air in any of the many, many pictures I took

gallery_3270_6109_35758.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_52935.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_15388.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_16964.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_8793.jpg

gallery_3270_6109_37274.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those noodles in the pictures from Noodle Loft looked like empty "4-happiness shao mai" to me. That was my first thought. There is no filling? Are they just the noodles formed in a special way? Why?

My fond memories of hand cut noodles (Dao Mian 刀面) are from a 'food street' in Beijing near the UIBE. The chef stood near the street and his pot of boiling water. Some of the noodles fell onto the sidewalk, most hit the pot. I have to say that those were the best noodles and the best broth I can remember. I have had 'dow mian' since, but none can compare to those in my memory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

The texture of this was wonderfully chewy but sauce we chose a tad salty, especialy since we dumped the whole bowl on

gallery_3270_6109_49182.jpg

What's the name of these noodles? Where do they get their green? And oh yes, they DO look chewy -just the way I like my noodles.

Thanks for the informative photos btw.

Musings and Morsels - a film and food blog

http://musingsandmorsels.weebly.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi! Those aren't 'noodles' that's one LONG noodle. Just one... It's usually green from spinach/spinach-like green.

Very cool to watch them doing it. BTW, if you're ever in Beijing - there's a lovely private Kitchen, Black Sesame which will give you noodle pulling lessons. The chef there used to work in a noodle shop - he's very nice!

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey folks --

I've been wanting to try this, and found a fantastic set of step-by-step videos on how to hand-pull noodles...

Here are links to two videos, and the guy's website with descriptions, recipes, FAQ's, etc,

(Part 1 -- kneading dough)

(Part 2 -- pulling dough)

http://www.lukerymarz.com/noodles/index.html

Emily

Edited by Emily_R (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

A bit of info re tube noodles posted on message #47 by shewie. A bit late hope you find this useful.

These tubular noodles or pasta is a speciality of Shanxi, normally eaten with a spicy dipping sauce and lamb stew.

There are two names all the same referring to the same noodles.

莜面窝窝 you mein war war

莜面拷栳栳 you mein kao lao lao

Here are the definitions:

莜面 (you mein) is flour/noodles made with a type of oat called avena nuda or naked oat, This flour has a greyish colour. I have never seen it in the far east, UK or LA. I think you can only get this in China.

窝窝 (war war) refers to the honeycombed shape

拷栳栳 (kao lao lao) this is a local dialet, not many people really sure what this means. Some said 拷栳 was a farmer's tool and others said 拷栳栳 refers to a tubular colander.

Here is a video how to shape this noodles http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDc0MDg5MjA=.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Replying to Mark's query upthread, "how many food use geometric progression?" shall mention one more, using exactly the same principle as hand-pulling noodles seen in Chinatown, Manhattan. This is done for sugar candy and accomplished quite rapidly within the space of a handsbreath, on a tiny trestle table set up as a vending stall.

Makes one wonder if this might not be an alternative [preliminary] path to learning the noodle technique, less messy and strenuous, very little space required?

Could anyone provide the Chinese name for this candy and more details of this process, i.e. how to make the sugar fondant base etc.?

An Indian sweet, sohan papri, made from malted wheat and semi-caramelized sugar and ghee, plus a LOT of muscle power also is pulled in the manner of noodles , but especially like the Chinese candy into very fine 'hairs', the finer denoting higher quality. These are folded over and cut into cubes. Nowadays, Haldiram's sells an acceptable tinned brand in the US. The US made fresh types are still nowhere as satisfactory as the canned Indian ones!!

I think it korean it is called the kings candy or Dragon's beard candy. Here is a video on making the "beard".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

A few thoughts:

1) You want a pretty stiff dough. For most kinds of handmade noodles, but especially for hand-pulled noodles, I think you want an alkaline solution to give the noodles some "stretch", as well as a chewier consistency. Some of the recipes on youtube may not mention this, but I really think that this is likely to be important. Mugwort ash (penghui) is one traditional way to provide this, but the most commonly available solution will probably be jianshui (kansui in Japanese); the bottle will probably say "Lye Water", and will be either potassium carbonate (possibly buffered with sodium bicarbonate), or sodium hydroxide. If you can't find it locally, you can probably order some online, or you could try mixing food grade lye with water. With a recent batch of noodles (we didn't pull them; just cut them), we used about 1 tsp of lye water for ~ 2 C flour; I think you'd want to use a bit more than that. I have made pretty stiff doughs in our Kitchen Aid (a lift-up Pro 600); however, my wife usually kneads noodle dough by hand. You don't actually need to knead it as long as you would for, say, bread. I've heard of adding in the "lye water" after kneading, but most recipes suggest just mixing it with the water used for noodle making. Even if it doesn't help with pulling, the alkaline solution will make the taste and texture better.

