With the development of e-commerce and the infrastructure to deliver, we can order daily ingredients from remote regions where the air and water are clean, and the quality is assured. This week, we recommended Nan-shizhao.taobao.com, a small online food store specializing in products from Rui’an, a township city near Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. The owners are a young couple. Su Nan, a 27-year-old woman from Jiangsu Province, moved to the hometown of her boyfriend in his native Rui’an last year.
She realized the place was filled with delicious eats. Shamian, a kind of fine and thin noodle that hangs in the yard like yarn threads, is the region’s specialty. “It doesn’t have a chewy texture,” Su said. The water used to boil the noodles should be discarded afterwards, as they require lots of salt. Adding a little bit of yellow rice wine, mixed with minced ginger, mushroom and pork, makes it taste delicious. The store sells shamian starting from 400 grams (14.6 yuan), enough for two people.
When the couple planned to open an online store, they decided to work with only the best. The traditional way of making food has its own way of paying respect to nature, Su said. Shamian is made of flour and salt, the degree of which varies according to the weather. Humidity has a strong impact on the noodle’s texture. Normally, the villagers start by making paste after lunch. At 7 am the next morning, they’re hung to dry.
When the weather is good, the noodles are hung for two to four hours. A worker has to watch at the site to make sure the noodles don’t get too dry, otherwise they will crack and break. The farmers that Su’s store use can only make 40 kilograms per day, compared to some families that can produce 70 kilograms. This way, Su knows each batch is done right. Currently, the store only sells shamian, six dried vegetables, two kinds of dried seafood and homemade ginger wine. “We’re understaffed right now,” Su said. The store’s ginger wine (16.8 yuan for 350 grams) comes recommended. For most Chinese fried dishes, ginger is like garlic: you add some in heated oil before adding other ingredients to the wok.
Ginger wine is a common daily ingredient in the Wenzhou area. The ginger is fried for 40 minutes with homemade sticky rice wine. As the procedure is complicated, many families do not fry their own ginger wine anymore. The store works with a farmer who has been frying ginger for 20 years. His ginger wine is aromatic but mild in taste. “The town is located in a mountainous area and isn’t the easiest to get to,” she said. Although the villagers use clean spring water to makefood, people outside don’t realize it until they taste the difference. After Su moved out there, they had many friends who visited and loved the local food. They suggested that Su open an online store. There’s lots of competition, but since Nanshizhao’s launch in February, its key product – shamian – has been ordered 2,500 times; other foods like dry cauliflower, have been ordered about 800 times.
The place carries lots of dried food. “In the fall, you can see hanging dried fish everywhere,” Su said. The dry cauliflower (14.9 yuan for 200 grams) is worth trying. The dry vegetables have a nice aroma when you open the package, and they’re crispy. Simply soak them in tepid water for 15 minutes and fry them with oil or meat. One serving of dried vegetables is equivalent to six servings of regular veggies. For each delivery, there will be notes introducing how the food should be prepared.