Chongqing Sweet Potato Noodles (Glass Noodles, Hongshu Fen, Fentiao)

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These medium-weight, round noodles are made from sweet potato starch and are gluten-free. They have a springy, chewy texture that stands up to liquid, which makes them quite distinct from rice or wheat noodles. Also called glass noodles in English, they don't get sticky or gooey or fall apart but retain their bite and heft, while also being a slippery challenge for chopsticks. Many of us think they are the perfect noodle.

According to local lore, sweet potatoes have been grown in the Wulong district of greater Chongqing since their arrival from the New World in 1593. The area has long been known for its starch noodles made from ruby potatoes and spring water, and they have even been designated Chongqing Intangible Cultural Heritage. As tradition dictates, the Wulong Shaofen company still uses stone mills to grind the starch for its noodles at the beginning of a 16-step process. 

In Chongqing and Sichuan, sweet potato noodles, called hongshu fen or fentiao, are eaten in many shapes and sizes, but we've sourced these to be the star of soups such as suan la fen (sour and spicy noodle soup). They can be used in place of wheat or rice noodles in all kinds of soups, in fact, and are an ideal addition to hot pot, since they release much less starch than other noodles.

We also love to stir-fry them (similar to Korean jap chae) or sub them for bean thread noodles in the famous "ants climbing a tree." And northern China loves these noodles simply stir-fried with cabbage, as in this recipe from our affiliate Omnivore's Cookbook. Glass noodles make a delicious  liang fen, or cold noodle salad, as well. 

Soak noodles in warm water for 15 minutes to soften. For hot pot, cook soaked noodles directly in the pot. For other uses, boil soaked noodles until soft, around 8 to 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cooled and add to soups or stir-fries. 

Source: Chongqing Wulong Shaofen Group
Size: 7.7 ounces (218 grams)
Ingredients: sweet potato starch, water