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Hot Sour Salty Sweet: noodles and noodle dishes/ mostly vegetables

February 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections noodles and noodle dishes and on vegetables here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Not to be unadventurous, but I think I am going to ask DH to make the Pad Thai for me for my birthday tomorrow. Pad Se Ew is actually my favorite Thai dish, but I didn't see it in the index. I'll report back if he does, in fact, make it. I'd like to compare it to Alton Brown's.

    1. The simple vegetable curry is a side dish worth cooking over and over again. There are so many variations to the simple idea. any combination of vegtables seems to work. Last night I added (for the first time) sunchokes - they were the best addition I've made, they really worked well in the spice mixture. the only other variation is that I tend to add a little more cayenne powder and green chilli to the mix, I just like the extra heat in my curry!

      Edit...opps wrong book, sorry.

      In fact the only thing I have cooked so far is the spicy potato's that you par boi l and fry in chilies and oil - fantastci dish. I've made it a few times and each time it is a winner.

      1. The morning market noodles are delicious. The recipe is great because it gives you lots of options for what to include (or omit). In addition to the base chicken and broth, I've added a few extra vegetables (thinly sliced carrots and red peppers, along with baby bok choy), sambal, a little dark soy, rice wine vinegar, peanuts, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

        http://areyouhungryyet.blogspot.com/s...

        1. The Best Eggplant Dish Ever (makeua oop – Shan State, Northern Thailand), p. 159 – Don't know that it is the "best ever" but was delicious – I included the optional ground pork. I forgot to blend in the tomatoes with the other paste ingredients – so when I remembered, I just pureed them quickly and added to the dish. I would follow the instructions regarding checking and stirring pretty often to make sure that it hasn't stuck to the bottom.

          1. So I made two dishes from the "mostly vegetables" section of the book and served w/ jasmine rice:

            The Best Eggplant Dish Ever, p. 159, Northern Thailand
            This was very delicious. What made it for me was the components of the sauce; once the turmeric and spice paste hit the pan, I about fainted from how good it smelled. Sometimes Asian seasonings can smell too powerful or pungent for me, but the aroma here was so fragrant and inviting. I did have to make a few substitutions since I didn't have some ingredients on hand: red pepper flakes for the dried Thai chilies; tiny bit of shrimp paste for the dried shrimp; chopped canned tomatoes for fresh. The shrimp paste was a great addition though, and the dish as a whole tasted perfectly balanced. Meaty, earthy, and deeply comforting. I included the optional ground pork and can't really imagine it without it. Splashing on a little fish sauce at the table made for a nice condiment. I could have cooked it a little longer (one hr. instead of 45 min.) to let the eggplant get really creamy and melting, and it will taste even better when I can get eggplant at the farmer's market in season. A definite keeper.

            Stir-fried Eggs w/ Cellophane Noodles, p. 169, Laos, Thailand
            This was a pretty easy recipe and, like the eggplant dish, had a tantalizing combination of flavors. I liked the brightness of the lime juice against the richness of the egg and heat from chile flakes. I've never had lime w/ egg before that I can recall, so the flavor was unusual and surprising in a good way. I used a little more noodle than called for, so I should have probably added another egg, but it was still tasty. The two of us easily finished this, so I would increase the recipe if serving more.

            Based on these recipes, I'm really liking this book of the month. I wasn't inspired to cook from it the first time I checked it out from the library, so I'm glad the hounds made me take a second look.

            Photos of each dish:

             
             
            1 Reply
            1. re: Carb Lover

              years later, carb lover, i must commend you on those professional-looking dishes! just fabulous.

            2. Mmmm, that "best eggplant dish ever' looks good and has been on my to try list forever. you guys are really motivating me. That durn 'optional pork' is what's really holding me back, because I agree with carblover, it sounds like a pretty critical ingredient.

              Anyway, thanks for the posts, and the for the photos, carblover!

              8 Replies
              1. re: Smokey

                I'm sure the pork added something, but I really think it would be delicious w/o it.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Yes, I'm sure it would be tasty w/o the meat and that a vegetarian wouldn't miss it. The garlic, shallots, turmeric and tomato will add lots of great seasoning and depth. Try it and let us know what you think.

