The Unseen Delight of Biǎndòu mèn miàn (扁豆焖面)
The realm of culinary delights is vast and varied, and within it resides a hidden gem known as Biǎndòu mèn miàn (扁豆焖面), or the harmonious combination of steamed noodles paired with green beans. While this dish may not grace the menus of bustling eateries, it holds a special place on the dining tables of many homes. The true allure of this culinary masterpiece lies in the art of steaming, which imparts an irresistible chewiness to the noodles, elevating them to new heights of gastronomic pleasure.
What Sets This Recipe Apart
You might question, what makes a simple combination of noodles and green beans so extraordinary? The charm of this recipe lies in its simplicity and the distinct method of preparation. The noodles are steamed to attain a perfectly al dente texture, paired with green beans and savory seared pork, all simmered in a flavorful sauce.
While timing remains a crucial factor in any culinary creation, this dish becomes a delightful solution for an abundance of green beans from the garden. We have earlier introduced 焖饭(“men fan”) using a rice cooker. With today’s 焖面(men mian), the culinary experience in your kitchen is set for an exciting transformation. You’re encouraged to modify the recipe to your preference, but remember, fresh noodles are non-negotiable for this dish!
For the Pork Marinade:
- 8 ounces pork belly (substitutes: boneless pork shoulder or chicken thighs)
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
For the Main Dish:
- 1 pound fresh white noodles
- 3 tablespoons oil (divided)
- 3 slices ginger (julienned)
- 3 star anise
- 5 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
- 3 dried red chilies (coarsely chopped, optional)
- 2 chopped scallions
- 1 pound green beans (trimmed and halved)
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water
- Begin by marinating the meat with the marinade ingredients. Let it rest for 20 minutes as you prepare the rest of the components. Setup a steamer ensuring the water won’t touch the noodles during steaming.
- On the steaming rack, spread a large sheet of parchment paper, loosely scatter the noodles on it. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil and lightly toss the noodles. Steam for 10-12 minutes over high heat (timing may vary based on noodle thickness). Remove and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over medium heat. Add ginger and star anise, cooking for 30 seconds. Add garlic, chilies (if using), and scallions, and stir-fry for a minute. Add the marinated pork and increase the heat to high. Stir-fry until the pork is opaque, then spread it out in a single layer to brown (30 seconds to a minute).
- Introduce the green beans and cook for a couple of minutes. Incorporate dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and sugar. Stir well and add water. Layer the steamed noodles on top (avoid stirring), cover, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Uncover the wok to find the liquid slightly reduced. Lower the heat, and combine all ingredients to ensure the noodles are well coated with the sauce. The sauce should quickly soak into the noodles. Serve hot and enjoy immediately.
Fun fact: Steaming is a common cooking technique in East Asian cuisine, particularly in Chinese dishes. It preserves the nutritional value of ingredients better than other methods such as boiling or frying. Plus, it contributes to the texture of the food, making it soft and chewy. So, the next time you wonder why certain Asian dishes are steamed, remember, it’s not just for the taste but also for health benefits!