Chinese homestyle recipe: A delicious noodle dish from Wuhan

Society & Culture

While Wuhan may have gain notoriety in the West for the coronavirus, those in the know think of its amazing food and culture when they think of Wuhan. Here's a popular dish that you'll love making.

This weekly food column is done in collaboration with the Beijing-based project and event company The Hutong, which is currently running a cook-at-home competition called Quarantine Cook-Off.

Wuhan Hot Dry Noodles 武汉热干面 Wǔhàn rè gān miàn

Wuhan hot dry noodles (热干面 rè gān miàn) has been a favorite of Wuhan’s culinary culture since the 1930s. Although more recent than other traditional noodle dishes, this popular breakfast fare from Hubei’s capital is noted for its simple cooking method and its rich flavors that combine spicy, salty, sour, and nutty tastes.

Wuhan has long and hot summers, and in order to preserve food, the locals pickle vegetables, smoke and cure meats, and use alkaline water to add texture to their noodles. You can find all these ingredients and techniques in the hot dry noodles.

Hot dry noodles literally refers to how the dish is served: “hot” (热 ) means the noodles will be served hot and steaming, “dry” (干 gān) indicates there’s no soup in the noodles, and the noodle (面 miàn) used is typically wheat-based.

One interesting aspect of these noodles is the use of alkaline water (碱水 jiǎn shuǐ) in the preparation. At home, you could also use fresh Ramen or any dried noodles.

Let’s take a look at how to cook this simple yet mouthwatering dish.


(Serves 4)

  • 400g dried noodles (挂面  guà miàn)
  • 100g pickled spicy radish (辣萝卜干 là luóbo gān)
  • 100g pickled sour beans (酸豆角 suān dòujiǎo)
  • 4-5 tbsp sesame paste (芝麻酱 zhīmajiàng)
  • tsp dark soy sauce (老抽 lǎochōu)
  • tsp chili oil (辣椒油 làjiāo yóu)
  • 4-5 tbsp sesame oil (香油 xiāngyóu)
  • 4  stalks spring onion, green part (小葱叶 xiǎocōngyè)
  • 4  stalks spring onion, white part (葱白 cōngbái)
  • 4 cloves garlic ( suàn)
  • 1-2 tsp salt or according to taste ( yán)
  • 1 pinch white pepper powder (白胡椒粉 bái hújiāo fěn)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar or according to taste ( táng)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (植物油 zhíwùyóu)
  • 4 -5 tbsp stock (chicken or vegetable) — make the stock separately (see below), though water can also be used

Chicken or vegetable stock (amounts listed below make about 500 mL of stock)

  • 250g chicken thigh or mushroom (鸡腿 jītuǐ / 蘑菇 mógū)
  • 4 pieces of spring onion white part (葱白 cōngbái)
  • pieces garlic ( suàn)
  • 5g ginger in pieces ( jiāng)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (茴香籽 huíxiāngzǐ)
  • bay leaves (香叶 xiāngyè)
  • 1tsp Sichuan peppercorn (花椒 huājiāo)
  • 1 piece of cardamom (草果 cǎoguǒ)
  • 1 small piece cinnamon (肉桂 ròuguì)
  • tsp cooking wine (料酒 liàojiǔ)
  • 1tbsp dark sauce (老抽 lǎochōu)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar or according to taste ( táng)

Chili oil

  • tbsp chili powder
  • 6-8 tbsp vegetable oil


Chop the pickles into small pieces for later use.

Garlic water: mince 4 cloves of garlic and soak in about 4-6 tbsp of warm water for later use.

Separate the spring onion’s white and green parts. Put the white part aside.

Slice the green part into small pieces, but do not mince the leaf of the green stalk.

Slice the ginger into thick pieces.

Making the stock:

Heat 2 tbsp of oil at low heat. 

Add the spring onion’s white part, the sliced garlic, and ginger pieces. 

Fry until fragrant. 

Add cooking wine, then add all the dried spices: Sichuan peppercorn, bay leaves, fennel seeds, cardamom, cinnamon. 

Fry for about 30 seconds. 

Add 2 cups of water. 

Mix in dark soy sauce and sugar. 

Add the chicken thigh or mushrooms

Take away any foam and simmer for about half an hour.

Strain all the ingredients from the stock and leave the stock for later use.

Chicken can be served as a side dish.

Making the chili oil:

Put the chili powder in a ceramic bowl. 

Heat oil in wok at medium heat. 

When the oil starts to smoke, turn the flame off. 

Add the hot oil to the dried chili powder with a spoon, one spoon at a time, all the while stirring.

Preparing the noodles, part 1:

Bring a pot of water to a boil. 

Add a teaspoon of salt. 

Add the dried noodles into the boiling water for about 2 minutes, until half-cooked.

Drain the noodles using a colander

Quickly add the vegetable oil to the noodles.

Toss the noodle thoroughly, making sure it doesn’t stick.

Let the noodles cool completely.

Preparing the sauce: 

Mix sesame paste and sesame oil until the mixture becomes smooth and runny.

Add dark soy sauce, salt, sugar according to taste.

Preparing the noodles, part 2:

Bring a pot of water to boil again. 

Add the cool noodles to the boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute

Drain and divide into 4 bowls.

Combine everything together and serve:

Put the pickled radishes and sour beans, sliced spring onion (green part), and garlic water on top of the noodles.

Pour 2-3 tbsp of sesame paste sauce on top, and 1-2 tbsp of stock.

Mix well, and serve warm.


Noodles: Authentic Re Gan Mian noodles require alkaline pasta, which are easy to find in Wuhan but maybe not elsewhere. Our recipe uses dried noodles instead, as they’re similar in texture.

Stock: In Wuhan, locals usually use beef to make the stock, boiling it at a low flame for more than 90 minutes. A vegetable stock can be made as a substitute, using assorted vegetables or just mushrooms, boiling it at low flame for 30 minutes.

Sesame paste: In China, sesame paste is made from roasted sesame and sometimes mixed with peanut paste. Making Chinese sesame paste is different from tahini. In Wuhan, locals often use black sesame paste for this dish, using sesame oil to thin the paste. If it is not easy for you to find sesame paste, you can use peanut butter instead. If you don’t want too much oil in the noodles, you can use less sesame oil and add more water to thin the paste. Click here for more information about Chinese sesame paste.

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