Noodles are an essential ingredient and staple in Chinese cuisine. From Sichuan Dandan Noodle to Lamian (hand-pulled noodles), and Chow Mein, there is a great variety of Chinese noodles. They vary according to their region of production, ingredients, shape or width, and manner of preparation.
Chinese noodles are generally made from wheat flour, rice flour, or mung bean starch, with wheat noodles being more commonly produced and consumed in northern China and rice noodles being more typical of southern China. Egg, lye, and cereal may also be added to noodles made from wheat flour in order to give the noodles a different color or flavor.
Noodles may be cooked from either their fresh or dry forms. They are generally boiled, although they may also be deep-fried in oil. Boiled noodles may then be stir fried, served with sauce or other accompaniments, or served in soup, often with meat and other ingredients. Certain rice-noodles are made directly from steaming the raw rice slurry and are only consumed fresh.
Here are three kinds of Chinese noodle you can’t miss in your China trip.
Beijing: Noodle with Soybean Paste
Noodle with Soybean Paste (called Zhajiangmian in Chinese) is a traditional Beijing cuisine with quite a long history. To cook Zhajiangmian, Beijinger uses hand-made and hand-pulled noodles mixed with fried soybean paste and some cucumber slices, summer radish slices and soybean sprouts. Two pieces of garlic added can make the noodles savory. Noodles with sesame sauce have a distinctive flavor, and definitely you could have a bowl of Zhajiangmian without giving a second thought.
Xi’an: Biangbiang noodles
Biangbiang noodle is another must-try of Xi’an. Biangbiang noodles are thick, wide and long. Each belt-like strand is three-finger wide, spiraling down into a big bowl. The interesting thing is even for Chinese it is one of the strangest foods, and all you need to do to know why is to take a look at its name in Chinese characters. Most Chinese would not even know how to write the 57-stroke character for "biang" which has so many turns that it actually looks like a hieroglyphic on paper. The strange character was created a long time ago, it has been passed down and nobody use it anymore, let alone on the keyboards of a computer.
Chengdu: Dandan noodles
Dandan noodles or Dandanmian is one of those quintessential Sichuan dishes that you must try at least once if you're a fan of anything spicy. The name refers to a type of carrying pole (dan dan) that was used by walking street vendors who sold the dish to passers-by. It consists of a spicy sauce containing preserved vegetables, chili oil, Sichuan pepper, minced pork, and scallions served over noodles. You can find Dandan Noodles at almost all Sichuan restaurants. Some people have it as an appetizer; others have it during the meal instead of rice.