Monday, September 8, 2008
Cantonese Fried Noodles
The Chinese consider meat and vegetables to be accompaniments to their most basic staples, wheat and rice. Rice, contrary to belief, is not a staple throughout China. Wheat is cultivated in the north and rice in the south. The centerpiece of a southern Chinese table is a bowl of rice or rice-based noodles - not so in the north. The diet of the southernmost regions is the one most familiar to Americans - Cantonese. The food is mild and emphasizes freshness, tenderness, crispness and fragrance to please the tongue. Today's quest is the essence of simplicity - rice noodles with a little meat, some vegetables and a shimmering glaze of sauce. If you have a microwave, a wok or large frying pan and a sharp knife you can have this dish on the table in about 30 minutes. The microwave is used to blanch vegetables prior to wokking; limp, over-cooked snow peas will ruin this dish. I blanch vegetables because my burners don't produce enough heat to cook vegetables in a really short period of time; I suspect you have the same problem. You can, of course, fall back on the old boiling water-cold water plunge if you don't have a microwave. How long to blanch? That depends on the vegetable. Snow peas, nuked on HIGH power with a tablespoon of water, will be wok-readyin about 2 minutes. To prevent sticking, mist the bottom and sides of your pan with a nonstick spray or flavorless cooking oil; then heat the pan before adding oil for the actual cooking. The Chinese use a lot of oil and they like to reuse it. Classic recipes for fried noodles use upwards of a 1/2 cup of oil.This recipe uses 2 tablespoons. The Chinese use fresh rice noodles for this dish. I use medium-width rice sticks that resemble tagliatelle as fresh noodles are hard to come by in this area. The noodles come from Vietnam and are called bahn pho; they are available in various sizes S thru XL - go for L or XL. Pad Thai noodles can be used in a pinch, but follow box instructions for softening rather than those given in this recipe. Rice noodles can be purchased from online merchants.
Cantonese Fried Noodles...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
8 ounces wide dry rice stick noodles (bahn pho)
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided use
1 tablespoon rice wine
3-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided use
1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided use
8 ounces tender steak (i.e. sirloin or flatiron), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
8 ounces snow peas, trimmed and blanched
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
1) Cover rice noodles with boiling water. Let sit 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Drain.
2) Meanwhile, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, rice wine, 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and beef in a small bowl. Toss to coat.
3) Combine oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
4) Coat bottom and sides of wok with a thin layer of oil or nonstick spray. Heat wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and warm until it shimmers. Add beef and stir-fry until just cooked, about 1 minute. Transfer beef to a plate.
5) Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. When hot, add drained rice noodles and gently stir-fry until noodles are warm and coated with oil.
6) Add oyster sauce mixture; simmer, stirring slowly, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Add snow peas and beef, tossing lightly to combine. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Yield: 4 servings.