What are Shanghai fried noodles?
Shanghai fried noodles (上海, Shànghǎi Cūchǎo) are fried noodles flavored with sauce and garnished with pork and vegetables. They are from the Shanghai region of China where they also bear the name of cu chao mian.
Present in all the markets of northern China, these noodles are extremely popular, easy and quick to prepare and taste. This dish is also found in dumpling restaurants. The noodles used are cumian, that is to say thick noodles made from wheat flour and water. They are typical of northern China.
What is the origin of Shanghai fried noodles?
If the Shanghai fried noodles are from the city of Shanghai, they were also met with great success in Hong Kong and are an integral part of the culinary style of the region. These noodles are found in most Chinese restaurants around the world.
In Shanghai, these noodles are truly associated with street food and it was once quite rare to prepare them at home. Today they have become quite ubiquitous. Beginning in the 1950s, many Shanghai residents moved to Hong Kong and popularized this recipe.
For many Shanghai residents, these noodles which bear their name are unknown to them and are, according to them, much more representative of the Hong Kong cuisine style, one of the styles of Chinese cuisine which has best exported throughout the world.
How to make Shanghai fried noodles
Cumian noodles can be made at home by mixing water and flour and working the dough until it is soft and smooth. The dough can then be spread, rolled out finely and cut or pulled until thick and regular noodles are obtained. Premade noodles are also very suitable, some are sold pre-cooked.
The rather lean pork should be cut into thin slices or strips and marinated in a mixture of light soy sauce and black soy sauce, shaoxing wine, an equivalent of yellow wine and sugar. Add cornstarch to the marinade which, when heated, will thicken the sauce. The meat should marinate like this for about 15 minutes.
The pork and the sauce are cooked in a very hot wok. Scallions and ginger are sautéed in the same wok with shiitake mushrooms.
For a vegetarian version, simply use these mushrooms and do without pork. The noodles are cooked in a wok. Soy sauce and sugar are added, and finally the pork. The noodles will take on a dark brown color when cooked in the sauce which will become thick and slightly sticky.
Variation: the noodles can also be cooked in simmering water, the noodles are cooked for five minutes then drained and immersed in ice water to firm them up and stop their cooking. They are again drained at the last moment and sautéed in the sauce. This step can be done in advance.
Noodles that are used for this dish are not always easy to find, but they can be replaced by Japanese noodles of the udon type whose shape and taste are similar to Shanghai noodles.
Pork can be replaced with beef or shrimp.
Sautéed noodles are very common in Asia. Each region has its own seasoning and style of noodles ranging from the thinnest to the thickest. Fresh noodles cook much faster than dry noodles and it is important to adjust the cooking time indicated because the cooking is done in a wok and not in boiling water.
- 6 oz. lean pork , cut into strips or very thin slices
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon light soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon black soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons oil , divided
- 8 shiitake mushrooms (fresh or dry), thinly sliced
- 2 finely chopped scallions
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 16 oz. Shanghai noodles (or Japanese-style udon noodles), fresh
- 2½ teaspoons dark soy sauce (black soy sauce)
- 2½ teaspoons soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 bunch choy sum (or baby bok choy), trimmed and rinsed
- In a bowl, mix the pork and all the ingredients necessary for the marinade and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok over high heat. Add the pork and marinade and sauté until golden.
- Reduce the heat, remove the pork from the wok and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in the wok and sauté the scallions, ginger, and mushrooms for about 2 minutes over medium heat.
- Gently untangle the noodles and add them to the wok.
- Add the soy sauces and sugar.
- Add the pork and sauté everything together until the noodles take on a uniform dark brown color. Add a little dark soy sauce, if necessary.
- Add the leafy greens and mix with the noodles until the leaves are wilted.
- Serve the hot noodles, possibly accompanied by Chinese black vinegar.