Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Oodles of noodles, or pasta, or 麺 (mian), What is the correct way to prepare them then?

August 16, 2011

What is al dente or “to the bite? How can you say rinsing is not right?

I can not explain how a culture that has a pasta or noodle like dish (since 2000 BC) do not have a recognized name like pasta, noodle, or ramen, besides fun (粉) or mein (麺 mian), but I do know that not all cooks are right. Like pasta there are different types of 麺 and 粉. There are different ways to prepare them too, like rinsing them before putting in soup.

Depending on what I am cooking or what I have, I sometimes rinse my noodles. Like “fun” for example, if I bought them from the supermarket and have them in the fridge, I sort of dunk them several times in boiling water to soften them up and get rid of some oil. They are very soft so there is no bite to be had. There are many ways to grade the quality of these noodles as much as the variety of them. Chow fun, to me, is good if it has the following qualities:
1. Has the taste of the Wok
2. Aroma of dark soy (caused by an adequately heated Wok)
3. Not too oily
4. Not clumped together
5. Evenly colored
6. Not too thick
7. Does not stick to the teeth upon being bit
8. Has a sort of snap when you bite into them

Chinese also has and uses many types of noodles, mein, and/or fun. Mein are noodles that are usually made from wheat flower, which Westerner’s refer to as pasta. However there are also many kinds not just shapes of them. One of the more famous ones are the hand pulled noodles as seen in one of the Amazing Race episodes. The measure of the quality of these noodles is how thin and long they can be. And I believe it is a plain water dough. Though other forms of these noodles are graded on different criteria. Most ramen restaurant ran by Chinese translate ramen to mean hand pulled and the noodles reflect that quality, which the noodle has a slight toughness due to the development of gluten and a snap, but not a doughy stickiness.

Besides just water and flour noodles, we also have egg noodles which the pasta resembles. However there is a version of this with potassium sulfate. It might sound inedible but it enhances the crisp and springy texture. Too bad it does not taste really good stir fried. The closest to stir fry I have seen this noodle in is with onion and ginger, and a few dishes which it has a stir fry on it and mixed in but very good accompaniment with soup dumplings such as wontons/raviolis.

When I taste top ramen, I think of the noodles I have at weddings and birthdays. Some call it long life noodles because they are meant to be served in really long strands. They are fried in a round pan, giving it a cake like form. Yet they do not taste greasy. The texture is also very soft so it also does not have what is called an al dente texture. And even though it is served in long strands it is not tough or chewy. It is very top ramen like.

Although we also have fresh and dried egg noodles like pasta, it taste very different texturally. Unlike Italian pasta, most Chinese noodles have different textures and we use it for many different applications. For example there is a thin angel hair like egg noodle that taste differently depending on how it is cooked. In a soup it has a stingy snap, in a stir fry it has slightly tough snap, but when it is pan fried the outside is crisp while the inside is soft, fluffy, and has and aromatic smell of egg, similar to that of a cake.

So why are the origins of noodles less popular than pasta?