One of my earliest food memories is shrimp in rice roll noodles at Mei Lei Wah in Chinatown. Slippery, sweet and savory—they sparked a love affair with Chinese food and proved to be good chopstick training.
Served two or three to a plate, cheung fen, whether beef or shrimp remained a dim sum favorite for many years. When I moved to Queens I discovered other varieties, including the wonderful hun jiang chang fen, or mixed sauce rice roll noodle. It’s a simple pleasure consisting of the rolled up noodles, peanut and sweet sauces, and little else. They’ve become a staple of my Flushing Chinatown food tours.
When the carb craving hits I order zhaliang from the dim sum trolley. It consists of the rice roll noodle wrapped around a you tiao, or fried cruller. Recently a friend introduced me to a decidedly healthier off-menu veggie version: yim shui cheung fen, which stars cilantro. We had it at Good Kitchen, though odds are you can find it at most dim sum parlors throughout New York City.
“Are you trying to pick it up, or get more sauce?” she asked as I sloshed the greenest cheong fen ever around the plate. “More sauce,” I responded before ferrying the rice roll to my mouth.
Here’s what I’d like to know: How do you rice roll? Beef, shrimp, or perhaps some as yet unknown to me variety? Let me know in the comments!