Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The art of the Noodle!

Yesterday, I ate noodles the entire day, and I loved it. By far, the easiest and one of the most affordable meals you can have in China is the beloved Chinese noodle soup. This is served practically on every street corner restaurant and everywhere in China. My favorite is the Beef Noodle soup which is made primarily of stewed beef, beef broth, a variety of vegetables which consist mostly of “suan cai”, a Chinese sauerkraut and green onions, and Chinese noodles. This famous country dish goes back a long way to the Hui people who created this delicious meal during the Tang Dynasty (618AD – 907AD). Yes, it’s that old! Here in China, Beef Noodle Soup is served up in a large bowl and treated as an entire meal. I decided to try this awesome, hearty and comforting meal for lunch yesterday at the Howard Johnson Hefei hotel’s coffee shop…and it was hot, steaming and incredibly yummy.
Chinese Beef Noodle Soup 
Howard Johnson Hefei coffee shop
After that meal, I found myself still dreaming of noodles and decided I wasn’t done with it yet. However, I wanted to sample one of a slightly different kind but just as equally famous, so my husband Marc and I headed to Wanda Plaza here in Hefei to the Japan Yamazaki restaurant to try their version of noodle soups…the much-loved and popular Japanese ramen. Ramen consists mainly of wheat noodles, served in a meat or fish based broth heavily flavored with either soy sauce or miso, and with additional toppings of boiled eggs, sliced pork, dried seaweed and green onions. Ramen traces its roots back to its Chinese origin and slowly evolved into its own unique concoction and taste in Japan. The main difference between the two noodle soups lies in the broth. Japanese ramen broth tends to be thicker and heavier due to the miso and soya flavors. The ramen was simply delicious and I closed my eyes as I savored the last drop…at least for the day. 
Japanese Yamazaki restaurant, 4/F Wanda Plaza, Hefei
Japanese Ramen

If you ever have an urge to go noodle crazy like me for one day and don't have the time to visit China or Japan just yet, there's no need to worry as you can easily sample any of these dishes at any Chinese or Japanese restaurant in your hometown. Or better yet, here's a recipe for a simple, easy, homemade Chinese Beef Noodle soup that you can conjure up and enjoy at home. Happy eating! 

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup (recipe courtesy of

2lbs. beef (diced)
3-4 tbsps. oil
6 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
2 tbsps. soy sauce
12-14 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
340g. (12 ozs) egg noodles (dried wide)
3 green onions (sliced)

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beef, in batches, and lightly brown.
  2. When the entire meet has browned, add the red chili flakes, and then add the meat back into the pot. Add the chicken broth, water, soy sauce and light brown sugar.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours. Skim the “guck” that comes to the surface the first 20 minutes.
  4. When ready to eat, boil the noodles in salted boiling water until tender. Drain.
  5. Add the cooked noodles to the soup. Add the salt and garnish with the green onions.
  6. Serve at once. Put the desired amount of noodles first at the bottom of each soup bowl and cover with the soup.