Editor's note: As interest in Yunnan cuisine increases around China and the rest of the world, GoKunming contributor Guo Duomi will occasionally offer recipes for traditional Yunnan dishes. If there is a certain dish you would like to see a recipe for, please send us your ideas via our contact form.
Across the bridge noodles - Guoqiao mixian (过桥米线)
Yunnan's most famous dish is definitely across the bridge noodles. The story behind the rice noodle dish basically goes that a scholar retired to an island in Mengzi to study for the imperial exams. His wife would bring him lunch every day by crossing a bridge but by the time she got there his food would be cold. She discovered that keeping a layer of oil on top of a bowl of soup would keep the broth hot enough for him to cook the ingredients when she arrived.
The dish, just like the story, has numerous variations but the basic elements remain the same. Many restaurants in Kunming will offer you the dish at different price levels, the more you pay the more (and more expensive) ingredients you get.
A few small slices of:
Ham (Xuanwei ham can be used)
2 quail eggs
1 small bok choy
2 stalks of spring onion
Small bunch of coriander
50g Chinese mushrooms
200g fresh rice noodles**
Large pot of chicken stock
* Tofu skin is usually available for purchase as dried sheets which need to reconstitute in water prior to use.
** Thick round rice noodles are traditionally used in this recipe. If using dried rice noodles they will need to be pre-cooked before making the dish.
Wash and chop up the bok choy and slice the Chinese mushrooms. Chop up the green sections of the spring onion into long lengths, discarding the bulb, and chop up the coriander. Place each of the ingredients on a separate small dish, including cracking the quail eggs into a dish.
Fill a large bowl to about ¾ full with the Chicken stock – if it is not an oily stock you can add a little extra oil to ensure you have a good film on the surface.
Cart the bowl of soup plus other ingredients across a bridge to a small island or from the kitchen to your dining table.
The dish is then 'cooked' at the table – in Yunnan restaurants a waiter or waitress may do this for you. The meat is placed in the pot first, followed by the eggs, mushrooms and noodles. This should all be cooked through within a few minutes. Finally the peanuts, green onion and coriander are added as a garnish.
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