Long Life Noodles, also known as yi mein, is a staple on the buffet table at any Chinese event because of the significance they hold in Chinese culture.
I mean, who doesn’t want to live forever? Any kind of long noodle serves as a metaphor for life span, but Yi Mein adds a touch of festivity and tradition.
Long life noodles are a staple at celebrations of life’s milestones, including birthdays, new babies, weddings, and the lunar new year feast. However, the long life noodles served at Chinese banquets tend to be a little bland and soggy because of the quantity they are cooked in. For this reason, making them at home is well worth the effort. Typically accompanied by mushrooms and/or Chinese garlic chives, these noodles are a pleasantly straightforward option.
The use of sodium bicarbonate or soda water in the dough gives Yi Mein its distinctive texture and flavor, making it a popular noodle choice. The noodles are deep-fried before being dried, giving them a distinctive flavor and a slightly spongy texture.
Here’s how to produce long life noodles that aren’t just nutritious but delicious, too, for all your various long life needs. Alright, let’s get going.
- 12 ounces of dry Yi Mein noodles
- 8 ounces of Chinese chives (cut into 2-inch long piece)
- 5 thinly sliced fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3 quarts water
- 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon of hot water
- 2 teaspoons of regular soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon of sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- Freshly ground white pepper
- In a big wok or saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil to use in precooking the Yi Mein noodles. Toss the noodles into the boiling water. Noodles should be boiled for no more than three to four minutes; the package may call for five, but any longer and they’ll lose their hard, chewy texture.
- Try a noodle while it cooks; it’s done when the flavor is closer to the raw side of al dente pasta. Soak the noodles in cold water until ready to use, then drain and set aside.
- Add the ordinary soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper to the sugar and salt that you have dissolved in 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Mix together by stirring for a while.
- The wok should be heated until the oil begins to smoke, and then 2 teaspoons of oil should be evenly distributed over the outer edge.
- Stir-fry the mushrooms and the chives’ light green for 30 seconds. If the mushrooms appear dry, add another tablespoon of oil since they will absorb it like sponges.
- Put in the noodles, which should be hot but dry, and stir-fry for another 20 seconds. If the noodles have cooled, simmer them for a few more minutes to reheat them before adding the sauce.
- Mix the soy sauce and sugar and spread them equally over the noodles. Stir-fry the mixture for 1 minute. To avoid food from sticking to the sides of the wok, add more oil as needed (up to another tablespoon). The amount of oil you use is entirely up to you.
- Drizzle some oil directly over the noodles if they begin to stick together. If, after adding the sauce, you still find the noodles to be too dry, a small amount of boiling water can be added.
- Don’t overmix, or the noodles will break; remember, you want them to be nice and long to bring good fortune to the eater!
- Stir in the remaining chives’ green bits and cook together with the warmed noodles until the chives turn a vibrant green. Depending on the heat of your fire and wok, and whether or not your noodles were cold when you started stir frying, this could take anywhere from one to three minutes.