Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ran Mian (燃面)

Left front is the star of this post - a bowl of ran mian. In the rear is a slightly more expensive bowl of dan dan mian. In front is a little dish of pao cai and peeking in the far left is a bowl of noodle water to drink. Dan dan mian is one of the only things I could read on a menu when I first got to China so I ended up ordering it a lot and quickly got sick of it. I still eat dan dan mian from time to time but much prefer ran mian, noodles with similar spicy and oily condiments but which have added tang from the ya cai and crunch from the peanuts. Vegetarian versions are often available, and they cost two to three yuan for a little one liang bowl like this.

I haven't made ran mian yet - it is too cheap and easily available at the snack restaurants. But I will miss it a lot when I leave China so here is a recipe that I want to try when I can no longer get it on the street. It is from this Chinese food site, which gives quite a bit of background and explanation of the snack.

You need 3 oz of fresh Chinese wheat noodles, 2 tbs of chopped ya cai (芽菜, a type of preserved vegetable), 2 tbs of chopped roasted salted peanuts, one chopped green onion, 1 tbs of chili oil, 4 tbs of sesame oil, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp of vinegar, 1 pinch ground Sichuan pepper, MSG to taste.

Boil the noodles til al dente (texture is important) and drain; then toss with the sesame oil so they don't stick. Pile noodles into 2 bowls and top with remaining condiments. Everyone stirs the condiments into the noodles with chopsticks before digging in.

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