Thursday, April 16, 2009

Do you like your soup long or short, mate?

For almost two centuries, the Chinese people have been arriving in Australia. The centuries-old Chinese Diaspora throughout Asia has ensured that Australia get its fair share of Chinese from South East Asia such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore, as well as from China itself. Many early Chinese first arrived in Australia from southern China as coolies (indentured labourers) even before the gold rush days, as cooks in rural homesteads. When gold was discovered, they set up market gardens and cookhouses to provide food for miners on the gold fields and continued through to serving the Chinese community with traditional Cantonese dishes based on fresh produce, fish, poultry, pork and rice, to the present days. This led to the popularisation of the Chinese food and was an important factor in the establishment of Chinese food stores and restaurants in Australia.

While Chinese food stores and restaurants have always been found in Chinatown areas in most major cities in Australia, it was not until the 1950s that Chinese takeaways and restaurants became common in suburbs and country towns. As a matter of fact, there is hardly a city suburb or major country town without a Chinese restaurant or takeaway and has becomes more noticed by its absence than its presence.

This historical background will provide me a platform to write about typical traditional Australian Chinese meals where you can still find in the menu of the rural towns and not wondering what is coming on the plate after you have ordered. Do you want your soup long or short, mate? In rural towns, Chinese soups come in two varieties: long or short.The long soup is cooked with long thin egg noodles. The short soup are the dumplings or won tons.

Here’s the long soup.

You will need:
250g lean pork or chicken
6 spring onion (shallots) Cut into white and green part.
¼ cabbage or bok choy(Chinese green)
1 1/2 litres chicken stock
½ tsp grated ginger
125 egg noodle
1 1/2 tbsp soya sauce
Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Heat oil in pan or wok, quickly stir fry pork or chicken and cabbage for a few minutes.
2. Add stock, salt and pepper, ginger, soya sauce and white part of shallot. Bring slowly to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Cook noodles in boiling water until tender for 5 minutes and drain well before serving noodles in soup bowl. Pour your hot soup over and sprinkle with chopped green part of shallot on top. Serve 8.

Stay tuned for the short soup.


  1. Err..what does long or short means?

  2. Hi Danny,
    I have no idea how it came to be known as long and short soups. Maybe the noodle is thin and long and the wanton is the opposite. Haha. Have to do some searching on this.

  3. Phil, this is the first time I heard about this..very interesting! May I know what´s your dialect group?

  4. Hi Estee,
    Shanghainese and Teochew. But not a word of Shanghainese :(