While I was in Guilin, I of course had the opportunity to sample the famous Guilin mifen (桂林米粉) also known as the famous Guilin Noodles. These are rice noodles covered in a sweet gravy broth with a number of different ingredients not limited to ox bone broth and mangosteen in addition to many others. (The recipes vary greatly by restaurant) On top of the noodles green scallions, pickled cabbage and green beans and radishes are usually added on top. There is also a bit of meat in there, usually pork or dog.
One of the first things I did when I came to Guilin was look for the noodles so I could make that obligatory Guilin noodle video, which is what I did. The noodles were only 4 rmb for the bowl, which is about ~$.60! After covering with all the additional condiments, the noodles look quite pretty and very colorful.
The flavor is immense in these noodles. The peanuts are nice and crunchy and fried and mixes very well with the soft noodles. I love scallions in just about everything, but the pickled radishes and green beans were also tasty! The pork was super fried and had the consistency of something like pork rinds back home, but only the crispiness on the outside, meatiness on the inside. I think the bamboo shoots were probably the best condiment, though. Here’s one more look at them, don’t forget to check out the video I posted about these videos on my YouTube channel above!
Today I went to another local laoban that we frequent to order some pidan zhou – Which I have already written about in this blog before, a few weeks ago. Unfortunately they were sold out of the zhou, so we had some chaomian (炒面) instead. Chaomian are high heat wok fried noodles with eggs, pork, and vegetables added along with some spices.
These people are very nice and we frequent their establishment at least a few times a week. Today I asked if we could film them cooking and if they would do a little quick sit down interview with us. They agreed.
Chaomian can be hit or miss in China. I have had great chaomian, and totally lousy chaomian. Of course you can guess that this particularly lady does the chaomian just the way I like them – with 2 eggs, pork, and vegetables added. The end result is an absolutely delicious dish you would very rarely find back home in America, and no, Panda Express does not cut it. Check out the video below to see the cooking, tasting and interview with the laoban.
Today while walking around Dafen my girlfriend Maggie and I stumbled upon a restaurant from Chongqing, a city about 1500 kilometers northwest of Shenzhen. The laoban was serving Authentic Chongqing noodles so we decided to have a try. I ordered ma la xiao mian (麻辣小面, pungent and spicy noodles) and Maggie ordered paigu xiao mian (排骨小面, pork rib spicy noodles)
The laoban was a very nice guy. He allowed us to film him cooking the noodles and even sat down with us and had a quick chat. In the video, he boils the noodles and adds them to the soup broth. He then adds a number of things. He adds some chili powder, lajiao, a little more broth, green onions and cilantro. Maggie ordered paigu which has meat in it, so he added some pork ribs to the dish as well.
Upon trying these noodles for the first time, here are my thoughts. The noodles were not too chewy, which I really like, very easy to eat. The sauce and dish overall is pretty spicy. You can taste a lot of chili oil in there and the bite you get from the lajiao is not a normal spicy. It has almost a citrusy sour flavor to it. It sort of reminds me of hot pot, but it’s not really the same thing. The greens (green onions and cilantro) do a lot to enhance the look and flavor of this dish as well.
That’s all for today’s entry but be sure to check out the video for this afternoon’s lunch on my YouTube channel:
Today I felt like writing about one of my favorite Chinese foods. The Chinese are celebrating labor day weekend, so traffic in the city is out of control. I’m on the 21st floor but all I can hear are mass numbers of horns honking from the street below.
But that won’t stop me from updating the blog! Today we returned to our same laoban from last week, the one that makes killer 猪杂汤粉, pork noodles. We ordered our usual, the noodles, but also ordered a few other things as well. From a separate street stall we ordered 20 RMB worth (~$3.09)of some chaoshao, 叉烧, one of my favorite Chinese pork dishes.
Chaoshao is basically Chinese style roast pork, covered in an incredibly sweet and flavorful sauce. The sauce contains things like soy sauce, spice powder, honey, ginger, garlic, etc. The pork meat is soaked in this marinade for many hours, and then slowly roasted over a cooking fire. Upon tasting this, your flavor receptors immediately go off. It is a great combination of salty and sweet, nice tender meat that isn’t dry. This meat is seriously, OUTSTANDING and I am sure could win awards back home. It’s so good we even combined it with our noodles.
From our noodle laoban we also ordered one other dish: 牛筋丸, or niu jin wan, also known as beef meatballs. The meatballs are 1 rmb each, at a combined cost of 10RMB for all of them (~$1.54)
The meatballs were absolutely outstanding. In China you will often find street vendors selling Chinese soups with vegetables where you can pick the things you want to add from trays (Vegetables, meats, etc) and have the laoban boil them together in a soup for you. Usually the meatballs and fish balls that you will find at these stands are processed factory foods with who knows what in them. I only order meatballs from this particular laoban because I know she does them fresh and from real beef. They were excellent.
When factoring in the cost of our entire meaty and delightful lunch, it only clocked in at 50 RMB, or about ~$7.72.
