Journal #1- ban mian

Fujian Ban Mian

A dish that is important to me is the Fujian Ban Mian, which is essentially just sesame and peanut butter noodles. This a relatively unknown street food and it represents my cultural and personal background. My family is from a small village on the outskirt of the capital of Fuzhou, China that used to be mostly undeveloped until about a decade ago. When my parents grew up in the village, they did not have much financially and often had simple meals like this that are fast, filling, and only requires few ingredients. However, even when they have moved away from the village and to America, they have brought the recipe with them and made it at home. I remember eating this often as a child when my mom would make it for dinner or when I was at any family relatives house, especially at my grandmas. We would all sit together in a big table and quickly eat this as it is piping hot as we reminisce about the past and catch up on our lives. If the noodles sit too long, the sauce and noodles would become too sticky. As a child, I frequently visited China to visit my grandparents and other relatives and they would either make these noodles with their homemade peanut butter or they would take me to one of the many small shack-like restaurants a couple blocks away from each other. This peanut butter noodle was insanely cheap, in which the small, medium, and large bowls were 3, 4, and 5 yuan respectively, which are less than $1 in the US. They make everything homemade from the noodles to the peanut butter, which was more like a combination of peanut oil and paste. Because it was such a small village, almost knew each other or knew one of our relatives and they serve you and treat you like family. However, many of the restaurant owners have now immigrated to America and some of the best ban mian noodle restaurant has now closed down.

The Fujian immigrant wave to America started in 1980 to the present and consisted of poor Chinese immigrants often by illegal means. They have brought with themselves this dish to New York, which can be found in a couple shop tucked away in Chinatown New York for less than $3 on Eldridge Street and parts of East Broadway where the Fuzhou immigrants settled. In both China and in America are small, cozy, and hole-in-the wall restaurants with little décor and just open tables. Fujian cuisine often emphasizes the umami taste while being light, flavorful, soft and tender. This type of food is also known as xiao chi, which means small eats or otherwise known as snack. Ban mian translated means “tossed noodles” and is traditionally a lunch food, but it can also be eaten for breakfast, dinner, or late night snack. Peanuts are popular in China as there are peanut oil, paste, or sauce, however, peanut butter is typically an unusual ingredient in China and is not found in most dishes. Many people eat ban mian accompanied with Fujian wonton soup, called Bian Rou, which has thin skin in a light broth. This is a very popular fast food lunch option and is very light and convenient.

When I was about to leave for college, this was one of the first recipes that my mom taught me. It is so simple and takes maybe less than 5 minutes to make this, which is only a little bit longer than microwaving a frozen dish, but so much healthier. My mom prides herself in making home-cook meals as often as possible. I make this when I am crunched on time and as comfort food as this reminds me of my childhood, my grandparents, and of home. It reminds me of my family’s background of where they came from and the hardship of how they immigrated to the United States. This is so significant to me because it is my favorite and first Fujian dish that I ever learned.

 

Ingredients

1 pack of wonton noodles (contains 3 or 4 nests of noodles)
3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
Soy sauce, to taste (start with one tablespoon)
Sesame oil, to taste (start with one tablespoon)
1 scallion, for garnish

Cook one clumps of wonton noodles into boiling water. Cook for 1 minute (or 2 if frozen) or until the noodles are warm and pliant. Mix peanut butter, soy sauce, water, and sesame oil in a bowl, tasting until you find a good balance of flavors. Add more pasta water in to make the sauce soupier. When the noodles are done, scoop them up and plop them into the bowl. Throw chopped scallion on top of the noodles for taste and garnish. Mix it all in and Eat!

My mom’s side of the family

Image result for fuzhou ban mian

Image of fujian ban mian from Radii China

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.