Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Instant Noodle Around the World 17 - Kang Shi Fu Braised Beef Cup Noodle

The name of the brand is Kang Shi Fu, or "Master Kang". The flavour is "hong shao niu rou", or translated as "braised beef". However, 'hong shao" meat is normally braised with spices including chilli peppers. That's why I thought the Chinese letters meant "spicy beef soup". The beauty of sharing through internet: quick gain of information. Thanks to my Singaporean friend for the help!

There are three packages inside, one for powdered seasoning, one for dehydrated vegetables and the last one for the wet seasoning.

It was quite difficult to get all of the wet seasoning out because it forms a solid clump that doesn't flow even if you squeeze the packaging. Maybe the low temperature (right now it's about 12 degrees C outside and I don't turn my heater on) caused the oil to solidify. Normally, I'd get it out using my chopstick/fork. It doesn't kill to have a clump, but I find it a little bit annoying. 

The noodle has a great texture, and the level of spiciness is just fine for me. I would say that in terms of spiciniess, it is slightly above Shin Ramyun. The noodle is pretty chewy, but not as chewy as Shin Ramyun. The rehydrated vegetables have acceptable texture (of course you can't expect too much from rehydrated vegetables), and surprisingly, there are also beef pieces in there. The beef must have been in the wet seasoning. Its texture is similar to overcooked minced beef: a little too hard and perhaps a little rubbery, and it lacks the juiciness of a freshly cooked beef.

Overall, the flavour is great. However, one of the drawbacks is that if you eat this in a room that is quite cold, the soup will cool down pretty fast and then you will end up looking at a pool of oil mixed with some solid fats floating on top of the soup. In many of Chinese cuisines, the spiciness in the dish is delivered through spiced oils, and a lot of flavour compounds are dissolved in the oil. So if you don't eat the soup together with the floating oil/fats, the soup doesn't taste as great as it should be.

But I guess this problem applies to other brands with similar flavour concept.

The ingredient list is in Dutch, and although I don't really understand Dutch, it's better than reading it in Chinese because then even Google Translate would not be helpful at all. Anyways, reading the ingredient list is one of my ways to slowly learn Dutch without taking any lessons.

Noodle: tarwemeel (wheat flour), geraffinneerde palm olie (refined palm oil), zetmeel (starch), zout (salt), kaliumcarbonaat (calium carbonate), natrium tripolyphosphate (sodium tripolyphosphate), kruiden (spices), b caroteen (beta carotene)

Sauce pack: geraffinneerde palm olie (refined palm oil), sjalot (shallot), zout (salt), smaakversterker E621 (flavour enhancer)

Soup pack: zout (salt), smaakversterker E621 (flavour enhancer), suiker (sugar), kruiden (spices), specerijen (spices), gevriesdroogd groenten (lyophilized/dehydrated vegetables)

So, some ingredients sound new to me. There is a Codex (standard) for instant noodle, in which instant noodle, its ingredients and its properties are defined. To make it easier to understand, a Codex for butter would indicate that in order for a product to be called butter, it has to contain 80% fat. So if something is below 80%, even though it looks like butter, you may not call it a butter.

The Codex for instant noodle is Codex STAN 249-2006_1. If you are interested, you can Google it. Otherwise, you can try this link. The document is fairly easy to understand, even if you are not familiar with the food industry. So here's what I found:
  • calium carbonate: possibly acidity regulators, since sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate are typically used as acidity regulators. These compounds have the potential to lower the acidity of the product.
  • sodium tripolyphosphate: a humectant (a substance that keeps things moist)
I'm not sure of the differences between kruiden and specerijen. This might be an interesting topic to cover. Apparently, according to my Polish friend, kruiden = herbs and specerijen = spices.

But you know what's weird? There are three packs of condiments inside the cup noodle, as I mentioned earlier and showed in the photo. However, there are only two packs listed. Also, I remember very clearly that I was fishing for the meat pieces from the soup. Where did the beef go in the ingredients list? Was there a translation error, or was it also not included in the original text? I don't know. I threw the packaging away and there is no way I could translate the Chinese characters. I don't even know how to type them into Google Translate LOL. Well, if you understand Chinese, and you bought this instant noodle, please let me know what it says on the ingredients list.

After writing this post, I was thinking... Maybe I should have a post for Instant Noodle 101 and try to bust some stupid myths and hoaxes floating around the internet, like "a wax is sprayed on the noodle to make the noodle appear better and last longer, so when you boil the noodle you see oil droplets floating". This is not true because the oil droplets resulted from frying the noodles during the process of making instant noodles. 


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