Long ago, just south of the Yunnan city of Mengzixian (蒙自县)…. There was a beautiful lake with water as clear as jade. In the center of the lake, there was a small island covered in green bamboo saplings and giant trees whose ancient stalks reached the heavens.
Known for its natural beauty and pleasant atmosphere, the small island drew many neighboring scholars seeking a tranquil place to study for the imperial exams. Among these scholars was a particularly diligent student who spent many days studying on the island. Every day, his wife made the long walk to the lake, crossing the bridge to the island to bring him his midday meal.
However, he was frequently so engrossed in his studies that he only remembered to eat long after the food had grown cold. Due to his irregular eating habits, the scholar became noticeably thin and his warmhearted wife grew very worried.
One day, she had an idea. She butchered a plump hen to make a hot chicken soup, and separately prepared her husband’s favorite local rice noodles, seasonings, and ingredients. She brought them over the bridge in different bowls, combining them just before he was ready to eat.
On it’s own, the chicken broth stayed hot enough to cook the noodles and other ingredients, and created a thin layer of oil that kept the whole bowl piping hot. It worked. The scholar loved the hot noodle soup, and the wife started crossing the bridge everyday with these bowls. Eventually, the scholar succeeded in passing the imperial exams and, remembering his wife’s great kindness and hospitality, joked that it was his wife’s wonderful noodles that helped him pass the prestigious and famously difficult exams.
Today, guoqiao mixian (过桥米线) is still considered a Yunnan specialty—and it still comes in separate bowls, allowing you to pick your ingredients and add the hot soup yourself.
In Yunnan, this dish is so popular that there are restaurant chains that specialize exclusively in varieties of guoqiao mixian. It can be found anywhere from street-side noodle shops to high-end banquet-style restaurants.
My version of Cross Bridge Rice Noodles ( Serve 4 - 5 )
Ingredients for the broth
1 piece chicken breast meat
6 pieces chicken wings
1 chicken carcass - chopped
1 in ginger
1 stalk spring onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/ Wash the chicken wings, breast meat and chicken carcass.
2/ Bring 1/ 2 pot of water to boil, put in the chicken meat and bone, let it boil for 5 mins.
3/ Remove from stove, discard the water and rinse the chicken meat and bone.
4/ Boil 6 to 8 cups of water, add salt, ginger, garlic, spring onion and chicken meat. In between skim off the foam.
5/ Boil the chicken wings and breast meat for 20 mins. Scoop out the chicken wings and keep aside. Shred the chicken breast meat, keep aside.
6/ For the broth, add 2 tbsp shaoxing wine, dash of pepper, salt and pepper to taste. ( Add more water if not enough broth. )
Ingredients for the noodles
1/2 packet dried rice noodles
400gm medium size prawn
4 slices of ham
1 packet fish balls
1 tube of egg tofu - cut
6 leaves of chinese cabbage
2 bunch of lettuce
50gm bean sprout
1 piece Sichuan preserves vegetable ( Za chai )
1 stalk spring onion - chopped coarsely
1/ Peel the prawn and devine. Season with 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp soya sauce, 1 tsp shauxing wine and dash of pepper. Chill in fridge.
2/ Blanch the fish ball in hot water for 2 mins. Drain off the water and keep aside.
3/ Wash the ham with hot water and slice thinly.
4/ Slice the pork thinly, season with 1/2 tsp corn flour and 1 tsp soya sauce. Keep aside.
5/ Pluck off the bean sprout tail, wash and drain.
6/ Cut the Chinese cabbage to about 1/2 in wide.
8/ Scoop out some broth to a smaller pot, bring to boil. Throw in the slice pork, give a quick stir and boil for 30 seconds. Scoop out the cooked pork and keep aside. Then boil the prawn for 1 min, scoop out and keep aside.
9/ Bring half pot of water to boil, blanch the noodles until cook. Drain off the water and keep aside.
10/ Arrange all the ingredients in serving plate.
After dinner, if nothing better to do enjoy Lychee ice cream
2 cups milk
1 canned lychee
1 cup lychee syrup from the can
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp corn flour
3/4 cup fresh cream
1 tsp lychee essence
1/ Mix 1 cup of milk, lychee syrup and corn flour to make a smooth paste.
2/ Next combine another cup of milk and sugar in a pot and bring it to boil.
3/ Beat the egg lightly, pour the hot milk slowly to temper the egg and mix well.
4/ Add the number 1 mixture to the egg mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes, on a simmer flame.
5/ When the mixture starts to coat at the back of the spoon, remove from heat and let it cool.
7/ Now, pour this mixture in a shallow container, cover it and let it freeze till it is almost set.
8/ When it is set, add the lychee and blend in food processor/ blender till it is smooth.
9/ Now, put this mixture back in the shallow container and freeze again till 50% set, take out from freezer and blend again. Repeat 3 times to break the ice crystal.
10/ Freeze until set, scoop out in a serving glass, top with extra lychee and enjoy.
Have a fabulous week ahead. Cheers!