                  I did really enjoy the texture of pork as well as the flavor it lended. Pork and shrimp added a great dimension that struck a chord w/ me since I grew up w/ those flavors yet don't cook w/ that combination often.

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    So, I've had HSSS out of the library throughout the month of February, and only finally NOW have I made anything from it. I finally got around to trying the best eggplant dish ever and was woefully disappointed! I didn't use the pork, but otherwise was true to the recipe. I thought it was incredibly unidimensional and un-nuanced (is that a word?!). I wouldn't go so far as to call it bad, but boy, it certainly wasn't the best eggplant dish in the world. Oh, well.

                    1. re: Smokey

                      Like so many dishes from the Asian peninsula, this dish requires the small amount of pork to "make it".

                      FWIW, my wife loves it, I think it's pretty darn good, not my favorite.

                      1. re: uptown jimmy

                        To each their own, but I'm not entirely buying that it needed the pork to make it. That's for two reasons:

                        1. the authors describe the pork as optional
                        2. I find it hard to believe that one ingredient would have transformed a dish that already had many ingredients in it and I felt was unidimensional into something that merits the title, 'world's best'.

                        As I said, to each their own, but pork or no, I won't be revisiting this recipe.

                        1. re: Smokey

                          Sorry to hear you didn't care for this dish, Smokey. "World's Best" is def. a stretch and should never be in the title of anything, as far as I'm concerned.

                          I used the pork but think the dish would still be good w/o it. I thought the aromatic paste gave it nice flavor and complexity. Did you use the shrimp paste (instead of the dried shrimp)?

                          1. re: Carb Lover

                            Oddly, I used a combination of the two! I was able to pick up some dried shrimp, so used that. When tasting the sauce after preparing it (but before cooking it up), I decided it was a bit flat. So, I added some shrimp paste. Agreed, World's Best is a pretty big piece of hype for anything to live up to, so the dish certainly suffered from its name!

                          2. re: Smokey

                            The authors describe pork as "optional" for several recipes in the book, I think, I presume as an attempt to accomodate vegetarian eaters.

                            But it is no myth that the amount of pork listed in that particular recipe is typical for many, many recipes in the world of Asian quisine. It's a pretty vital flavoring agent, and one that would seem vital to making this dish really tasty, IMO. I think the authors refer to it as "highly recommended", which seems a pretty strong endorsement...

                            Take Mapo Tofu, a Szechuan dish, for instance: without the small amount of pork it calls for, it just ain't Mapo Tofu anymore.

                            Anyway, it isn't my favorite dish from the book, and I don't make it more than once a year. To each his/her own.

                2. Yunnan Greens (pg. 151)

                  I thought these were wonderful. They were simple and all the flavors built on each other. I used Shanghai bok choi. Essentially, you first blanch the greens then stirfry the greens with dried chili peppers and ginger (I also had garlic so I threw that in too). Add a bit of water, then a cornstarch/water thickener.

                  I served these with cod poached in soy sauce and white rice.

                  Picture of greens.

                   
                  1. Chinese Greens, Thai Style (pg. 156), Best Eggplant Dish Ever (pg. 159), Luscious Chile Oil Tofu (pg. 168), Stir Fried Egg with Cellophane Noodles (pg. 169)

                    I had a small dinner party (4 total) and served the above dishes with white rice. FYI, this was just the right amount of food with no leftovers.

                    The greens were good. I used Chinese broccoli (gan lan) but I neglected to cut down the leaves. I did halve the stalks, however, the pieces were too long. The flavors worked really well together, the garlic against the soybean paste, v. the fish sauce.

                    Not much to add to the eggplant dish. However, I followed the stir every 5 minutes directions too closely. I did stir often, consequently, my dish took significantly longer than the 45-60 minutes. Mine cooked for almost 2 hours and while the eggplant was soft, it wasn't the mush that the authors describe. The eggplant was good but I wouldn't call it the best eggplant ever.

