Tan Tsai Noodles
In Edinburgh the season has changed once again and it’s turned really cold now. I feel like I’m still recovering from our holiday where we had really hot weather but recently I’ve had a really nasty flu and so the weather in Edinburgh hasn’t helped. The best kind of food for this kind of cold wet weather is a bowl of hot and tasty noodle soup. So, today I’m sharing with you a famous Taiwanese noodle soup called Tan Tsai Noodles.
The story of Tan Tsai noodle began in 1895. There was a fishmonger, Mr Hong, whose family migrated to Fucheng from Zhangzhou in China where he learnt how to cook noodles while making a living catching fish. After some time he moved to Tainan in Taiwan where he still made a living catching fish.
In Taiwan there are two festivals, one called the Tomb-Sweeping Fesetival which is held in March and the other called the Moon Festival which is held in August. Between these seasons is a period called the “Slack Season” where fisherman can’t go out on the water, so Mr Hong began selling noodles.
His noodles had a unique taste and so became really popular so he then decided to sell noodles full time. During the beginning he would carry his noodles on shoulder poles so he could sell them in the streets, so he called these noodles “Slack season Tan Tsai Noodles”. These are known as “Tu Hsian Yueh Tan Tsai Noodles”. “Tu Hsian Yueh” means slack season in Chinese and “Tan Tsai” translates to shoulder poles in Taiwanese.
So, as you can imagine this noodle soup perfectly sums up my situation right now. Since coming back from holiday I’ve been experiencing a slight “financial slack season” and all of the ingredients for this recipe are easy and cheap to get hold of. But the most important thing about this dish is the price doesn’t reflect on the taste, it’s still incredibly tasty. It proves that both expensive and cheap food can be equally tasty. Personally, I like local market food rather than fancy restaurant. It tastes a lot more home made but good home made food is always better than restaurant food.
By the way, I finally took a final picture myself. Now it’s getting dark and with Chris’s work schedule he really doesn’t have time to take photos himself so he taught me how to do the photos. Hope you like it.
Credits: Preparation photos were taken by myself but final photos were taken by Chris at: http://www.chrisradleyphotography.com
Tan Tsai Noodles
Ingredients for the noodle stock
- 1 chicken bone
- 6 Prawns only use the shells for the stock, keep the prawns for garnish
- 1 handful bonito shaving also known as Katsuobushi shavings
- 3 Spring Onions cut into 3cm lengthways
- 2 slices ginger
Ingredients for the mince sauce
- 400 g pork mince
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine
- 2 tbsp fried shallots
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp pepper powder
- 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 tsp rock sugar
Procedure for the noodle stock
- Remove the shell from prawns and use a little bit of oil to sauté the prawn shell
- Roast the chicken bone in the oven until the bone gets some colour on it
- Put everything into a stock pot and cover the ingredients with water.
- Boil it first then simmer for 2 hours. It’s now ready to serve with noodle.
Procedure for mince sauce
- Heat a wok with 2 tablespoons oil and stir-fry the pork until it’s cooked on the outside.
- Add all the ingredients and mix them evenly. Boil it first then simmer around 30 minutes to reduce down half of the sauce.
Final procedure for Tan Tsai Noodle
- Poach the prawn and vegetable in a pot of boiling water first. After cook the noodle in the boiling water.
- Place noodle and some mash garlic (optional) into a bowl and pour some mince sauce on top. Garnish with prawn and vegetable and add the soup.