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Oodles of ways to enjoy noodles
2015-08-18
By Lu Feiran

Noodles are quintessential in Chinese cuisine. They vary in shape, texture and recipe across the nation, but in any format, they are delicious. In Minhang, many regional tastes have been blended into local specialties, and many restaurants offer authentic versions of regional dishes. Shanghai Daily offers this guide to some of the best noodle eating in the district. 

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Shanghai cold noodles

Cold noodles are a popular dish during the hot days of Shanghai summers. Snack shops across the city stop selling hot noodle soups in about May, replacing them on the menu with cold noodles for the next four months.

Cold noodles are more than just boiled noodlesleft to cool. Noodles treated that way quickly become gummy. The correct way is to steam the noodle first before boiling.

Back in ancient times, people just plunged boiled noodles in tap or well water to cool them and prevent them from becoming sticky. The method did help maintain the firm texture of the noodles, but impure water sources often pro- duced diarrhea.

The steaming-first method is attributed to a snack shop named Siruchun, which steamed the noodles and then cooled them with electric fans.

The traditional sauce with cold noodles is onemade of peanut butter, vinegar and soybean sauce,while the most popular toppings are stir-fried sliced green pepper, sliced pork and bean sprouts.The combination of savory and sour tastes is so refreshing on a hot summer day. 

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Beef noodles

On the mainland, beef noodles are always associated with Taiwan, even though the popular Taiwan dish actually traces its origins back to soldiers from the mainland.

It’s said the soldiers craved hometown cooking and devised a noodle dish that amalgamated different styles of cuisine: the frequent use of soy sauce in Shanghai cuisine, the soup cooking methods of Guangzhou and the spiciness of Sichuan cuisine.

After decades, beef noodles has come to be considered “authentic Taiwan cuisine” to mainlanders, who can always find something familiar in the dish. 

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Noodles with soybean paste

These noodles, with their characteristic strong flavor, originated in Beijing, though the dish is now popular all over the country.

A good soybean paste is key to the dish. Usually it is combined with stir-fried ground meat, spring onion and ginger with oil. When the meat is half cooked, the sweet soybean paste is added.

Different places have their own variations,including the type of noodles used. In Shanghai, thin noodles are most common. 

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Biangbiang noodles

No Chinese input software can display the character for biang, which has 56 strokes and is considered one of China’s most complicated characters. The noodles, however, are not so complicated.

Originally from northwest China’s ShaanxiProvince, biangbiang noodles is snack that can befound in almost every snack bar and restaurant in the northwest of China.

The noodles are typically cooked al dente, and then heated peanut oil sauce is poured onto thenoodles, along with chili, Sichuan pepper, groundginger, spring onions and garlic. Sometimes stir-fried carrots, tofu and ground pork are also served with the sauce.

The Shaanxi Family Restaurant in Xinzhuang is believed to serve most authentic biangbiang noodles, with the classic chewy texture and spicy flavor. 

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Red noodle soup

Red noodle soup is the general name of soup with soy sauce added. The dish is widely found inShanghai and its neighboring provinces, though often under different names. It is called aozaonoodles in Kunshan, guogai noodles in Zhenjiangand Suzhou noodles in Suzhou.

The soup features thin noodles often called “dragon whiskers.” The toppings are classics passed down through generations: broiled pork, fried fish with soy sauce, shiitake mushroom andwheat gluten, and salted green vegetables with sliced pork.

Red noodle soup fits the Shanghai palate to a tee. The soup is savory with a touch of sweetness, and all the toppings are common to every family dinner table in the city. 

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Chongqing little noodles

This is a popular breakfast dish in the southwestern city of Chongqing. The “little” actually refers to noodles without any toppings, though that distinction is often blurred in versions that do use toppings.

The quality of this dish depends on the chili sauce used. It is usually made with Sichuan pepper, soy sauce and other seasonings, such as salt and lard oil.

Chongqing people have their own codes when ordering little noodles. “Raising it yellow” means noodles cooked al dente. “Adding green” means more green vegetables. “Quick-fry” means no soup with the noodles

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