October 10, 2015

1801: Sichuan Baijia Spicy Artificial Fei-Chang Flavor Instant Vermicelli (New Version)

To those of you have followed my blogs and my Bottom Ten lists for a while, you know what this is. To those who haven’t, let me introduce you to this one. In my original review, I was really put off by this one. I thought it had some kind of ‘dirt and urine’ odor to it. But this is a new version. First, what’s fei chang? Here’s something I found on a blog called Food And Drink Chengdu:

Pork intestine (fei chang) is the starting point of some of the most loved local dishes in Sichuan. It is stewed, stir fried, stirred into hot pot, adds richness to dishes like bean soup, and gets the dry pot treatment, among others. I once watched a couple of guys buying a huge length of it in the supermarket with the obvious anticipation that one of my compatriots might show picking out a top grade steak. I get why it is so popular – there is a chewy outside and a tender inside to the organ that gives it both absorbency and ‘kou gan’ (mouthfeel), but I only order it at reputable places since it has to be cleaned and prepared carefully or the barnyard notes get a little too much for my taste. A popular way to eat fei chang is in soup with rice noodles – fei chang fen. Many of the shops selling fei chang fen in Chengdu advertise Bai Jia style.

So just to reiterate, we’re talking pork intestines, something most Westerners would become very queasy just thinking about. This is artificially flavored, so no pork intestine in here. I did try pork intestine in Penang – actually requested it. I had it fried and crispy – and was reminiscent of chicharones (pork rinds). Anyways, someday I’ll have to try the real deal… I have received plenty of heated comments about the original review and my thoughts on it being really foul tasting stuff:

Gillian writes – well you just have to be the epitome of ignorant white trash, don’t you sweetie?
Different cultures have different things in which they call tasty, and these special szechuan peppers and herbs are very delicious to Chinese taste. Respect other people’s culture, isn’t this the first thing you learn in college? Oh right, you probably never went to college and still live in your parent’s basement.
Anyways, I eat these regularly, and for your information, you didn’t even cook this correctly. You’re supposed to put everything in a bowl, pour hot water in it, and cover it and let it sit for 5 minutes, you dimwit. The consistency is no where near what you described. Don’t blame the product for your ignorance, you’ll just be the laughing stalk in the eyes of 1.3 billion people in China.

Sophia writes – seriously. This is my all time fav in college. I don’t care the “urine” whatever smell you mentioned. The smell is just right. Fei chang is a popular ingredients in Chinese cuisine. Just like chicken feet, pork head, beef tongue, etc, those kinds of stuff. Not bizarre at all. It can be found in almost all east and southeast Asian cuisines. You don’t judge Asian food if you think that is bizarre. And the dark color noodle, that’s because it’s not flour noodle! Rice noodle could have such color if sweet potato is added as minor. Taste is awesomely spicy and I love it. I used to keep at least 3 of these in dorm. The package is poor, even safety might be a potential problem, but seriously, you don’t question the taste. You just don’t know the food, that’s it.

Veganvetzak writes – Thanks for the review of what I’m sitting down to for lunch. In a remote location. Without any other options. Damn.

Comments like these have kind of haunted me for the last five years. Did I really cook them wrong? Was it a bad pack? Am I ignorant white trash? I have gone back numerous times to revisit the review, and recently noticed the comment about the new version being a little different. I’ve tried so many new flavors in the last five years from so many places I’m not sure the ignorant label applies, But I think today is the day to give this one another try. I really do hope I like it; I guess we’ll just have to see. With that, let’s begin.

Here’s the back of the package (click image to enlarge). Looks to be meat free but check for yourself. Also note almost 4 grams of sodium – making it the highest sodium content of any instant noodle product I’ve seen yet, I believe. To prepare, add all ingredients into a bowl. Add 500-600ml boiling water (I’ll do 550ml). Not sure if it says to cover, but I will cover the bowl for 5-6 minutes (going with 5 1/2). Stir and enjoy!

An extremely large ‘nest’ of vermicelli, made from sweet potato and tapioca.

The dry ingredients sachet.

Vegetables and powder – guessing the fine white powder is monosodium glutamate.

A liquid sachet.

A thick oily liquid.

A paste sachet.

Very thick and has a kind of sweet herbed scent.

Finished (click image to enlarge). Added Chinese sausage, white onion, spring onion, green bell pepper and Goat Horn pepper from Dwayne. The vermicelli hydrated wonderfully at 5 1/2 minutes. I used a pair of kitchen scissors to make them more easily navigable. They weren’t bad and that’s mainly because of the broth. First off, yes. When I first tried this I was most certainly an ignorant gwai-lo – or at least my tongue was five years ago. I would say the broth has a nice rich herbed flavor – lots of star anise, maybe some clove and cinnamon. To be honest, it reminds me of flavors I would more associate with duck, but it works quite well with the noodles. The beans hydrated very well in the allotted time as well. Since this is a new version, it supersedes the old and will no longer appear on the bottom ten list going forward. 3.75 out of 5.0 stars.  EAN bar code 6926410320030.

Sichuan Baijia Instant Sweat Potato Thread/noodle Spicy Artificial Fei-chang Flavor 3.70 Oz (Pack of 8)

A Sichuan Baijian company video.

Products cooked according to package instructions. Product reviews done prior to adding any additional ingredients.

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