Hot Dry Noodles – the most famous snack in Wuhan

hot dry noodles

Hot dry noodles (热干面), one of the most renowned snacks in Wuhan, stand out distinctively from cold noodles and soup noodles. The noodles are initially boiled until about 80% cooked, then removed, drizzled with sesame oil, tossed and cooled down. When ready to serve, they are blanched in boiling water, then topped with sesame paste, spicy radish cubes, scallions, braised meat sauce, salt, soy sauce, pepper, monosodium glutamate, and ideally a splash of vinegar. The noodles are slender, smooth yet chewy, drenched in a flavorful sauce, boasting a yellow hue with a glossy sheen, fragrant and delectable. Due to their high calorie content, they can also serve as a staple food, providing a nutritious breakfast to replenish the body’s energy needs.

Hot dry noodles, alongside Shanxi knife-cut noodles, Guangdong Yi Fu noodles, Sichuan Dan Dan noodles, and Henan stewed noodles, are collectively known as the “Five Famous Noodles of China,” representing a diverse range of breakfast snacks.

The origins of hot dry noodles trace back to the early 1930s on Changdi Street in Hankou, where Cai Mingwei, a vendor selling soup noodles, introduced a remarkable innovation. Cai, a native of Huangpi County, was renowned for his delicious soup noodles, which often attracted long queues of customers. To expedite his sales, Cai ingeniously devised a technique called “dusting the noodles,” wherein he precooked the noodles until partially done, rapidly cooled them, and evenly coated them with oil. This method significantly hastened the noodle-serving process. One day, while observing a sesame oil mill on Changdi Street, Cai noticed the surplus sesame paste left aside after extracting the oil, emitting a tantalizing aroma. Inspired, he decided to incorporate the sesame paste into his noodles. After numerous trials, he perfected the recipe, receiving rave reviews from those around him. Confident in his creation, he introduced his new product to the market. Thus, hot dry noodles—the beloved snack of the people of Wuhan—were born. Initially named “sesame paste noodles” by Cai Mingwei, it wasn’t until its official registration in 1950 that it was formally called “hot dry noodles.”

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