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Stir-fried noodles 炒面


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Here’s a quickie, cheap and easy, with endless variations.


Last week I found some delicious red bell peppers 红甜椒 at the market. They were so good that yesterday I went back for more. Crunchy and sweet. 2.5 Yuan each. Used one today for this dish. Picked up some Yunnan cured ham 宣威火腿 and 2 Yuan worth of freshly made egg noodles 蛋面。



(Please click the photos to enlarge them.)















Boil the pasta first, adding a dash of salt and a small amount of oil to the pot (half a teaspoon or so.) Undercook it slightly (“al dente”) and toss it with some oil as you take it out. I add ground white pepper as I toss it. Set it aside 备用。Save some of the pasta water. (Some cooks suggest rinsing the cooked pasta, but I don't do that.)  


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Quickly stir-fry the thinly sliced peppers, some garlic, a spring onion, and the ham. When the peppers are no longer stiff and the ham begins to change color, add the noodles. This took me about 2 minutes over medium-high heat, using a flat bottom non-stick pan 平地不粘锅。Mix it all together, stirring and flipping gently 翻炒均匀。Add a little of the pasta water that you saved to help things blend without scorching. The ham is salty, so the dish probably won’t need any more seasoning.


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You can change the vegetables and you can change the meat; you can even change the type of noodles. But if you want it to come out reasonably authentic, best not to use too many ingredients; this dish should be clean and simple. Family style 家常菜。


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All done 做好了。Serve it up 装盘。Chow down 动筷子。

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What's pasta the difference? I love egg noodles fried in butter till crispy using Italian pasta, but Chinese egg noodles are nothing the same. Not so much egg, maybe?


In any event, making your own food in China is the only way to be sure of getting real ham, not that awful Chinese Spam that's usually called 火腿 on menus.


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12 hours ago, 889 said:

In any event, making your own food in China is the only way to be sure of getting real ham, not that awful Chinese Spam that's usually called 火腿 on menus.


Menus in this part of China will usually list real ham, such as the kind used in this recipe, as 云南火腿 (Yunnan ham.) Since it is one of Yunnan's prized products 特产, it's not difficult to find. It seems like every couple blocks in my Kunming neighborhood has a dedicated ham store. Around holidays it's not uncommon to see people wrestling entire hams on their motor scooters or carrying them on the bus heading for the train station. 


This kind of pungent, full-flavored ham (aged a year or two) is sliced very thin 切薄片 or slivered 切丝 and winds up serving much like a condiment. The couple from whom I buy it in the market will cut my purchase in half and shrink wrap half so I can put that in the freezer. 


But you are right about small restaurants sometimes hoping you wont notice that they are substituting "blended mystery scraps" under the name of 火腿 or 火腿肠。 


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The places where I buy fresh hand-made noodles seem to always have two kinds, both in a variety of shapes, thick, thin, flat, round. One kind is egg noodles 蛋面, made with only flour and eggs just like Italian pasta, and another kind that's made with flour plus alkalinized water in place of some of the eggs. That latter kind is called 碱面 (jian mian) and they have a slightly "chemical" taste plus a very different, "denser" texture, closer to that of 刀削面 or 拉面。They are tougher, less likely to fall apart, easier to fry. I like both kinds.  


These 碱面 are the kind I used last week in the dish shown below. They look very similar to egg noodles. 


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Plus of course there are also many, many choices when it comes to dried noodles, pre-cut and packaged 挂面。I sometimes use those too, especially as part of a soup dish when texture is less critical. 

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