Ode to Hand-pulled Noodles

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This Chinese New Year, treat yourself to a traditional dish of longevity.

La-Mien, as you would have known it, is a popular dish welcomed by many. Even visitors sing of its praise.

Moreover, as its name suggests, this dish is distinctive for its wheat noodle which is thick, and long. Traditionally hand-pulled by its masters’ to bring into being its creation, la-mien has an exceptionally taut texture. To cut it well requires the use of a pair of sharp, stainless-steel scissors.

The Origins of La-Mien

With its origins hailing from the placid countryside of Lanzhou, China, la-mien was once a dish for the poor. It also served as a fundamental food, second to rice, when large-scale wheat grinding became available.

Besides, noodles are symbolic of both longevity and good health in the Chinese culture. It is common to spot a Chinese slurping away on a hearty bowl of noodle, especially during their birthday.

However, it was not until the 18th Century that Singapore saw the initiation of la-mien on her streets. This is due to migration, which saw the poor Chinese travel down to Singapore, either by boat or by foot, in search of wealth. Since then, la-mien quickly gained popularity for its interesting method of preparation, and taste.

Today, la-mien has become a dish fit for the affluent.

Methods of Preparation

Currently, there are three common styles of preparing la-mien. They are: the Universally-Practiced style, which is an adaptation of the Lanzhou style and practiced by most Chinese restaurants, the Lanzhou style, and the Beijing style. Each style presents a unique way of dough stretching, kneading, and beating.

Creating a Flavourful Bowl of La-Mien

As Asia is hallmarked for being a region of spices, la-Mien in this region tends to be more piquant. A perfect instance would be the ‘zha-jiang-mien’ – a hearty, bowl of stir-fried mixed greens and minced meat dressed in chilli and soy sauce. Its sister dish, the ‘ma-la-mien’, bears a similar taste, except it is a little spicier.

Serving With a Heart of Heritage

Although there are many ways both restaurants and eateries can prepare la-mien, it is important to note that this dish should exude a well-balanced taste of fresh flavours. It is important that the ingredients used during dish preparation are fresh.

For a fulfilling Chinese experience, la-mien should be accompanied along with a glass of piping hot Chinese, or green tea. Hot tea also helps to quell the bloated feeling, which prevents one from enjoying his meal on most occasions.

At A Glance:

Name: La Mien

Origin: Lanzhou, China

Made From: Wheat

Colour Type: White

Serving Type: Various, although la-mien is commonly served either stir-fried or boiled