What is a classic dish? Something traditional? Something that has survived through time that this ever-changing culture does not get tired of? Something so good, and so true to an identity that it has been stamped with a "no further modification needed"? Classic dishes live among all cuisine, and for the Cantonese, this Pan-fried Noodles with Soy Sauce (豉油皇炒麵) is definitely one of them.
Noodle is everything in a lot of Asian people's diet. Okay, a majority if not everything. I had recently pointed out my love for noodles. And if you must know, I eat some sort of noodle at least once a week (twice, if you count pasta). Anyway. What I admire about dishes like the pan-fried noodles with soy sauce is that it holds the ability to keep its cool over the years, sort of like flying low under the radar. The dish has not changed and very rarely you'd get a modified version. Pan-fried noodles with soy sauce is as basic and simple as a stir-fried noodle dish can get. There're only four things you need to make this authentic dish: egg noodles (either dried or fresh), bean sprouts, scallions, and soy sauce. (Well, two kinds of soy sauce.) It's not a fancy dish, and it doesn't need to be. Ever.
If you're traveling to the "kong", you'll come across pan-fried noodles with soy sauce in a lot of places. Almost all jau lau 酒樓 (big restaurants that can hold lots of banquet-size tables and mainly serving Cantonese cuisine and Dim Sum), Da Pai Dong, Cha Chaan Teng, fast food places like Café de Coral (大家樂) or Fairwood (大快活), and congee shops. Congee is pretty much the partner in crime to pan-fried noodles with soy sauce. The perfect match for locals who prefer a Chinese breakfast today because a western style breakfast was eaten yestetday.
Many Asian cultures eat noodle or rice for breakfast. Singaporean has their bee hoon, and Vietnamese has their bun. In Cantonese, calling someone a "rice bucket" simply means that person eats a lot of rice. I'm definitely the noodle version. Does that make me a "noodle bucket"? That just sounds ridiculous.
Pan-fried Noodles with Soy Sauce
- ½ lb egg noodles, dried or fresh (pan-fried not wonton noodles)
- 3 stalks of scallion, cut into 1" pieces
- ½ cup bean sprouts, rinsed
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp regular soy sauce
- Some oil
- If using dried egg noodles, blanch them in hot water first until el a dante. It'll take about 3 mins after water has boiled. Drain, and set aside.
- In a hot pan, add 2 tbsp of oil. Rotate the pan to spread oil throughout the cooking surface. Add noodles and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently with a pair of chopsticks or tongs. Then add scallion, bean sprouts, and both kind of soy sauce. Stir and cook for 4 more minutes. Serve immediately.
If you encounter dryness while cooking the noodles, add water 1 tbsp at a time.