- Noodles 100 Ways
- Pingyao Beef
Shanxi Noodles: 100 Ways to Happiness
Shanxi is famous for several food items as well as it's numerous historic sites. With a little help, someone might plan a series of trips to small villages to sample some of the more than 100 different types of noodles.
Shanxi is the reputed birthplace of the noodle, passed on from here to places around China, and on to Marco Polo who famously took the practice of making noodles back to Italy.
You might have noodles dry and topped with a savory sauce, or in a broth based soup, or sautéed. If you peek in the kitchen, you’ll see noodles pulled, pinched, snipped and sliced, some with great theatrics straight into the boiling cauldron
刀削面 - daox xiao mian (Knive Cut Noodles): this is considered the king of noodles in Shanxi province, famous in Datong. It is prepared by using a special knife-like tool. The noodles are 'shaved off' a large piece of prepared dough, always directly into the boiling water. They somewhat resemble egg-noodles with a tapered edge. The thinking is that the noodle, thick in the middle and thing on the edges is easily digested.
猫耳朵 - mao er dou: cat eared pasta (like orrechiete) which can be paired with sauces but tastes best sautéed with cabbage with soy and vinegar (pork optional)
拉面 - la mian: like all hand pulled noodles, a wonder to watch as 5 to 10 pounds of flours is kneaded, stretched and pulled into delicate even strands.
一根面 - yi gen mian: a 25 meter long single strand of hand pulled noodle in each bowl. This is something of a birthday tradition. The long noodle symbolizes a long life.
剪刀面 - jian dao mian: noodles are cut with an enormous pair of scissors as the giant spool shaped dough is rotated.
揪片儿 - jiu pian er: easy, just grab a long coil of dough and start pinching bits off into the water; best done at great distances from the boiling water so you can pitch them across the room
Typical noodle preparations -- Noodles are generally mixed and matched with a sauce of your choice; in Beijing, sauces range widely to service all tastes, from a vegetarian tomato and egg, to mixed eggplant and pork, and straight up stewed and fried meats including pork, beef and lamb. They can also be fried with meat or vegetables.
卤肉 - lu rou: soy braised pork sauce
炸酱- zha jiang: China's beloved fried pork sauce
番茄鸡蛋 - fan qie ji dan: tomato and egg sauce
茄子猪肉 - qie zi zhu rou: braised eggplant and pork sauce (at Noodle Loft: 大娘调和 - da niang tiao he)
酸菜黄豆 - pickled mustard and soy bean
Shanxi Vinegar is especially famous all over China for not only its health beneifts, but also for its fine taste. Rice vinegar is common in souther china.
The color is dark purple, almost black. It has a lingering, rich taste. It is sour, with a hint of sweetness, and a mellow intake.
'Old vinegar' and is something akin to wine and is used for medicine. Younger vinegar is used in cooking and is widely used, especially for noodles. Bottles can be purchased based on their age, just like wine.
Corn, wheat and other plants are used as original ingredients in making the vinegar, increasing the nutritional value. It has a high ph level than other vinegars, and is good for cleaning the blood.
The streets of the ancient city of Pingyao are lined with shops and most of the ones selling Pingyao Beef (平遥牛肉).
The beef is sold in small pouches by weight and it not very expensived. You can just open the pouch and squeze some out or slide it and serve with a side of vinegar. The meat is juicy and has delicious and somewhat spicy seasoning.
Anyone that takes a trip to Pingyao knows to buy some beef and bring it home for gifts.
The Empress Cixi passed through Pingyao, and spoke highly of it. She said, “by smelling it, one can refresh oneself, and by tasting it, one can recover from fatigue.”
Pingyao beef has a long history, but there is no record of who made it first. According to the county annals of Pingyao, Pingyao beef dates from Han Dynasty and was famous in the Ming Dynasty. Two beef shops open during the Qing Dynasty, Xingshenglei and Zilicheng, had great honor, and led to the development of modern Pingyao beef.