Chinese New Year is an opportunity to honour family and friends, and to enjoy some culinary traditions. It is the longest Chinese holiday that can last fifteen to sixteen days if you include Lunar New Year’s Eve.
Whether you celebrate it or are just a Chinese food lover, I would like to take this opportunity to mention some things that probably you did not know about noodles, especially vermicelli type.
- Chinese see food as symbolic and vermicelli noodles are considered a lucky food.
- An ancient Chinese belief says that long noodles are the key to a long life, so do not cut them as you eat them.
- The translation of the word “Vermicelli” is actually “little worms”. Well, it may not have the most appetizing name, but these extra-thin noodles are quick-cooking and good with countless flavours, as proven by the fact they are used all around the world in meals from breakfast to deserts and in hot or cold dishes.
- There are not clear answers even to where the story of vermicelli began. In Italy, as the Tuscan name suggest or in China as countless Marco Polo stories would suggest. I can only conjecture, that the vermicelli made its way into India through trade with the Arab world that connected the West with East for so many hundred years, and as a result imbibing within its fold so many culinary treasures.
- Spanning across many regions of the world, these thin noodles have many variations, most of them gluten free and some others made with durum wheat and other ingredients.
- There are also various types of thin noodles from Asia or a thicker version of vermicelli in Italy and other regions of the world, being the most popular the following:
Italian (plain “Vermicelli”)
This is the oldest form of pasta originating in Campania. As you might expect, from durum wheat flour, and can be used like any other pasta, especially spaghetti, or angel hair; the only thing separating one from another is the degree of thinness.
Mexican fideos (which is the Spanish word for "noodles") are similar to Italian vermicelli in shape and ingredients (wheat flour), but they are cut shorter before being packaged and are often eaten in soups or added to rice previously toasted in oil for a richer flavour.
Asian (aka "rice vermicelli")
They are made from rice flour, which explain why you may also find them labelled as rice noodles (and rice sticks are the same thing ingredient and taste wise, but wider and flatter in shape).
Cellophane or Glass Noodles
These types of Asian vermicelli are made of different ingredients such as mung bean starch, potato starch, sweet potato starch, tapioca or canna starch and water. Once cooked they look clear instead of white. Their texture is softer and more gelatinous than rice vermicelli.
These thin strands of Indian transparent noodles are made with a texture of corn starch and water which is then cooked to form a thick, shiny mixture that s passed through a bhujia maker to form thin noodles or falooda sev.