Chinese Noodle Soup in New York City 面汤 or 麵湯

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As a crisp Autumn chill falls over New York City, my mind wanders to one of my favorite food items. Chinese Noodle Soup.

In the chillier months, there are few things as satisfying as going to Chinatown for a big bowl of noodle soup.  There are so many great soup places in Chinatown and all you have to do is go and find one!  Don’t be afraid.   Once you arrive you can order in Chinese.  Read on!

In Chinese, soup is “tang” which sounds like like “Tahng” – not like Tang, the orange juice powder.  Noodles in Chinese is “mian” – And YES!,  it’s the same “mian” of Chow mian. (Chow means “stir-fried so “Chow mian” just means “stir-fried-noodles” and is often written as “chow mien”)

You’ll probably also see the Chinese Characters which 面汤 or 麵湯 both mean “noodle soup”  but the first one is a simplified version used in Singapore and Mainland China, with the second pair being the traditional characters used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and overseas Chinese communities.

Back to the soup… So now you can go to Chinatown or your favorite Chinese restaurant and ask for “Mian tahng”.   Chinese soups come in hundreds of varieties, but all have basic fundamentals – broth, noodles, vegetables, meat or seafood, sauces such as chili sauce, and things like vinegar or sesame oil.

I make Mian Tang all the time in the cooler months, and even sometimes in Summer.  It’s fast and easy.

I take about 2 to 3 cups chicken broth (bouillon, fresh or low-sodium), bring it to a boil and add sliced ginger, scallions and chicken sliced and velvet-ed with a bit of cornstarch. Add some vegetables such as Chinese bok choy or Napa cabbage, carrots, spinach, tomatoes (yes Chinese eat them in soup). I love to add some Tofu cubes too.

Now the noodles. There are hundreds of varieties from rice noodles, to soba, to plain flour noodles – I even sometimes just use Italian angel hair pasta!

Traditionally the noodles are boiled separately and then assembled with the broth. Sometimes I do that, and sometimes I just throw the noodles in along with everything else. Who cares? You’re alone!

After the noodles and soup are in a nice big bowl, then I add chili paste and/or some vinegar and/or some sesame oil. Remember sesame oil is better when it’s not cooked, it’s fresher and more fragrant when it’s used as a garnish.

Well now I’m hungry.. I think I’m off to Chinatown!

Check out the Chinese Soup section on the site under Chinese.  www.thelanguagechef.com

Robert Aiudi
Robert Aiudi, a.k.a., The Language Chef, has been known to his friends and family as a “language junkie” nearly his entire life. He is fluent in many, conversational in others and can fake it through another large amount of some of the most exotic languages in the world. He has taught and tutored many happy students, and annoyed people over the years by asking "how do you say that?".

From his young years surrounded by speakers of three different dialects of Italian, to university in France and German and extensive work in Asia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Robert has picked up languages and breathed in the cuisines of many countries. Translating from 27 languages into English, Robert is a repository of anecdotal and factual information about languages of all sorts which adds flavor and depth to the Language Chef.

An expert amateur cook, Robert has worked in Paris in small bistro, made pizzas in Florence, wrangled recipes out of the hands of German grandmothers in the Black Forest, worked in a Chinese restaurant and had ad hoc cooking lessons in restaurants in China, Taiwan and Japan as well as various Chinatowns. Most importantly, Robert, his mom and dad, two grandmothers and lots of aunts from Italy have made culinary magic in their kitchens for generations.
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