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A Know-Before-You-Go Noodle Guide
... her print and save Asian eating guide


Madelaine Greey is a Toronto food writer who speaks Mandarin Chinese and has lived and worked in Taiwan. Journeywoman asked her to explain the mysteries of the noodle dishes we might encounter on journeys East. Madelaine writes...

Noodles are a major staple across Asia and come in many different delicious and inexpensive varieties.

Chinese Culinary Pleasures...

Chinese Take Out

Basic types:

  • Egg noodles
  • Wheat noodles
  • Rice flour noodle
  • Mung bean noodles

Cooking styles:

  • To create a lo mein, noodles are cooked then stir-fried with various vegetables, meats and seafoods.
  • To create a chow mein, noodles are cooked, drained, then shaped into a nest which is fried on both sides until crispy, then blanketed with a stir-fried mixture.

What to Order in Chinese Restaurants:

  • Shanghai noodles are round wheat noodles that are cooked then stir-fried in a savory sauce with chicken, pork and shrimp.
  • Singapore-style noodles feature rice vermicelli noodles, curry powder, shrimp, barbecued pork and ham.
  • Soup noodles are on the menus of most Cantonese restaurants and are composed of egg noodles in broth, topped with barbecued meats.
  • Pan stickers are Chinese dumplings that have been boiled then fried until golden brown, served with dipping sauce.


Japanese Taste Treats to Explore...

Basic types:

  • Ramen -- wheat; most commonly sold pre-cooked with packets of broth
  • Soba -- buckwheat
  • Somen -- wheat, served cold
  • Udon -- wheat; a square-edged, thick, chewy noodle

What to Order in Japanese Restaurants:

  • Yakisoba are Japanese stir-fried noodles.
  • Tempura Soba is a noodle soup topped with deep fried vegetables and shrimp.
  • Nabeyaki Udon is udon noodles in stock topped with chicken, seafood, fish and vegetables.


Thai Treats Along the Way....

Basic types:

  • Ba mee -- Chinese-style egg noodles
  • Gway tio -- wide, rice noodles
  • Sen mee -- rice vermicelli
  • Wun sen -- glass noodles or mung bean thread noodles.

What to order in Thai Restaurants:

  • Mee Krob is a sticky and sweet dish composed of deep fried rice vermicelli topped with chicken, pork and shrimp in a sweet sauce.
  • Pad Thai is stir-fried rice-stick noodles mixed with egg, bean sprouts, meats and seafood in a peanut and tomato sauce.
  • Glass noodle salad features delicate mung bean noodles tossed with a mixture of ground pork, dried shrimp, peanuts, garlic, sugar, lime juice and chili peppers.


Her Cultural Nutrition Tip....


Rice, buckwheat, bean curd and bean thread noodles offer a tasty substitute for those with wheat allergies or sensitivities.


Travelling to Vietnam ...

Open Book

Travel guides to consider:

Vietnam on a Plate -- A Culinary Journey ISBN: 962-7992-02-X
Macau on a Plate -- A Culinary Journey ISBN: 962-7992-01-1

Series Editor -- Frances Bartlett
Series Author -- Annabel Doling
Series Publisher -- Roundhouse Publications (Asia) Ltd. Hong Kong

These lovely guides explore culinary traditions as well as modern menu, and at the same time they create an intimate and entertaining portrait of a country, its people and its cuisine. Well worth picking up!


Her Thoughts on Food and Culture...

All food starting with P is comfort food...pasta, pizza, pan stickers, Pad Thai...

Noodles are not only amusing but delicious.
(Julia Child, Julia Child & Company 1978)

"May your rice never burn," is the New Year's Greeting of the Chinese. "May it never be gummy," is ours.
(Irma and Marion Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking, 1931)

If you're interested in cooking, you're also just naturally interested in art, in love and in culture.
(Madame Jehane Benoit, The Canadian, 1974)

Japanese food is very pretty and undoubtedly a suitable cuisine in Japan...Hostesses hellbent on serving such food to occidentals would be well advised to supplement it with something more substantial and to keep in mind that almost everybody likes french fries. (Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life, 1978)

(Source: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women -- Rosalie Maggio)





Back to The Joy of Learning New Travel Stuff

Culturally Correct Dos and Taboos



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