From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Unwrapped - Rice Noodles

So… I decided to treat myself to lunch today, and I went to the first place I could think of that was close. I’ll give you a hint. I was craving a Pad Thai. Yum.. Rice noodles with chicken, shrimp and fried tofu, served hot with a tangy tamarind sauce and garnished with bean sprouts and chopped peanuts. Tong’s Thai, here I come again. It was tasty, and satisfying. Two very difficult elements of a finished product to achieve in my eyes.

When I got back into the office, I was telling one of my residents, also a reader of this fine blog, about my excursion. She told me that she too enjoys a spicy Pad Thai, but when she tries to make it at home, her rice noodles always seem to come out with a sour taste.

Quick lesson in rice noodle cooking.

Rice noodles are a staple for many Thai and other Asian menus. They are versatile in their use in everyday cooking as well. Learning to cook rice noodles may necessitate a bit of trial and error, but once you have hit the high end of the learning curve, gone will be the days of burnt noodles, or sour noodles, or tasteless noodles. From that point on, you should be able to add them to many of your favorite dishes. Pay special attention to the preparation of the rice noodles and you will have a fail safe recipe for noodles.

Rice noodles need simple preparation before beginning to cook them. The simple reason is because they come packaged in a hard, dried form and need to be softened before you can add them to boiling water. Place the dried noodles in a bowl of COLD water (enough water to cover them) and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes. This soaking in cold water will soften them up and release some of the starchiness, a starchiness that results in sticky noodles. Soaking rice noodles in hot water will result in your noodles having a sour taste, as the rice starts to cook and ferment. This step alone will ensure the highest quality product. Also, make sure that the noodles are kept moist or they will harden again. If you are not going to be using them immediately, cover them with plastic warp or a damp cloth. Rice noodles can be stored safely, in water, in the refrigerator, for up t o2 days.

Cooking rice noodles is fairly easy, but if you don't do it right, you could end up with sticky or mushy noodles. Some noodle packages may say you only need to submerge them in water and don't say anything about boiling them, but boiling them will give you the soft, glossy rice noodles that you want. Bring a pot of water to boil and then turn the heat off; use a strainer to submerge serving-size portions of rice noodles into the boiled water. Hold them in there for around 30 seconds before pulling out, rinsing briefly with cold water. Place the cooked noodles on a serving plate, stir them up and then submerge another serving size into the boiled water until you have enough for everyone.

You can use rice noodles in a variety of dishes. Pad Thai is probably the most popular way to serve rice noodles, with a peanut and chili pepper sauce. However, you may fry them with vegetables or use them as a noodle in a spicy soup.
Rice noodles can be found in many recipes that I like to make. It is simply a matter of getting to make the recipes for the family to enjoy…
Until then, Good Eating, Friends…


1 pkg. (7 oz.) Stir-Fry Rice Noodles

1/8 cup Kung Pao Sauce*

1/8 cup Soy Sauce Blend**

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp garlic, minced

6 shrimp, shelled and deveined (optional)

2 oz. tofu, cubed

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup bean sprouts

1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed

Optional garnishes: sprigs of fresh cilantro and lime wedges

4 cups broccoli florets

1 red pepper thinly sliced

Heat oil in a wok, add garlic. Saute for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add shrimp, tofu and egg. Stir-fry for 1 minute, until egg is scrambled. Add vegetables, rice noodles and tamarind juice mixture. Stir-fry all ingredients until well cooked and combined.

Serve with bean sprouts on the side, peanuts sprinkled over the top, with fresh cilantro and lime wedge garnishes.

Serves 4.

*Click HERE for Kung Pao Sauce Recipe

**Click HERE for Soy Sauce Blend

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