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Yunnan lu ersi 卤饵丝 (a rice noodle dish)

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Luxi

Looks scrumptious, must try!

Some Japanese udon noodles look a bit like your ersi, at least they are tough and thick enough to keep their shape in the wok. 

I'll have to give the MSG a miss (I must be allergic to it, gives me headaches), any possible substitute?

 

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abcdefg
16 hours ago, Luxi said:

Some Japanese udon noodles look a bit like your ersi, at least they are tough and thick enough to keep their shape in the wok. 

 

That sounds like a reasonable substitution, @Luxi. Good idea to try it. And yes, by all means, omit the MSG if it causes you problems. It's not essential. I'll go back and flag it in my recipe. 

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Alex_Hart

Yum! I miss those Kunming rice noodles a lot. I'm not sure I ever had these before, though. 豆花米线 was my favorite - how would those noodles compare to these?

 

Do you think sauteeing some mushrooms or 豆腐干 would be a good vegetarian alternative to the meat?

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abcdefg

Thanks for your comments, @Alex_Hart.

 

These ersi 饵丝 noodles are chewy, whereas the noodles of douhua mixian 豆花米线 are standard tender rice noodles 米线。Lots of Chinese people, let alone foreigners, have never seen or tried these ersi 饵丝。They are prized in Yunnan, but not widely known. (Abc was letting everyone here in on a secret!) 

 

The ersi 饵丝 and standard rice noodles 米线 are made by different methods. Ersi are made from rice flower and water that has been kneaded extensively and pounded enough to develop a very firm texture and formed into bricks. They are sold like that and a home cook can carve them to spec before using.

 

When they are cut, either by the home cook or by the vendor, mostly they are used as flat squares, called erquai 饵块。Sometimes they are sliced into noodles, using the term loosely, 饵丝。These have a square shape if viewed in cross-section; they aren't round like rice noodles 米线。Often they are dried so they can be packaged and sold in stores, but I prefer to buy them moist and fresh. 

 

By contrast, standard rice noodles, either thin ones 细的 or thick ones 粗的, are made from rice flower mixed with water and stirred enough to form a thick paste which is then extruded through a machine head with holes. These fall apart easily and have to be treated somewhat gingerly for best results. 

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Agreed regarding the vegetarian options -- I think flavorful mushrooms 香菇 or smoked doufu gan strips 豆腐干 would be excellent alternatives to meat. Slivers of carrot are also frequently added to this dish. They give it a dash of color as well a slightly sweet vegetable note. 

 

Part of what makes it work is not just the ingredients, but also the method of preparation. Stir frying and stewing sort of marry. This produces a rich gravy with loads of flavor. A perfect bowl of these should have some juice at the bottom but still not be a soup. 

 

I went back yesterday to visit the Tengchong "veteran" ersi master 老牌腾冲饵丝师傅 and check my version against his. Tengchong, in the west of Yunnan, is where these originated. Afraid he still has me beat. He's taciturn and doesn't like giving away his secrets. 

 

IMG_20171228_121750.thumb.jpg.3a26bb9883f5d44af430808cee32920b.jpgIMG_20171228_122325.thumb.jpg.87083592c77ca061f84944e8b5182e8e.jpg

 

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Alex_Hart
1 hour ago, abcdefg said:

The ersi 饵丝 and standard rice noodles 米线 are made by different methods. Ersi are made from rice flower and water that has been kneaded extensively and pounded enough to develop a very firm texture and formed into bricks. They are sold like that and a home cook can carve them to spec before using.

 

When they are cut, either by the home cook or by the vendor, mostly they are used as flat squares, called erquai 饵块。Sometimes they are sliced into noodles, using the term loosely, 饵丝。These have a square shape if viewed in cross-section; they aren't round like rice noodles 米线。Often they are dried so they can be packaged and sold in stores, but I prefer to buy them moist and fresh. 

 

If I'm not mistaken, I also ate 饵块 in a sort of 烧豆腐 style, kind of like a mini pizza with an assortment of sauces to dip it into. They were delicious - I had them right near "central" Kunming a few blocks from my hostel. 

 

This method of prep seems similar to mochi as well? I've never seen them here, will need to keep an eye out. I bought 米线 here, but it's always processed (not fresh) and didn't taste or feel comparable to what I had down in Guangxi and Yunnan. 

 

I like this cooking style a lot. One, it produces good texture. Two, it's saucy (ha!). I do it often with my mushrooms or onion, and the slightly burned parts get washed up with 黄酒 to coat whatever is going in next. I've never made it with noodles before, though. Will need to try!

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abcdefg
19 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

If I'm not mistaken, I also ate 饵块 in a sort of 烧豆腐 style, kind of like a mini pizza with an assortment of sauces to dip it into. They were delicious - I had them right near "central" Kunming a few blocks from my hostel. 

 

These are another of those special dishes that one seldom finds much outside the the confines of the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau. I buy them from street vendors, wouldn't think of making them at home because they require a stock to too many ingredients. 

 

What these are is pieces of 珥快 that have been pounded thin and flat, into a round 8 or 10 inches in diameter, superficially resembling a tortilla. Sometimes they are slightly oblong. Especially popular in the morning; can be eaten on the way to work with one hand. 

 

When you order one, it is roasted quickly over a bed of coals, which softens it. Then the vendor spreads it with various sauces, usually something sweet and something savory and something sour. She or he folds in a crispy 油条 (cruller or "oil stick") that has been quickly warmed and rolls it all up, handing it to you in a thin plastic bag. The inside thus becomes crunchy. 

 

These usually cost 5 Yuan these days and I feel ancient to remember the days of 3 Yuan breakfast erkuai across the street from the school I attended. An extra Yuan will get you a hot-dog heated and folded inside as well to make it into a more substantial and protein-rich meal.