I’d like to leave you today with Episode 6 from my YouTube cooking show: The Tomato Herbs and Cheese Toasted Sandwich:
Yesterday I went down to Wuhe, an area near the Bao’An district in the city of Shenzhen. Wuhe is a cool place, there are a lot of street food and restaurants there and the area has a very homey feeling to it. Instead of opting for ultra-cheap street food which I have done in the last couple articles, I thought we would kick it up a notch and go to more of a full service Guangdong restaurant. This was nothing fancy by any means but we had a number of dishes and the total bill was still only 57 RMB (A little less than $10 USD)
While looking at the menu, my girlfriend propositioned me and told me that I should try a century old egg, also known as a pi dan, 皮蛋. I was very intimidated and worried that the food was unsafe to consume. After doing relatively thorough research on whether the food was safe to eat, I discovered that despite its various nicknames, it is not actually one hundred or a thousand years old. The eggs are preserved and fermented using ingredients such as wood and ash for weeks, or months. After confirming that the food was “perfectly safe” to eat, we decided to order that and some other dishes as well. Here is the picture of the entire, modest meal.
So let me describe the rest of the dishes for you. On the far right is zhu rou zheng mi fen, 豬肉蒸米粉, which is a steamed rice noodle dish with pork covering the top. Directly next to that is jian jiao (煎餃子) also known as fried dumplings. These particular dumplings were filled with mushrooms and pork. In the smaller dish to the left of the jian jiao is the pi dan (The century old egg I was just talking about) and above that dish is tang cu yu kuai (糖醋魚塊) which is fried and battered fish covered in a sweet and sour sauce. Not pictured here is ji zhua, also known as chicken feet (鸡爪) as the waitress was taking a long time and hadn’t served that dish yet. I guess I forgot to capture the picture when it finally did come. Oh well. However, you can definitely see it in the new video I just uploaded to my YouTube channel talking about this very lunch! Check it out here:
The steamed pork noodles were good – the noodles were sort of chewy and the meat was nice and fatty. No complex flavors, but it’s also not a very complex dish. The fried dumplings were great, as they always are, and I love how when dumplings are fried, though it isn’t good for you, it always makes the outer part of the dumpling nice and crispy. Coupled with that lajiao that had vinegar in it turned it into a wonderful, sour yet spicy flavor. I am not a huge fan of chicken feet because of the bones but this chicken feet was very good. It was also covered in pickled peppercinis, a feature I really enjoyed. The fish was the only lacking dish out of the rest. The fish was full of bones when they told us there weren’t any (Pretty typical in China, though) the fish wasn’t crispy at all, and honestly didn’t have that much flavor. It wasn’t terrible, but not very good. And finally, the moment of truth came when I would sample my first pi dan, the century old egg!
I was more nervous than anything to take my first bite of this aged egg. I felt better when I learned that it is not actually years old but only weeks to months. When I took my first bite (Video linked to my YouTube channel!) I was pleasantly surprised. What I tasted was much more pleasant than I had ever believed it would be. It tastes a lot like a salted duck egg but (Thankfully) not nearly as salty. I also noticed it had a very creamy texture, that is actually very delicious. It sits in a broth with soy sauce and vinegar and is covered in diced red chiles, and sliced green onions. The sauce gives quite a bite to the egg overall. In conclusion, I was very surprised that I didn’t wince at the first bite!
That’s all for today, but I’d also like to leave you with Episode 4 of my cooking show, The Laowai Chef. On episode 4 I made some Mexican food, Steak Nachos with Guacamole. Check it out!
It’s been a rainy week here in the city, though I have been enjoying it. Today is a Saturday in Shenzhen. Overloaded rush hour metros, muggy transitioning-summer weather and odd smog patterns.
Today I was in such a rush I went without a breakfast. I even went without a lunch. It was a busy, busy day in China but at some point I managed to get myself out of the house for a meal. I went no farther than 120 meters from my door for a very typical all-meal-dish I know of as “zhu za tang fen ” or pork noodles, 猪杂汤粉.
What you have in this dish could be a number of different kinds of Chinese noodles (rice, flour etc), boiled with pork meat (undoubtedly some bones for extra flavor) and lean meat at that.
Also included are green onions, possibly some cilantro, and of course on option a dash of lajiao! (Chinese hot sauce, 朱杂汤粉)
Of course, taking the first bite is always the best part. There is nothing better than a bowl of protein packed, spicy meaty noodles.
So let’s talk about what we are looking at here in terms of taste and value. The cost for each bowl of noodles (I had a friend with me) was 20￥ for the pair. Let me confirm on that ambiguous figure. It was 10￥ for 1 bowl. That is ~$1.70 a bowl. That is about ~$3.50 US for a meal for two people. Shockingly cheap, refreshingly tasty! So we know the value is great, what about the taste? I can tell you that it is excellent and you would have a VERY difficult time finding something for even 2 or 3 times the cost of here. What you get when you get a bit of everything is (Meaning noodle, meat, and broth) an incredibly cheap yet flavorful experience. Zhu mian is a very common dish in China, very affordable, and very delicious. I consider it relatively healthy because it’s not fatty pork meat, and the noodles are not fried and the nutrients coming from bone-broth are numerous. In fact, it’s so good you end up with a picture like this:
On a Saturday evening, I couldn’t be more satisfied to have a thrifty meal in China. Weekends are often times very tempting to go out and spend a lot of money on a fancy western meal, but if you are willing to stay in the Chinese cuisine, dinner can be very cheap.
I’ll close this evening’s post with a similar recipe to tonight’s dinner: zhu zha tang fen, pork noodles with cilantro and mushrooms, or 排骨蘑菇汤 which is a recipe on my YouTube channel.