Originally a regional specialty from the southern Chinese city of Liuzhou, Luo Si Fen (螺蛳粉) has quickly become the rage in China over the last few year, spawning a crop of restaurants and ready-to-eat products in supermarkets across the country. I was, like many people, initial skeptic quickly turned believer with my first taste.
The dish consists of rice noodles boiled and served in a soup made from a stock made from river snails and pork bones which are stewed for hours with black cardamom, fennel seed, dried tangerine peel, cassia bark, cloves, white pepper, bay leaf, licorice root, sand ginger, and star anise. The soup does not usually contain any snail meat but pickled bamboo shoot, pickled green beans, shredded wood ear, fu zhu, fresh green vegetables, peanuts and chili oil are usually added.
As I’m not in China to make a personal pilgrimage, I’ll have to settle for instant packaged versions to be cooked at home; specifically, a little comparison between the five brands that was available in Yamibuy at the time of writing:
柳全(Liu Quan) VS 好欢螺(Hao Huan Luo) VS 螺霸王(Luo Ba Wang) VS 螺状元(Luo Zhuang Yuan) VS 嘻螺会(Xi Luo Hui)
(There was also 寄杨轩 and 桂之印 but they were out of stock at the time and has been ever since).
(I’m not getting a commission from Yamibuy, although I probably should be…)
For those of you lazy asses who don’t want to read all the details and look at all the (pretty) pictures, the TL;DR overall ranking is 柳全/Liu Quan (best fu zhu/rice noodle/soup base) > 螺霸王/Luo Ba Wang (best chili oil) > 好欢螺/Hao Huan Luo > 螺状元/Luo Zhuang Yuan (best peanuts) > 嘻螺会/Xi Luo Hui