 

Sometimes these are made from a combination of glutinous rice and bright purple potato-like tubers called 紫薯. Then the "tortilla-like" flat erkuai pancakes are 紫 violet in color. Taste about the same as the white ones, but have more eye appeal. 

 

Confusing at first to find that the name erkuai 饵块 refers to them as well as to the thick, noodle-like pasta. But that's just how it is, nothing you or I can do about it! (smile -- We shouldn't even try. Outside reformers not welcome in China.)

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Alex_Hart

Yum, makes me hungry just thinking about it! I miss the cheap street-side snacks of your parts. Preparation seems similar to the cheese snacks available in Dali and Lijiang, though I vastly preferred the 饵块

 

I've never seen the violet ones, sounds cool! And the ambiguity may be part of the fun!

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abcdefg
2 hours ago, Alex_Hart said:

And the ambiguity may be part of the fun!

 

I think they may be one of the "18 strange things found in Yunnan" 十八怪 that are often listed on travel brochures made for the domestic tourism market.  

 

Went back to my neighborhood's main wet market this morning. Bought some ersi from the lady who brings them from Wenshan Prefecture 文山州, a Miao and Yi minority area in the southeast of Yunnan. She claims they are better than the ones from Tengchong. I'm undecided. 

 

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As you can see, she mainly sells them in blocks about the size of a loaf of bread, wrapped in plastic so they will stay fresh. The guy ahead of me had her cut some in erkuai slices. She slices them by hand. You can see her tools at the rear on the photo at left above.

 

In the right photo above, you catch a glimpse of the sugar cane man who shares her space, sugar cane stacked at the rear of his stall. He does more business when the weather is warm, and today seemed to be mainly playing with his phone. He will sell you fresh cane from Honghe Prefecture 红河州 peeled to order and cut into pieces to chew. Or you can ask him to run it through a roller machine and render it into juice. 5 Yuan for a small plastic cup of it fresh squeezed. I sometimes indulge in a sip or a chaw. 

 

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Here's a shot of the ersi I bough there this morning. some of it stacked into a coffee cup so you can see a cross sectional view. These aren't round like noodles, either rice noodles or wheat noodles. When seen like this it's clear they've been cut. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also found a seller on another aisle specializing in the noodle products 面食 of northern china 北方。Most of these were dry, but he did have some fresh local items, including ersi and even a few sheets of thin erkuai, suitable for making the "rolled pancake" products mentioned in an earlier post, upthread. Some were purple, but they didn't show up very well in my snapshot. 

 

IMG_20171231_122411.thumb.jpg.8af6d8470eea8c1060aa9bcaf5b57a5f.jpgIMG_20171231_122425.thumb.jpg.95cd847aadc769b1ac21f1c221570edf.jpg

 

Always a productive small adventure to stroll around the wet market, especially on a Sunday like today. On the way out I saw a small cluster of people surrounding an elderly man in a white coat doing something to a woman seated in a folding chair. He appeared to be fiddling with her left ear. She was holding real still. 

 

I got as close as I could and asked a nearby gentleman what was going on. "She's my wife and he is treating her migraines with ear acupuncture. It's TCM. The doctor is 92 years old and last year he cured my backaches with his ear expertise." Looking close I could see fine needles he was inserting into the external ear (the pinna and tragus) then taping down with clear cellophane tape. The lady would need to leave them in place overnight, ideally 24 hours. 

 

Wanted to snap a photo, but it would not have been appropriate. I've never seen the street doctor there before today. The husband said he "travels a circuit" and charges 20 Yuan for a treatment session. The husband said that last year his back was so bad before the cure that he could barely get around. It took 5 treatments and today he is still well. 

 

 

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Alex_Hart

Abcd, I'm drooling! I really wish I had access to these kind of stalls here in Hangzhou. I do buy my noodles handmade (北方 noodles, as you call them), and I get homemade 红薯粉丝 from my girlfriend's family, but our markets really don't compare to this kind of thing - slicing up giant chunks of noodle for you. Envious!

 

With such access, I'm not sure if you know, but does it have to be super fresh? I found some on Taobao 5a48d1ad141af_WeChatImage_20171231200115.thumb.jpg.233e62c9f316cb065db8ec718e559465.jpgand thought I might buy some and try slicing it on my own.

 

I'm also fond of a cup of sugar cane juice or some chewing cane. There is an auntie who sells it right outside my old classroom area and I'd sometimes get it. I remember visiting the market in Yunnan and finding it really fun that the sugar cane seller was across the tiny walkway from a butcher who had a pair of ram skulls on display.

 

I remember being astonished at the sugar cane in, I want to say Nansha, in 元阳县. I had just sat on a bumpy, terrifying minivan ride down from the mountains where the 梯田 were and the driver deposited me on a random street in a hot and humid industrial town and told me "walk that way." The whole street was lined with dozens and dozens of people selling sugar cane. All the fruit stores have it here, too, of course, but this was like a forest of sugar cane in the middle of the street. I bought some for the long (8+ hours) bus ride to 西双版纳, along with the best bananas I've ever had in my life and the last 云南烧豆腐 I had. My trip was last February, so quickly coming up on one year, and I had a really hard time convincing myself that I should go see 张家界 or 甘肃 instead of returning for a second trip. 

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abcdefg

Those from Taobao should be worth a try. As a solid block they keep better than they do after being cut. Slicing your own from a block is a god way to do it. 

 

You remember right about the sugar cane around Nansha. It's a cane growing region. Sugar from there is highly thought of here in Kunming. It's sold in brown cakes shaped like a hat. 

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