Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rice Noodles with Pork and Cabbage

medium rice sticks = Thai flat rice sticks = dried rice noodles = rice fettuccine = Mekong rice stick = ban pho (Vietnamese) = banh pho (Vietnamese) = ho fun (Chinese) = hor fun (Chinese) = haw fun (Chinese) = lai fen (Chinese) = laifen (Chinese) = sen lek (Thai) = kway teow (Malaysian) = kway tio (Malaysian) = gway tio (Malaysian) = kui teow (Malaysian) = kuey teow (Malaysian)

Thanks to the Cook's Thesaurus for this wonderful listing of names for dried rice noodles. I could learn it by heart and repeat it like a mantra in the hope of inducing a zen like calm.
I have always found it confusing when I'm shopping in Asian food stores - I think something looks like the thing it is I want to buy but deep down I don't really know. The name on the packet is diffferent to the one I have carefully noted before I went shopping and I get anxious about whether it is the right thing. And if it's not - how will I know? I do ask whoever I can find who works in the shop if it's the right thing but then if I'm using the wrong name for what they know that it is, even if I'm right then they don't know. You can see how it could all be a disaster.

But not with rice noodles. They are an easy thing to recognise - sold in cellophane packs in different widths they are stiff and white and have a sort of translucency like tissue paper. Made with rice flour and water I suspect they would proabably last forever if they never came into contact with moisture. Once soaked in hot water they acquire a much more substantial entity and become creamy and tender and very slippery. They don't add much by way of flavour to a dish but they do add great texture.

This is a very simple dish - quick and easy. I like the lightness of it as a mid week supper and though the principal ingredients would suggest a very substantial meal in fact it's a great way to use wintery ingredients and serve up a spring like dish. You get lots of flavour and textures and the chilli gives it a kick that seriously brightens your day.

Rice Noodle with Pork & Cabbage

400g/1lb pack dried medium rice sticks
1oog/4oz cooked pork, from cooking bones to make stock, or use raw finely diced pork
1 tbspn minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed
25ml sesame oil
50ml light soy sauce
50ml kecap manis - sweet soy
30ml shaoxing rice wine
25ml fish sauce
30g palm sugar, shaved (use a sharp knife or a grater)
1/2 tspn ground pepper
2 tbspns vegetable oil
1 tbspn chat masala spice powder - from Asian food stores like Taj in Brick Lane in London
6 spring onions, sliced into 1cm/ 1/2 inch pieces
2 small red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 small savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 cup coriander leaves

Put rice noodles into a bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle, soak for 10-15 minutes till slippery. Then drain.

Combine ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauces, rice wine, fish sauce. palm sugar and pepper in a bowl, then add shredded pork and marinate for 10 minutes.

Heat your wok, add vegetable oil and fry chat spice powder for just a moment then stir in the pork and its marinade. Toss over a high heat for a couple of minutes. Add noodles, spring onion, chilli and cabbage and toss over a high heat.

Mix in the chopped coriander and serve immediately in big bowls.


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