Rice Noodle Heaven

I have recently re-discovered the marvel of rice noodles as a pasta substitute — not that anything can ever replace pasta!  These noodles which can be easily found in an Asian market are amazingly easy to prepare and extremely flexible. Unlike pasta that gets coated in sauce, rice noodles tend to absorb liquids: and therein lies a problem— they can turn to mush!  Now that the warning is out let’s talk about the best way to prepare them

Rice noodles usually appear packaged as dry translucent threats.  Some can be thin like angel hair pasta or thick like spaghetti.  The ones pictured here are midway between fettuccini and paparadele. I think these are the easiest to work with if you are a beginner.

 Ingredients

    •  One package of rice noodles.
    • One large pot (a pasta pot is good) of boiling water.
    • Olive oil or sesame oil.

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Equipment

  • A large bowl big enough to hold the noodles and the water.
  • A large colander.
  • Tongs.

Preparation

When the water is boiling pour it into the bowl holding the noodles.

Gently swirl the noodles around in the boiling water.

They will soften as they swim. Check the noodles by removing one with the tongs and tasting it for doneness.

When the noodles are al dente, pour them into the colander and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking.

Return the cold noodles to the large bowl and gradually drizzle some oil over the noodles swirling the them as you do.  This will prevent the noodles from sticking together.

Panache Flash You now will be able to use these noodles in a dish like the following.

 

Thai-like Stirfry with Pork* and Vegetables.

(*beef, chicken or shrimp is good too)

I will use pork in this recipe.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 4 thin pork cutlets
  • 1 can of coconut milk – available in most markets
  • peanut oil for stir frying
  • curry powder (you may enhance this with such things as coriander and mustard seeds, cumin – think India meets Thai)  About two tablespoons should do.
  • Chicken stock as needed
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • 1 large onion chopped roughly
  • 4 cloves of garlic slivered
  • 1” piece of fresh ginger minced
  • A mixture of vegetables used in stir frying like:

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  • baby bok choy quartered
  • broccoli florets
  • a large red pepper sliced
  • mushrooms any kind you like
  • scallions with green stalks
  • one or two jalapeno peppers seeds removed and sliced
  • The cold rice noodles.

 

Preparation

Brown the meat on both sides in a large sauté pan containing peanut or vegetable oil — the meat shoud be RARE

Remove the meet and set aside.

Add more oil (if needed) to the hot pan and begin to fry the vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest (e.g. onions, peppers) add the garlic and ginger, then start adding more vegetables stir frying as you do.  When vegetables are al dente remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Add the butter to the hot pan and when it is bubbling, dump in the spice mixture and brown it in the oil/butter. It should become pasty.

When your spices are browned, gradually pour in the coconut milk blending it with the spices.  The milk should thicken and deglaze the pan creating a sauce. (Your goal here is a thick sauce that will coat the noodles and vegetable/meat mixture.)

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While the sauce is thickening, slice the pork cutlets into slivers and put them in the curry sauce.

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Cook the meat briefly then add the cold al dente noodles. Swirl the noodles quickly in the liquid allowing them to warm and absorb the curry flavors.  Remember over cooking will make mush! 

Dump the vegetable mixture in the pot with the noodles and meat and cook the vegetables just until they are heated through.

 

Serve immediately.

If you want to make this dish hotter, you can add some chili oil or you can substitute a Thai chili for the jalapeno in the recipe.