Yunnan province, the star in western China is popular for rice noodles and other rice products (like er Kuai) and this one enjoys the highest popularity among the locals.
Thinking of Yunnan rice noodle, the first thing might be cross the bridge (过桥米线), rice noodles are served with lots of side ingredients and a bowl of hot stock. That one is more complicated and dedicated, and thus more famous in other places but this XiaoGuo (小锅米线) is more home friendly and humble, using very easy to find and cheap ingredients. Last winter when I visited my favorite place, Yunnan, I ate this xiaoguo rice noodles almost everyday.
We have similar situation in my hometown, where dan dan noodles are more famous but the local loves Mala Xiaomian. Xiao indicates the amount but also the humble and cheap ingredients.
This one is my own favorite way of making a Xiaoguo rice noodles. The original version used pickled mustard as the main source of sour taste, but I add tomatoes to further rice the flavor.
Pickled mustard green (酸菜) or sometimes cabbage is a great ingredients for soups. It presents a lovely sour taste with the help of lactic acid bacteria. Homemade pickled mustard green is even better because of the multiple groups of bacteria. You can purchase the packaged or make your town pickled mustard green with this instruction. If this ingredient is too hard to achieve, you can substitute it with other pickles, like pickled cabbage (kimchi) or pickled radishes.
Yunnan Small Pot Rice Noodles
- 1 cup minced pork
- 2 servings rice noodle , 150g dried rice noodle or 300g fresh ones
- 50 g Chinese chive , cut into small sections
- 50 g soy bean sprouts
- 1 middle size tomato , finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. vegetable cooking oil
- 100g pickled cabbage or mustard green , chopped
- 1400 ml water or stock , around 6 cups
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- 1 tsp. salt or to taste
- 3 tbsp. light soy sauce , divided
- chili oil for drizzling
- Soak dried rice noodle with cold water for at least 4 hours (recommend soaking it overnight).
- Remove the hard ends of chive and then cut into long sections. Finely chop tomato and pickled mustard green.
- Heat oil and then fry minced pork and chopped garlic until crispy and golden brown. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and salt. Mix well and then transfer ½ of the minced pork out.
- Place the pickled mustard green and tomatoes in, fry for 2-3 minutes until aromatic. Then pour in water. Remember to remove large foams after boiled
- Add 2 tablespoon of light soy sauce and salt to season the soup. Then place the soaked rice noodles in. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add bean sprouts and and chives. Cook until the soup boils again. Transfer to serving pot.
- Add the remaining minced pork and drizzle red oil. Serve hot!
I'm from Kunming, Yunnan and even though I left for the US when I was 6 years old, xiaoguo mixian is a food I still crave regularly. The only place I've seen it sold is in NYC with its large Chinese population. I'm in Atlanta now and even though there are a few restaurants selling Yunnan style rice noodles, they only sell "gouqiao mixian". I'm using quotes because I haven't had good gouqiao mixian in over 35 years.
Even in Kunming, all the locals complain that gouqiao mixian isn't nearly as good as it used to be. According to my dad, the broth was made from small farm pork, chicken and Yunnan's xianwei ham. And, it came with a yellow layer of fat on top. Nowadays I don't think restaurants are using anything other than cheap factory chicken and msg for their stock and there certainly isn't any fat in the broth any more. The flavor just isn't nearly as good.
Anyway, this is a great recipe for xiaoguo mixian. You are right that tomatoes are not traditional, but my uncle started adding tomatoes to his recipe a few years ago and they are a terrific addition.
The only thing I do different is I season the ground pork before frying. I usually use soy sauce, salt and pepper and a little rice wine.
I've never seen pickled greens at my store. I hope I can find them. This looks amazing.
Yes, this version is really amazing.
If you can't find them, consider making your own! You just take a napa cabbage, and cut it in half. Cut that half into eight pieces, and start packing salt between the leaves. I find kosher salt works best, but picking salt works fine, too. Soon the cabbage will start to wilt, and is soft enough to roll in on itself. Once that happens, you can pack it into a jar. Pack as much cabbage as you can into a mason jar. I do two cabbages at a time, so I use a half gallon jar. A while cabbage typically fits into a quart jar. It's going to seem like it won't all fit, just keep packing it in there. You might have to leave it for an hour and come back to pack the rest in. Then just seal it tight and leave it on your counter for a couple of weeks. Open it up every now and again to let the extra gas out. After two weeks, it's going to look, smell, and taste exactly the same as sauerkraut, just made from a more delicate cabbage. This is good as a side dish, in soups, with greasy meats, breaded and deep fried, or even just as a light snack. If you're interested, but that all sounded really confusing, there's a detailed video by Magic Ingredients on YouTube.