You could try 2:1 flour:warm water as a starting point, or even slightly stiffer than that, (with a tsp or two of salt and a tsp or two of lye water).

2) Rest the dough in the fridge for some time before pulling. At least half an hour, but ideally 2-3 hours.

3) I think this video shows the pulling method pretty well. It's in Mandarin, but most of the process is easy to understand just from watching the video.

I believe the alkaline solution in this is borax or some other powdered product.

Personally, I'd suggest rolling out the dough and making hand cut noodles first. These will also taste good, and will be a lot easier to make. We haven't tried making pulled noodles at home, though I'd like to experiment with it sometime.

I think flours with hard wheat are preferred; I've seen different recommendations as to whether you should use pastry / cake flour or higher gluten bread flour, but it makes sense to me that there should probably be at least some bread flour in the mix.

Edited by Will (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are many videos and recipes out there. I have not seen recipes that really worked, including in the first video. Notice that he cannot pull the noodles as fine as in the typical Chinese pulled noodles with his recipe.

I don't remember anyone here has done it.

I don't remember having seen anyone done it successfully in other food forums.

I have tried many different ways, I have yet to be able to pull very thin noodles.

dcarch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are many videos and recipes out there. I have not seen recipes that really worked, including in the first video. Notice that he cannot pull the noodles as fine as in the typical Chinese pulled noodles with his recipe.

I don't remember anyone here has done it.

I don't remember having seen anyone done it successfully in other food forums.

I have tried many different ways, I have yet to be able to pull very thin noodles.

I think it has more to do with practice and "know-how" vs. recipes. The basic dough / method is very simple, and even taking different types of flour into account, isn't that complicated. Most of the folks pulling noodles in restaurants (and even some home cooks) do it often enough to get it down, and they make it look easy in the videos because they've had a lot of experience and / or an apprenticeship. So, especially without the benefit of hands-on training, it's going to take quite a bit of practice and experimentation before you can successfully pull it off at home.

As mentioned before, I definitely don't claim to be able to hand-pull noodles, but I don't think it's out of the reach of someone who has the patience / determination. However, quite good results can be had by making hand-rolled noodles (shou gan mian; 手擀面).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"----As mentioned before, I definitely don't claim to be able to hand-pull noodles, but I don't think it's out of the reach of someone who has the patience / determination. ---"

I am not talking about the skills involved, which I can understand the need to practice. I am talking about the dough recipe. The many dough recipes I have tried, they were not strechy enough to make one single long noodle. They always break.

I see the making of pulled noodles mostly just for fun and showmanship, not about taste, much like making pizza, it's a lot of fun if you can throw/spin a good size pie.

Otherwise I can use my two pasta makers.

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've spent quite some time trying to make these noodles (see my avatar) without great success. I am now convinced that the way the dough is kneaded maters a lot. I was told by many that the gluten network in your dough need to be aligned and that the dough had to rest just long enough to allow for proper hand stretching.

Good luck and please report back!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have tried Chef Tomm's recipe and it didn't work for me. If you look at his video, you will see that his noodles break early on, and they are quite varied in size.

I tried using the recipe from the young man in Emily_R's post, too, and that didn't work. I've tried kneading the noodles in the KA and by hand. I am wondering if the key is a special Chinese low gluten flour. I wish I could find my notes on this. I remember being frustrated by not being able to find the right flour. I also couldn't find the right basic (pH) ingredient because I couldn't translate it from a video I found. I went home with my tail between my legs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have tried Chef Tomm's recipe and it didn't work for me. If you look at his video, you will see that his noodles break early on, and they are quite varied in size.

I tried using the recipe from the young man in Emily_R's post, too, and that didn't work. I've tried kneading the noodles in the KA and by hand. I am wondering if the key is a special Chinese low gluten flour. I wish I could find my notes on this. I remember being frustrated by not being able to find the right flour. I also couldn't find the right basic (pH) ingredient because I couldn't translate it from a video I found. I went home with my tail between my legs.

Exactly. Very different feel of the dough if you watch the Chinese demonstrations of pulling noodles. Their dough will not break even the noodles are pulled Angel-Hair thin.

dcarch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And my noodles were always sticking together, even when adding quite a bit more flour than originally given. I don't care as much for them to be angel-hair thin. I actually like the chunkiness of some of the others, like you might get at Xian Famous Foods.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And my noodles were always sticking together, even when adding quite a bit more flour than originally given. I don't care as much for them to be angel-hair thin. I actually like the chunkiness of some of the others, like you might get at Xian Famous Foods.

