Citizens – 过桥米线 (Guoqiao mixian) is one of the legendary soups of Yunnan province – a true classic recipe of Chinese gastronomy! 🙂
The origin of this recipe is both touching and intriguing: legend has it that South Lake in Mengzi County, Yunnan Province, China once boasted a great many literary scholars who worked hard to become officials. One of them was a gentleman with the last name of Yang. Yang went to read books and study for his examinations at a pavilion located in the middle of the lake that could only be reached by a long bridge. Although his wife would always take him something to eat, Yang was always so deep into his studies that he often forgot to enjoy his wife’s food.
By the time he would remember, the food had already become cold, and his health deteriorated. One day, much concerned about her husband, the wife killed a hen, and cooked it in a pottery pot along with some rice noodles. Then, she took the chicken, noodles and soup to her husband. After a while, she came back to clean up. However, what she saw was the food left untouched by her husband who was intently concentrating on his book.
With a sigh, she decided to heat it for her husband to eat later, but to her surprise, the pot was still warm when she touched it. Uncovering the pot, she found a layer of chicken fat floating atop the soup, which together with the pottery container helped preserve the heat. From then on, she cooked in this way and her husband was always able to eat hot food during his diligent studies. Thanks to her, his health was saved and he passed the government examinations to become a great leader. Later, many people cooked rice noodles in the wife’s innovative way, and found them truly delicious and thus a classic recipe was born.
My version of the recipe is especially rich with meats and complexity with a few unique techniques thrown in for good measure. Citizens, I believe you will find this a delicious new treat to serve to your own scholar-in-training, your family or yourself. It’s the soup that literally eats like a meal! 😉
Battle on – The Generalissimo
For the stock:
1 three pound chicken, cut into pieces
¼ duck or twelve ounces of duck meat
3 meaty pork bones
1 dried licorice root (optional, available in Chinese grocery stores)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
8 cups chicken broth, or more as needed
¼ pound pork filet, sliced as thin as possible
¼ pound firm fish such as catfish, sliced as thin as possible
4 dried Shitake mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water, stems removed and sliced very thinly – reserve soaking water
4 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon soy sauce
5 tablespoons chicken fat
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon chili oil
3 Tablespoons sliced leek, white part only
1 scallion, minced
½ pound rice noodles – Thick round rice noodles are traditionally used in this recipe. Egg noodles, while not traditional, are also delicious
chopped fresh coriander, for garnish
12 hard boiled Quail Eggs, for garnish (available canned in Chinese grocery stores)
thinly sliced Smithfield ham, for garnish
thinly sliced Spinach, for garnish
thinly sliced Sichuan Preserved Vegetable, for garnish
The Hirshon dipping sauce:
5 hot red chilies such as fresnos
1 large garlic clove
125 ml (½ cup) peanut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
60 ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup minced cilantro
Put chicken, duck, pork bones, and optional licorice root and Sichuan peppercorns in a large pot and cover with chicken stock. Boil the contents for ten minutes, then turn heat off and allow to cool. When cool, remove meat from bones, and slice the various meats not already sliced as thinly as possible. Discard all bones, the licorice root and peppercorns and reserve all liquid, fat included.
Bring stock back to the boil. In another pot of water, add the mushroom soaking liquid, bring to the boil and cook the rice noodles for two minutes, then drain. In separate bowls (one per person) add all the sliced meats and all other ingredients including noodles but not the garnishes. Add boiling stock, stir well, add garnishes, wait two minutes to let the ingredients cook and serve.
While the soup is cooking the meat, combine all dipping sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender and serve to allow people to dip the sliced meats into it.