CG: Honey Garlic Noodles

Our next culinary geography dish is Asian Honey Garlic Noodles and I tend to eat it a lot.  This one, like the previous recipe is adapted from Not Your Average College Food by Emily.  But unlike the previous dish, I did not make a mess of this one.  In fact, I got it right the first time around.  This recipe is easy and quick, so it’s perfect for when you get home and are at that point where you’ll shove food into your mouth by the fistfuls.  Yes, there is a little chopping involved but its only two items and they chop up fast.  I swear.  Just make sure you have a sharp knife.

Honey garlic noodles with roasted potatoes.  Photo by Laylita Day

Honey garlic noodles with roasted potatoes. Photo by Laylita Day

Honey Geography

In terms of honey geography, there are different ways to look at honey, either through the locations of honeybees or at honey production.  According to National Geographic, the range of the honeybees is almost the entire world, except for the extreme north and south, the Arctic and Antarctica.  Beekeeping has become a large industry though there are still wild species.  Within a hive there are three types of honeybee, the worker (non-reproducing females), the queen (reproducing female) and the drones (males).

Map of honeybee range.  Image from National Geographic.

Map of honeybee range. Image from National Geographic.

But according to a different article by National Geographic, Sam Droege is studying a decrease in honeybees, fearful of the non-wild ones becoming an endangered species.  This has led Droege to start creating the first national inventory of indigenous wild bees in the hopes that they can be used to keep our crops pollinated in the future.  The last 10 years have seen more than half of the non-wild U.S. honeybee populations disappear, which could lead to problems as these honeybees are used to pollinate one third of U.S. crops.

Part of the decline can be attributed to pesticides, fungicides, viruses and so on.  They also have the problem of lacking a vertebrate circulatory system, which leaves them vulnerable to parasites.  The wild bee on the other hand is little well-known and could be hardier than its non-wild counterpart.  Their populations are thought to be less now because of loss of habitat through land development and even gardeners who may unknowingly remove the native plants the bees like to feed from.  Climate change could also be a factor as it limits the bee’s food supply.

One of the problems with Droege’s study is the fact that bees have not been well studied and are hard to differentiate.  Four hundred species, 10 percent of North America’s bees lack names.  Large amounts of time is then spent on trying to identify different bee types.  One new type recently discovered in Cuba though was quickly named after Droege.  It’s called Megachile droegei.

As for honey production, Mexico has a long history with it, as it was important in Maya culture.  The arrival of Africanized honey bees though had honey producers worried though that has lessened since such bees have been found to be good producers of honey.  Mexico is the sixth largest honey producing country and is a lead exporter with most exports going to the USA and Europe.  The southeast is the main area for honey production though other areas produce it as well.  Domestic consumption in Mexico has also risen over the 20 year period from 1990 to 2010 going form 200 grams per person to over 300 grams, thanks to the use of honey in processed foods.

Going back to Africanized honey bees, these bees are the result of the hybridization of European and African bees done in Brazil in the 1950s.  Some of the experimental bees escaped into the wild and quickly adapted and migrated north (about 350 km/year).  While slightly smaller than European bees, they have the aggressive tendencies of African bees.  Thus they have been called “killer bees” due to the about 1,000 deaths they have caused.  They attack quickly and even without provocation.  They react 10 times faster than European bees and can follow a human for 300-400 meters.  They reached North American by the 1990s despite attempts made by experts to stop and slow down their migration.

Honey Garlic Noodles

My version has a lot less ingredients, mainly because I’m lazy and cheap but also because some of the original ingredients may be hard to find in certain areas.  So taking it down to basics helps if you can’t find mirin or sesame seeds.

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

2 bulbs of garlic

1 tbsp honey

1 pack of green onions

1 tbsp ginger powder

16 ounces of chow mein noodles

vegetable oil (as much as need to coat the vegetables and noodles)

Prep and Cooking:

Chop garlic into fairly small pieces, chop green onions (whatever size you like) then set those aside and cook the noodles.  You can cook the noodles until they are soft, just don’t overcook them or you’ll have a mushy mess on your hands that won’t mix well later.  Once the noodles are done, set those aside and get a large saucepan, add enough oil to coat the bottom and then cook the garlic and green onions.  Cook this until the garlic is somewhat soft and not too strong tasting.  Then add noodles and enough oil to coat the noodles.  Keep the heat low to medium.

Next make the sauce.  Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and ginger together in a small bowl, mix and then add to noodles.  Mix thoroughly and cook for about another 5 minutes.  Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.  Done!  Enjoy.

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