I've never been to Xi'An Famous Foods, nor do I know which style of noodles from there you're trying to make, but I have been to a Shaanxi (i.e., 陕西, not 山西) place here in California. I believe the "hand-torn" or "hand-ripped" or "belt" noodles are made differently from normal pulled noodles, so you may want to look around for a description of how to make this style if that's the style you're going for. Notice how these are actually stretched one at a time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bi%C3%A1ngbi%C3%A1ng_noodles

(it's about 2:50 in; the embedded link doesn't seem to start at the right time)

Keep in mind also that the 'liang pi' (the chewy noodles served with sesame sauce and chili oil) at Shaanxi places are not pulled at all, and in many cases aren't even made with wheat flour. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liang_pi

This explains some of the other considerations, and discusses how some types of noodles use an alkaline additive and others don't (Shaanxi noodles do):

http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2011/05/art-of-hand-pulled-noodles-noodle.html

As they explain, the exact "twirling" time may depend on the weather and humidity, and it's this type of thing that takes a while to develop a sense for - just as with making bread. I can give you the perfect bread or noodle recipe, but it's insane to imagine that you will get the same results as someone experienced, even if you have the same raw ingredients and the same method. If you see a novice trying to pull noodles even with properly made dough, they will probably have problems with noodles breaking or not stretching properly (as seen in the video linked to at tinyurbankitchen.com, as well as in the Chinese TV video above). So while the dough and flour are important, I believe that the experience handling the dough, as well as the experience needed to make small adjustments as needed, are the most important things.

One of the big things to take away from this, and other demos, is that the first round of twirling the entire batch of dough is part of the kneading process, and not the noodle pulling itself. Some of the demos don't show this part. After you do that part, you then break off a little piece and begin pulling noodles from that.

Edited by Will (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The one thing about the years of practice is that not only do you get the hang of the actual pulling, but you can ''feel'' the dough. Your hands can sense when the dough is right for pulling and then how much flour is needed when you are pulling.

One time in China, I watched a chef make them and just as the whole process was coming to an end, one of the noodles broke. He was so upset, that he put it all down and started over again -- successfuly. And happily!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
      It is a dish of rice noodles served in a very spicy stock made from the local river snails and pig bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. Various pickled vegetables, dried tofu skin, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and loads of chilli are then usually added. Few restaurants ever reveal their precise recipe, so this is tentative. Luosifen is only really eaten in small restaurants and roadside stalls. I've never heard of anyone making it at home.
       
      In order to promote tourism to the city, the local government organised a food festival featuring an event named "10,000 people eat luosifen together." (In Chinese 10,000 often just means "many".)
       
      10,000 people (or a lot of people anyway) gathered at Liuzhou International Convention and Exhibition Centre for the grand Liuzhou luosifen eat-in. Well, they gathered in front of the centre – the actual centre is a bleak, unfinished, deserted shell of a building. I disguised myself as a noodle and joined them. 10,001.
       

       
      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
    • By liuzhou
      Chinese food must be among the most famous in the world. Yet, at the same time, the most misunderstood.

      I feel sure (hope) that most people here know that American-Chinese cuisine, British-Chinese cuisine, Indian-Chinese cuisine etc are, in huge ways, very different from Chinese-Chinese cuisine and each other. That's not what I want to discuss.

      Yet, every day I still come across utter nonsense on YouTube videos and Facebook about the "real" Chinese cuisine, even from ethnically Chinese people (who have often never been in China). Sorry YouTube "influencers", but sprinkling soy sauce or 5-spice powder on your cornflakes does not make them Chinese!
       
      So what is the "authentic" Chinese food? Well, like any question about China, there are several answers. It is not surprising that a country larger than western Europe should have more than one typical culinary style. Then, we must distinguish between what you may be served in a large hotel dining room, a small local restaurant, a street market stall or in a Chinese family's home.

      That said, in this topic, I want to attempt to debunk some of the more prevalent myths. Not trying to start World War III.

      When I moved to China from the UK 25 years ago, I had my preconceptions. They were all wrong. Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was reported to be the second favourite dish in Britain, and had, of course, to be preceded by a plate of prawn/shrimp crackers. All washed down with a lager or three.

      Yet, in that quarter of a century, I've seldom seen a prawn cracker. And egg fried rice is usually eaten as a quick dish on its own, not usually as an accompaniment to main courses. Every menu featured a starter of prawn/shrimp toast which I have never seen in mainland China - just once in Hong Kong.

      But first, one myth needs to be dispelled. The starving Chinese! When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up. My suggestion that we could post it to them never went down too well. At that time (the late fifties) there was indeed a terrible famine in China (almost entirely manmade (Maomade)).

