April 8, 2014

Chinese Shrimp Roe Noodles 蝦子麵

chinese, egg noodle, jook sing noodle, noodles, recipe, shrimp roe, 蝦子麵
By Published: 2014-04-08
This is a classic Cantonese Noodles dish, the Shrimp Roe Noodle, or 蝦子麵.  It's a traditional chinese noodle dish that has fallen out of favor in recent years because...well, actually, I don't really know why!  It is a stunning, simple yet complex, gorgeous to look at, and extra super yummy noodle dish (if made correctly!)  Plus, I don't know of any other noodle or pasta dish quite like this. If that ain't enough to make this Shrimp Roe Noodle dish a super star, I don't know what is!!

The Teahouse - 1982 movie directed by Xie Tian

In my mind the Shrimp Roe Noodle dish is the food personification of the Classic Cantonese gentleman: a slender, spare build of a man, quick of moves and speech, elegant in his long chinese gowns, modern dark sunglasses and western style fedora, as adept with the lore of good chinese food as with the poetry of the long ago Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), passing the days away in gentle contemplation whilst drinking tea and chatting with friends.  Guangzhou, which is the center of what is called Cantonese culture, has a fascinating food history as a wealthy merchant city with a propensity for spending their wealth chasing the extremes of good eating.

chinese, egg noodle, jook sing noodle, noodles, recipe, shrimp roe, 蝦子麵
chinese, egg noodle, jook sing noodle, noodles, recipe, shrimp roe, 蝦子麵
Dried Shrimp Roe
This classy noodle dish is made ​​with a Cantonese specialty: the extraordinary dried shrimp roe.  This beguilingly memorable food stuff is exactly what it sounds like: dried roe of the shrimp, each red orange roe so tiny that it becomes almost (but not quite) a powder.  In this Shrimp Roe Noodle dish, the sprinkled shrimp roe provides a pleasing crunch that contrasts perfectly with the springy yet smooth egg noodles. The taste is that of fresh sea shrimp concentrated and intensified, a tasty and unique experience.  Good Shrimp Roe, however, is not so easy to find. The roe must be kept from humid conditions otherwise it quickly loses its flavor and crunch.  
In Hong Kong you can try your local wet market or for sure the Dried Seafood Street in Sheung Wan will stock dried shrimp roe.  Macau, being the last bastion of traditional Cantonese cooking that it is, has good shrimp roe available and also you can still find small noodle restaurants that serve up a mean Shrimp Roe Noodles. ( Yummy!)  Unfortunately for those of us in Hong Kong, it's become near impossible to find a decent Shrimp Roe Noodles at local noodle shops.   Sigh ...  But no matter, we can make it quite easily at home!

chinese, egg noodle, jook sing noodle, noodles, recipe, shrimp roe, 蝦子麵

For the noodle you will need some Cantonese style egg noodle . These are usually sold dried but if you can get them fresh, why not?  These cantonese style egg noodles are thin, dense, chewy and more flavored than say northern Chinese noodles. The best kind of Cantonese style egg noodles are called Jook Sing Noodles, or 竹昇麵, and are made by a special technique where the noodle maker uses duck eggs and a large bamboo to knead the dough to a tender chewy texture. This Jook Sing technique is rarely used these days, as I'm sure you can understand why by checking out the video of the laborious process below. Seriously, looking silly aside, doesn't it hurt?!  (I must confess I laughed so hard the first time I saw someone do this!)

Cantonese style egg noodles are available at Hong Kong supermarkets and wet markets, but I've yet to have tried one that is anywhere near as good as the jook sing noodles that we have bought from the little old noodle shops in Macau.  Humm...it seems like a short trip to lovely old Macau for yummilicious food stuffs stock-up and some serious pigging out at our favorite traditional chinese restaurant is in order!

Chinese Shrimp Roe Noodles Recipe 蝦子麵
(serves 2) (Prep time: 2 mins  Cook time: 3 mins)


4 portions Cantonese style Egg Noodles
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp lard
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dried shrimp roe


Add enough water in pan to generously cover the noodles.  Add the salt.  When water is boiling, slip in the noodles.  When you can shake the dried bundle of noodles completely apart in the water the noodles are done, about 3 minutes.  If using fresh noodles cook 1-2 minutes.  (It is important that the noodles are al dente.  Overcooked noodles will ruin the dish!)   Drain noodles in colander then pour into large mixing bowl.

Add lard and soy sauce to the hot egg noodles.  Toss until completely incorporated.  Taste and add more soy sauce if needed.  Separate noodles onto individual serving dishes, then sprinkle each serving generously with the dried shrimp roe.  Serve while hot and enjoy!

Note:  Lard is the traditional oil to add to the Shrimp Roe Noodles.  Lard, especially the fresh kind you make yourself, is a wonderfully tasty oil and adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the dishes that it complements.  Watch out for our upcoming post on How to Render your own Lard!

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