Basic Chinese Pantry. Noodles/Pasta


Noodles_cBy the article "Basic Chinese Pantry. Bean Curd" we began a series of articles about Chinese Pantry. Here is the next text on this topic. It's about such product as Noodles (Pasta). In China you will see people eating noodles of all kinds, day and night, in restaurants and at food stalls. They provide a nutritious, quick, light snack and are usually of good quality.

In China you will see people eating noodles of all kinds, day and night, in restaurants and at food stalls. They provide a nutritious, quick, light snack and are usually of good quality. There are several styles of noodles which are ideal for quick and eaSy cooking - for example, the fresh thin egg noodles which are browned on both sides. Thin rice noodles are much savoured also, as are the fresh ┬░nes which are readily available in Chinese grocers' shops. Below is a list of the major types of noodles (or pasta) that "can be bought in this country.

Wheat noodles and egg noodles These are made from hard or soft wheat flour and water. If egg has been added, the noodles are usually labelled 'egg noodles'. They can be bought dried or fresh from Chinese grocers', many supermarkets and delicatessens. Flat noodles are usually used in soups and rounded noodles are best for stir-frying or pan-frying. The fresh ones can be frozen successfully if they are first well wrapped. Thaw them thoroughly before using.

Wheat and egg noodles are very good blanched and served with a main dish instead of plain rice. Dried wheat or fresh egg noodles are best. Allow 4 oz (110 g) fresh or dried Chinese egg or wheat noodles per person. To prepare fresh noodles, immerse them in a pan of boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes or until done to your taste. To prepare dried noodles cook either according to the instructions on the packet or in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Then drain and serve.

If you are cooking noodles some time in advance of serving them or before stir-frying them, toss the cooked drained noodles in 2 teaspoons sesame oil and put them into a bowl. Cover this with cling film and refrigerate. The cooked noodles will remain useable for about 2 hours.

Rice noodles Rice noodles are popular in southern China. I find them a great convenience as, being dried, they do not need refrigeration and are quickly prepared for a fast meal. They are available from Chinese grocers' and are sometimes called 'rice stick noodles'. They are flat and about the length of a chopstick. They can also vary in thickness: use the type called for in the recipe. Rice noodles are very easy to use and inexpensive. Simply soak them in warm water for 20 minutes or until they are soft. Drain them in a colander or sieve and then use in soups or stir-fried dishes.

Bean thread (transparent) noodles These, also called cellophane noodles, are made not from a grain flour but from ground mung beans. They are available dried, and are very fine and white. Easy to recognise packed in their neat plastic-wrapped bundles, they are stocked by most Chinese grocers' and some supermarkets. They are never served on their own, but are added to soups or braised dishes or are deep- fried and used as a garnish - they are suitable for a quick meal. They mus be soaked in warm water for about 5 minutes before use. As they are rather long, you might find it easier to cut them into shorter lengths after soaking. If you intend to fry them, they need first to be separated. They are quite brittle so soak them before use a good technique is to separate the strands within a large paper bag to keep them from flying all over the place. If you are going to fry them, do not soak them before use.

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