      When I first arrived in China, it was after having lived in Soviet Russia and I expected to see the same long lines of people queuing up to buy nothing very much in particular. Instead, on my first visit to a market (in Hunan Province), I was confronted with a wider range of vegetables, seafood, meat and assorted unidentified frying objects than I have ever seen anywhere else. And it was so cheap I couldn't convert to UK pounds or any other useful currency.
       
      I'm going to start with some of the simpler issues - later it may get ugly!

      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.
       

       
      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
       
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      Your wish is my command! Sometimes! A lot of what I say here, I will have already said in scattered topics across the forums, but I guess it's useful to bring it all into one place.
       
      First, I want to say that China uses literally thousands of herbs. But not in their food. Most herbs are used medicinally in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), often in their dried form. Some of the more common are sold in supermarkets, but more often in pharmacies or small specialist stores. I also often see people on the streets with baskets of unidentified greenery for sale - but not for dinner. The same applies to spices, although more spices are used in a culinary setting than are herbs.
       
      I’ll start with Sichuan peppercorns as these are what prompted @Tropicalsenior to suggest the topic.
       
      1. Sichuan Peppercorns
       
      Sichuan peppercorns are neither pepper nor, thank the heavens, c@rn! Nor are they necessarily from Sichuan. They are actually the seed husks of one of a number of small trees in the genus Zanthoxylum and are related to the citrus family.  The ‘Sichuan’ name in English comes from their copious use in Sichuan cuisine, but not necessarily where they are grown. Known in Chinese as 花椒 (huājiāo), literally ‘flower pepper’’, they are also known as ‘prickly ash’ and, less often, as ‘rattan pepper’.
      The most common variety used in China is 红花椒 (hóng huā jiāo) or red Sichuan peppercorn, but often these are from provinces other than Sichuan, especially Gansu, Sichuan’s northern neighbour. They are sold all over China and, ground, are a key ingredient in “five-spice powder” mixes. They are essential in many Sichuan dishes where they contribute their numbing effect to Sichuan’s 麻辣 (má là), so-called ‘hot and numbing’ flavour. Actually the Chinese is ‘numbing and hot’. I’ve no idea why the order is reversed in translation, but it happens a lot – ‘hot and sour’ is actually ‘sour and hot’ in Chinese!
       
      The peppercorns are essential in dishes such as 麻婆豆腐 (má pó dòu fǔ) mapo tofu, 宫保鸡丁 (gōng bǎo jī dīng) Kung-po chicken, etc. They are also used in other Chinese regional cuisines, such as Hunan and Guizhou cuisines.

      Red Sichuan peppercorns can come from a number of Zanthoxylum varieties including Zanthoxylum simulans, Zanthoxylum bungeanum, Zanthoxylum schinifolium, etc.
       

      Red Sichuan Peppercorns
       
      Another, less common, variety is 青花椒 (qīng huā jiāo) green Sichuan peppercorn, Zanthoxylum armatum. These are also known as 藤椒 (téng jiāo). This grows all over Asia, from Pakistan to Japan and down to the countries of SE Asia. This variety is significantly more floral in taste and, at its freshest, smells strongly of lime peel. These are often used with fish, rabbit, frog etc. Unlike red peppercorns (usually), the green variety are often used in their un-dried state, but not often outside Sichuan.
       

      Green Sichuan Peppercorns
       

      Fresh Green Sichuan Peppercorns

      I strongly recommend NOT buying Sichuan peppercorns in supermarkets outside China. They lose their scent, flavour and numbing quality very rapidly. There are much better examples available on sale online. I have heard good things about The Mala Market in the USA, for example.

      I buy mine in small 30 gram / 1oz bags from a high turnover vendor. And that might last me a week. It’s better for me to restock regularly than to use stale peppercorns.

      Both red and green peppercorns are used in the preparation of flavouring oils, often labelled in English as 'Prickly Ash Oil'. 花椒油 (huā jiāo yóu) or 藤椒油 (téng jiāo yóu).
       

       
      The tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
       
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
    • By liuzhou
      An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here.

      This is what available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. I'll update as the year goes by.
       
      FRESH FUNGI
       
      December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in.
       

       
      The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots.
       

       
      Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so.
       

       
      The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties.
       
      Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots.
       

       
      凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying.
       

       
      Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews.
       

       
      One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety which is sometimes called 白玉 菇 bái yù gū.
       

       

       
      Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots.
       

       

       
      Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried.
       

       
      Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name.
       

       
      Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here.
       

       
      Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū, Infundibulicybe gibba. These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find.
       

       
      And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now.
       

       
      Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist.
       
      Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...