Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tianjin style zha jiang mian (dry noodles)

Because I am not very inclined to study financial statement analysis at the moment, and because I have a minor fixation with food, I will write about food.

The office in Tianjin is based in an apartment, therefore there's a kitchen and dining area in the office. The cleaning lady also cooks for us, so there's ample supply of 'home' cooked food with sufficient vegetables etc.

There's a particular style of noodles that she makes that is greatly welcomed by the office staff. If i'm not mistaken, its the Tianjin style of making zha zhiang mian (cantonese, zha zheong mien).

The noodles are thick-ish rice flour noodles, boiled then strained dry. The noodles are a bit soft but not mushy; the texture resembles that of laksa noodles (lai fun).

Condiments to go with the noodles (some cooked, some raw; some dry, some with a bit of sauce) were spread on the table, and we added whatever we liked to the noodles.

There were a LOT of condiments:
  • Thinly cut pork strips cooked with fermented yellow beans, made with enough gravy
  • Eggs and tomatoes, with wood fungus and other things (this is a rather watery mixture; beaten eggs were poured into the hot liquid to from fragmented bits of egg)
  • Finely grated cucumber, raw
  • Chopped coriander, raw (do not skimp on this)
  • Garlic cloves, raw
  • Boiled choy sum (or equivalent), cut into very short lengths ( ~2cm), lightly seasoned with salt/soy sauce
  • Stir fried long beans
  • Finely grated/cut potato and capsicum strips, stir fried and lightly seasoned
  • Boiled peanuts, seasoned with 5 spices

I strongly suspect part of the reason this thing is so good is due the vast spread of textures and flavours. Precisely the same things that make asam laksa worth a drive to Penang for*.

* i'm referring to that dirty stall by the market in Ayer Itam, the one below the Kek Lok Si hill and located next to a foul looking drain. Yeah, that one. To d(r)i(v)e for.

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