Crossing the bridge noodles
|Crossing the bridge noodles|
|Literal meaning||Cross bridge rice noodles|
The dish is served with a large bowl of boiling hot broth and the soup ingredients separate. The soup ingredients are served on a cutting board or plate and include raw vegetables and lightly cooked meats. Common ingredients include thin slices of ham, chunks of chicken, chicken skin, strips of bean curd sheets, chives, sprouts and rice noodles. Once added into the broth, it cooks quickly with a layer of schmaltz and oil glistening on top. The soup takes a few minutes to cook, and it is then spooned out into small bowls. Jim Thurman of LA Weekly writes that "with the rice noodles and fresh chicken, it's reminiscent of an extremely subtle version of Vietnamese pho ga. This happens to be, as Yunnan shares a border with Vietnam."
Claims of name origin
One story that has gained traction begins with a scholar who was studying hard for his imperial exams on a small island. His wife, who would bring him food, found that by the time she had crossed the bridge to the island the soup would be cold and the noodles were soggy. She then decided to load a large earthen pot with boiling broth with a layer of oil on top that would act as insulation and keep the broth warm. The noodles and other ingredients were kept in separate container, and when she arrived, she mixed the two containers together for a warm soup.
Another claim regarding the origin of the name comes from the way the ingredients are transferred between containers. The process is similar to crossing a bridge between bowls, and hence it is called "crossing-the-bridge" noodles.
There are reportedly many other variations on the origin of the name.
The main ingredient of the noodles is rice. Rice vermicelli production is quite different in many regions. In particular, in Kunming, Yunnan, there are two varieties such as "dry paste" or "sour paste". The production process differs depending on individual preferences and tastes. The distinction is quite simple, "sour paste", as the name suggests, tastes a little sour, but obviously it is characterized by a relatively thick and soft rice noodle. The "dry paste" does not have the sourness of the sour paste, and the noodle is relatively thin and more rigid. The older people in Kunming think the "sour paste" noodles is more authentic. Most people in Yunnan think the Kunming noodle does not satisfy their taste buds, and generally believes Mengzi County and Jianshui County makes better noodles.
Now, as people's tastes change, all kinds of noodle varieties are flooding onto the market. Kunming people now do not necessarily pick a "dry paste" or "sour paste." At present people prefer the more efficient, slippery "water-washed rice noodle" and "purple rice noodle", one that is mixed with purple rice.
The development of Guoqiao mixian has changed people's eating habits over the years, especially breakfast. People's eating habits in the course of normal life should be just as simple as Guoqiao mixian represents, simply crossing the bridge. Generally in street markets, the hot fresh rice noodle is put into bowl of boiling water for about half a minute and then adding colored sauce in the bowl. This is known as the "hat" of the sauce. Guoqiao mixian served in markets in the morning are usually completed in one minute.
There are a few franchised restaurants across the bridge which serves more intricate or elaborate Guoqiao mixian dishes. Normally Guoqiao mixian is ordered in a set, a set of bridge noodle will cost 10 to 50 Yuan. Ordering the Guoqiao mixian with more ingredients, meat, or vegetables, will command higher prices.
The general ingredients of guoqiao mixian include:
It is generally served first with a bowl of boiling hot soup, with temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius. The attendants will then be on the other side and put the ingredients into the bowl, generally in the order from raw to cooked: meat first, then quail eggs, and then vegetables. Finally, perform the noodle "crossing" with chopsticks and the dish is ready to be consumed. The amount of oil, chili, and vinegar one puts in the bowl varies according to personal taste.
- Thurman, Jim (Jan 19, 2012). "Crossing The Bridge Noodles: Yunnan's Signature Dish + Where To Find Them". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2013-08-28.