【Learn Chinese】Types of Chinese Noodles You Must Try (Part 1)
|The Chinese have been enjoying noodles for around 2,000 years, ever since the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Many experts believe that pasta actually has its origins in noodles and that it was brought to Italy by Marco Polo when he returned from China.
Just like the Italians with pasta there are numerous different types, shapes, flavours, lengths etc. However, in terms of what noodles are made from there are three main types of Chinese noodles: Wheat noodles (these can be made with or without egg), rice noodles and starch noodles.
But what about different noodle dishes?
Lanzhou Beef Noodles
As you might have guessed from the name these famous noodles hail from Lanzhou in Gansu Province. These noodles are also known as Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles and their name in Chinese is 兰州牛肉拉面 lánzhōu niúròu lāmiàn (also sometimes shortened to 兰州拉面 lánzhōu lāmiàn).
拉面 lāmiàn refers to the hand pulling technique which is used to make the noodles. It is not only the Lanzhou variety of noodles that use this technique, with other famous Chinese noodles also being made this way.
These noodles are a speciality of the Hui Muslim ethnic group and can be found all over China. Similar to Japanese ramen, the noodles are served in a clear beef soup or broth normally topped with coriander, spring onions and chilli.
Biang Biang Noodles
Biang biang noodles are a Shaanxi speciality that are famous all over China, not only for their delicious taste but also because of the character “biang” which is the most complex Chinese character of all!
In fact, it’s so complicated that it can’t be printed! This means that Chinese menus have to either opt for the pinyin biángbiáng面 or they use the alternative Chinese name 油泼扯面 yóu pōchěmiàn instead. Biang biang noodles are quite thick and wide so they are also sometimes referred to as “belt noodles”. They are commonly topped with spring onions, garlic, bean sprouts, coriander, Sichuan peppercorns, and chili.
Almost anyone in The West is going to be familiar with chow mein, the popular Chinese takeaway dish which derives it’s name from the Chinese for fried noodles 炒面 chǎomiàn. However, although this is where the name chow mein comes from, fried noodles in China aren’t quite the same as their Western counterpart.
As you can guess from the name fried noodle are boiled noodles which are stir-fried with a selection of sliced vegetables and meat. Fried noodles were then brought to the West by Chinese immigrants in the 1850s and overtime became more Westernised with more meat being added along with a thick sauce.
Like many of the noodle dishes on this list knife-cut noodles (刀削面 dāoxiāomiàn) refers to the way that the noodles are made, in this case being cut from a large piece of dough to make short, thick, rough noodles.
The chefs who make these noodles are truly skilful as they shave off the pieces of noodle directly into a pot of boiling water, taking both perfect accuracy and timing so that none of the noodles overcook. Apparently top chefs who have mastered the skill can cut 200 noodle strands in 1 minute!
Typically these noodles are served in a broth, but they can also be served in a stir-fry as well.
Dan Dan Noodles
Dan dan noodles (担担面 dàndàn miàn) are a speciality of Sichuan cuisine which of course means, as with many Sichuan dishes, that they’re pretty spicy! These noodles are long and thin and are topped with chilli oil, fresh chilli, Sichuan peppercorns, minced pork, crushed peanuts and preserved vegetables.
They are a hugely popular snack food in Chengdu and their popularity has also spread to other cities around China. They can be eaten as a main meal rather than just a snack if preferred.