Tainan Style Noodles
Ta-a noodles, danzi noodles or Tainan Style Noodles is a 130 year old noodle snack that dates back to the late Qing dynasty. Found in Tainan, Taiwan this noodles are usually made with minced pork, prawns, bean sprouts and noodles, also called the “Slack Season Ta-a Noodles” these noodles traditionally were served during the typhoon seasons where fishing is proved to be dangerous, these times were called the “slack seasons” and ingredients that were not fish are commonly used like this noodle.
Credited to a fisherman named Hong Yutou, he sells these noodles when he was 20 years old to earn money during the typhoon season by peddling on streets while he carry them on shoulder poles. It then proved to be popular with the locals it ended his fishing career and selling this noodles become his main occupation, he then settled by setting up a stall in front of Tainan Chuisian Temple and the rest was history.
The ingredients of this dish is well known but each establishment and/or individual who regularly prepares them uses them with different amounts and these are a well-guarded secret and usually is not shared. While I am no expert in Taiwanese cuisine the recipe below is a combination of different recipes I saw and the flavour profiles that I tasted and here is my take on it.
- Roast or grill shrimp heads and tails until very fragrant. Place them in a soup pot together with any drippings, add 10 cups of water and boil then simmer in low heat partially covered for 45 minutes. Add the prawns during the last minute to cook then set the prawns aside.
- Strain broth in a smaller pot and then season to taste with fish sauce.
- In a wok add lard then add pork mince and cook until it’s not pink, push pork on the side then add shallots and garlic, sauté for a minute then combine with the pork, cook for 5 minutes.
- Pour soy sauce with 1 cup of water then bring to a boil. Simmer in medium heat until the sauce thickens, this will take around 10 minutes.
- Blanch the bean sprouts then set aside.
- Cook noodles according to packet instructions, then place it on serving bowls together with the bean sprouts, spring onions and cilantro. Pour hot soup on top and a generous serve of the minced pork sauce. Place prawns on top then serve.