Until some time during the middle of my high school career, post-Joy Luck Club personal ethnic crisis and pre-“Material Life in Modern China,” I’d always thought that everyone all over China ate the exact same mish-mashing of vegetables and meats, rice, breads, and noodles. I never thought twice about the difficulties of transporting food in a nation where, until recently, the vast majority of the population biked or walked. It barely occurred to me that, in another country where food seemed plentiful for the most part, the people there might still leave their crops to the seasons rather than force them to grow when the skies said they shouldn’t. Which isn’t to say that food here is grossly homogenized. In fact, dishes everywhere have distinct, regional ties–I just never really thought about them until that moment I discovered that instead of the stringly yellow egg noodles of my childhood chow mein, I’d walked into a restaurant that was serving thicker, doughier ones typical of northern Chinese cuisine, where flour/breads/noodles are staples. The south, however, serves the food that we in America are more familiar with: rice and side dishes.
I can’t say that I prefer one or the other–it’s a bit like asking someone who really likes The Beatles which song is their favorite. I’d say mood has a lot to do with it. Hunger always has a direction. When I’m at school though, I often miss the freedom of my own, fully stocked fridge and the resources (read: parents) to go out and buy any produce I want. This noodle recipe was the last thing I made before I came back to campus. My dad made it for our family’s Christmas gathering and I was really impressed at how great it tasted and how simple it was to make. Unlike the chow mein or other noodle dishes you’d get at a restaurant, this recipe uses a minimal amount of oil. In fact, the only oil in it is sesame oil for flavoring rather than for cooking. You can add any mix of vegetables or meat to it. For this particular recipe I used shrimp and spinach. I probably would have used gai-lan, which is commonly known as Chinese broccoli, if I had it.
Recipe for 1 bag (14oz or 16oz) of egg noodles:
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon light soy sauce + 1 tbsp if needed
2 tablespoon water (make it easier to mix)
4 quarts boiling water
1.Cook noodles in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. You don’t want them to end up mushy.
2. Mix in the sauce
3. Put any combination of stir-fried vegetables/meat or steamed vegetables on top