As an essential, staple ingredient in Chinese cuisine, noodles are familiar to most people. Noodles come in a great number of varieties, some being wheat based (miàn), and some rice or starch based (fěn). Today, we’re going to take a look at some photographs of traditional, handmade misua, a thin, salted wheat flour noodle that originated in Fujian, China. Read on after the jump for a little more history and a few more photos.
Don’t forget that my 2010 calendar Renegade Beauty | Taiwan 2010 is available to buy for only $24.99.
The Chinese, Arabs and Italians all claim to be the inventors of noodles, however it’s in China that both the earliest archeological example, dating to 2000BCE and the earliest written account (Han Dynasty) exist. As mentioned above, Chinese noodles are generally either made from wheat flour, rice flour or mung bean starch. Wheat noodles are more common to northern China while rice noodles are mostly found in the south, however that’s by no means set in stone.
The noodles pictured here are the misua variety. Misua are thin, salted noodles made from wheat flour. They signify long life and hence are a traditional birthday food that can be found all over China, Taiwan and southeast Asia. Misua is easily cooked, taking less than two minutes in boiling water to be ready. Here in Taiwan, misua comes in two varieties – plain and brown. Plain is pretty self-explanatory, while brown sees the noodle steamed at high heat until it caramelizes to a brownish color.
One of the most popular, simple noodle dishes in Taiwan is ô-á mī-sòa or oyster vermicelli. Made from misua noodles and small oysters in a thickened broth, it’s a quick and tasty meal. Other commonly known noodles include lā miàn. Better known by its Japanese derivation, ramen, this is a hand-pulled noodle that’s popularity stretches as far as Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It should be noted that Japanese ramen and Chinese lā miàn are prepared very differently even thought they have the same origin.
The photographs in this post all come from the small township of Fuxing in central Taiwan. Fuxing is located across the river from the historic town of Lugang, once Taiwan’s second biggest city boasting a population of 200 000. For anyone who gets the chance to travel in this region, a visit to the traditional noodle maker is highly recommended.