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The art of making Chinese noodles

China holds a special place in our families heart. It all started with a single piece of paper and $50. We decided it was time our family expanded back in 2014. My husband and I both traveled and loved seeing different cultures and foods from around the world. In my travels, I had been to several orphanages and felt a desire to adopt an international child. After various rules, restrictions and even government regulations, we settled on a child from China. So in October of 2014, we began the process to adopt and two years later we traveled to China to get our daughter. Prior to heading to China, I was fortunate to have a graduate assistant from China. She taught me so many lessons about Chinese heritage and culture. She shared the holidays of Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival, which our family celebrates each and every year. She brought me various foods to try and sample. I tried beef tendons (not for me) and moon pies (which I simply adored but not like the southern delicacy). Kanglei’s mother flew over a few weeks before we left to help us with our girl and to get Kanglei on track for completing her doctorate. They truly became our family and made our transition so much more because of their generosity.

In October of 2016, we left for China to get our 5 year old daughter. It was a special and stressful experience for us as a family. We traveled first to Beijing and got to do some sightseeing before we flew down to Guangzhou. We were acclimating to the time difference and culture for 48 hours before our lives completely changed. We explored the city and after an exhausting travel of 24 plus hours, we were ready to sit down and eat. Trying different foods in a language you could not decipher was a challenge and yet so much fun. We looked at pictures and pointed, sure lets try it! Most food we tried was mouthwatering. A few were questionable and one was scorching hot. My husband did not mind but I downed by drink in two seconds flat. After a few days there, I knew that I wanted to learn what my daughters favorite foods were so that I could make them at home and bring a little bit of China to her. I remembered how I felt when my Aunt Georgia and Aunt Ruth made my favorite foods. It always made me feel so loved and I wanted that for my girl.

Kanglei and I at the Festival of the Moon celebration in Kentucky.

If you were to ask my daughter what her favorite food is, every time she will tell you soup, rice and noodles. I have taken lessons from Mrs Meng (Kanglei’s mom) and even at the Confucius Institute since my travels. I can use a butcher knife and cook with chop sticks. My daughter loves helping me make a noodle called, cat-ear noodle. No cats were involved, I promise. This is such an awesome and rather easy noodle to make. You can pair this with a Kung Pao chicken or ground chicken dish similar to what you use in lettuce wraps.

The process for making the noodles is very simple and fun. We had a competition going on to see who could make more noodles. The ingredients are so simple: all-purpose flour, water and a little extra flour for the work surface. That is it. When you pair this with a flavorful meat, it is a wholesome meal. There are a few key ingredients from China that you must have on hand for most dishes.

I buy 13 Spice powder from Amazon. You can use 5 spice but I have found that most Chinese use the 13 spice in their meat dishes. They also use a vinegar in most all of their meats as well for flavor and tenderization of the meat. The cooking wine sets the bar and adds extra zing to most chicken and pork dishes.

In every province, similar to our states, there is a food or delicacy. My daughter is from the Guangdong province. They are known for amazing dumplings, noodles and dim sum.

We loved the flavors and the beauty of the country. The open markets are quite unique with items that we hardly ever see. Dried starfish, shrimp and items I could not decipher. In the grocery stores, you would see meat hanging on racks and lots of fish on ice. The food was always served in a family style setting and typically on a turn table. My two trips to China were memorable for different reasons but the food was spot on each time.

So let’s get started bringing a bit of China home!

Cat Ear Noodles

  • 1 cup of All-purpose flour
  • Less than 1/2 cup water
  • Little extra flour for the working surface

Slowly blend in water and mix with a pair of chopsticks until water is integrated with the flour and there is no dry flour left.

Knead the dough until the dough forms. It will be a bit sticky.

Cover the dough with a damp paper cloth and let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Dust the work surface with flour. Transfer dough onto it and continue to knead until the surface turns smooth and the texture is stringy. When it starts to feel sticky add a little extra flour.

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a log and medium thin rectangle. Cut into long bars. Then cut into little squares approximately 1″.

Take your rectangle bars and cut them down to small cubes or squares to get the right size cat ears.

Once you have your cubes, press and roll the cubes with your thumb back and forth to create the cat ear. Then put the ears in the boiling water. Boil the noodles for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Guangzhou Chicken

1 tbsp of Stir Fry Oil (I buy this in bulk on Amazon – I am a bit obsessed)

1 lb of ground chicken (you could use turkey or pork if you desire) .

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 onion diced (I am a red onion fan and use it in my cooking)

1/4 cup of Hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp of soy sauce

1 Tbsp of Shao Xing cooking wine (if you can’t find this at your local Asian store use rice vinegar instead)

1 tsp of 13 spice powder

1 Tbsp of Sriracha if you like a little heat

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in saucepan over medium high heat, add ground meat and cooking wine. Once it starts to brown add the onion and garlic, 13 spice powder, hoisin sauce and the soy sauce. Once it has completely cooked add salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste.

On a plate, ladle out the noodles, then add the Guangzhou chicken to your noodles for a delicious South China meal.

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