Hot dry noodles
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|Hot dry noodles|
Hot dry noodles (right), dou pi (left), and congee.
|Literal meaning||hot and dry noodles|
Hot dry noodles (Chinese: 热干面 pinyin rè gān miàn), also known as reganmian, is a traditional dish of Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province in central China. Reganmian has a history in Chinese food culture for 80 years. It is a typical breakfast food in Wuhan, and is often sold in street carts in residential areas. Breakfasts such as Reganmian are available from as early as 5am and are served until midnight (breakfast turns into snacks at night) in Wuhan. The noodle is inexpensive thus remaining as a popular breakfast choice in Wuhan.
The recipe for hot dry noodles is different from cold noodles and noodles in soup. Firstly mix the cooked noodles with oil and dry them. When they are about to be eaten, scald the prepared noodles in boiled water, mix them with condiments, and the noodles will be ready to eat. The finished hot dry noodles are firm and chewy, golden and oily, savory and fresh. It is made of noodles called jianmian (碱面) with a mixture of sauces and dried vegetables. Many stalls that make reganmian will have their own variations in seasoning, creating signature tastes for individual stands or localities.
Reganmian restaurants stand all over the city. Among them, Cai Lin Ji is the most time-honored. Established in 1930, Cai Lin Ji survives much competition and wins the current reputation with its selected materials and refined processing techniques. It has over 20 chain stores in Wuhan. The typical bowl of reganmian will have soy sauce, sesame paste, pickled vegetables, chopped garlic chives and chili oil. Reganmian is a popular local breakfast sold in road-side stalls or from push-carts. Reganmian is popular for locals for every season of the year as breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a snack. Wuhan's reganmian, along with Shanxi's daoxiaomian (刀削面: knife-cut noodles), Liangguang's yifumian, Sichuan's dandanmian, and northern China's zhajiangmian, are collectively referred to as "China's five famous noodles." In 2013, Wuhan Reganmian was rated No. 1 in a contest for China's Top 10 famous noodles.
Both Wuhan and Szechuan cuisine make extensive use of chiles, to cleanse the palate and to cope with the humid climate. The chef first cooks the fresh noodles mixed with sesame oil in boiling water. When the noodles have cooked and cooled, it becomes pliable. Before eating, the noodles will be cooked in the same process again. Finally, dressings including spring onion and sauce will be added. When preparing reganmian, the noodles are placed into a Chinese strainer (a cone-shaped strainer) and dipped briefly into boiling water and then swirled and drained. The noodles are poured into a paper bowl and the sauce and pickled vegetables are poured on top. Chili oil is used in the seasoning of reganmian as well as a little fresh corriander.
In the early 1930s, there was a small restaurant operated by Bao Li, who made a living by selling bean noodles and noodle soup near a temple in Hankou. One day, by accident, he spilt sesame oil onto his noodles. The next day, he eventually boiled those noodles and added shallot and other condiments. Next morning, his noodles soon became very popular because of its unique taste. Many people ask Bao Li what kind of noodle it is, Bao Li answered: Hot dry noodles.
In 1933, there are three kinds of reganmian, which are quanliao reganmian, shrimp reganmian, and chashao reganmian. Until in June 1996, there are eight kinds of reganmian, which are quanliao reganmian, shrimp reganmian, chashao reganmian, pork reganmian, zhajiang reganmian, fish reganmian, sanxian reganmian, and fruit reganmian. In 2005, a new kind of reganmian appeared, which is called red oil reganmian. While reganmian is very common in Wuhan, it is difficult to find traditional reganmian outside the city.
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