                    Chili oil tofu - this was great. I loved it even if my sichuan pepper was a little old and not as flavorful and I burned my chile oil. Nevertheless, the pork mixed in with the soft tofu was extremely comforting. Unfortunately, for me, I only had about half the amount of tofu. My container had frozen and half the tofu was bad. I used fresh silken tofu and the softness of the tofu made the tofu melt into the pork and other flavors. I made this again tonight with a firmer tofu (boxed from Whole Foods) and it wasn't nearly as good.

                    Eggs with cellophane noodles - as Carb Lover pointed out, the lime juice and hot peppers was a really nice addition to the eggs. I would make twice as much next time because I wanted more when we finished it.

                    I had to post the pictures on shutterfly because the photos were bigger than 2 megabytes.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Here are the pictures:

                      Greens:

                      http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                      Eggplant:

                      http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                      Tofu:

                      http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                      Egg with Noodles:

                      http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                      1. re: beetlebug

                        Thanks for your reports and photos! What kind of eggplant did you use? The photo looks like small Italian ones, but I'm not sure. Japanese ones are smaller w/ creamy flesh and have better "melting" potential.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          I think they were the Japanese ones. I was looking for non-fat shaped eggplant, saw these and pounced. I bought them at the large Asian market but I didn't take note of the sign. Actually, this market (Super 88, Allston, MA) often doesn't have signs for the veggies.

                          Upon reflection, I think I took the "stir every 5 minutes" to heart. I did a thorough stir each time and let too much steam out.

                      2. re: beetlebug

                        Chinese Greens, Thai Style pg. 156
                        Made these last night with Bok Choi, and they were a real hit. One thing, though, instead of the dao jiao (fermented soy bean in paste) I used roasted ground dao nao (dried fermented soy cakes, see page 37 for a description), we both much prefer this flavor to the jars of yellow fermented sauce, and indeed it was wonderful in this dish.

                      3. Seared Pepper Salt Tofu (pg. 150), Stir Fried Cabbage with Dried Chiles and Ginger (pg. 157), Eggs Scrambled with Tomato (pg. 168)

                        I've been on a veggie cooking spree but neglectful about posting. The above, along with the chili oil tofu and white rice was tonight's dinner. The big hit was the cabbage. This was great. Not how I pictured it at all. When I stir fry, I am used to having some liquid to with the dish. This was a dry stir fry. The cabbage crisped up with hints of salt, pork and ginger. The recipe called for 1 oz of pork butt or 2 slices of bacon. I couldn't ask the butcher for 1 oz of pork butt. Instead, I bought one cube of pork that is usually used for a stew type dish. It was all of 78 cents. I felt a little silly, but that's all I needed or wanted. The cabbage was crunchy enough and incredibly flavorful. There wasn't that much pork to the dish and it wasn't needed. Just enough to flavor the dish.

                        http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                        Seared pepper salt tofu - this was ok. Part of my problem is that I bought smoked tofu. I grabbed the package without taking a close look at it. But it was still tasty. Next time, I would add a bit more of the chinese pepper salt as well as more scallions and cilantro. I want to try this dish again because I love dried tofu and it's a quick enough dish that it can be easily added to a menu.

                        http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                        Eggs scrambled with tomato - it's funny. This dish was also not what I had envisioned. I thought it was but an egg dish with some tomatoes. Instead, it's a tomato dish with a bit of egg added in. It went wonderfully with rice. The recipe called for 2 large half green or semi-ripe tomatoes. I used the New England equivalent - winter tomatoes. I stir fried the scallions and garlic and then added the tomatoes. Then I added the eggs and kept stir frying the eggs until they cooked. So simple yet such a satisfying dish.

                        Not a great pic, but I was hungry and was finished fiddling with the camera:

                        http://shim1.shutterfly.com/procgserv...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: beetlebug

                          Wow. Thanks for the report. Everything looks so good - the stir-fried cabbage is on my list to make this week.

                          (BTW- The "Favorites" tab is finally working and notifying of new posts!)

                          1. re: Rubee

                            So far, my favorites have been the cabbage and the egg with cellophane noodles. The cabbage also re-heated better than I expected. Admittedly, it lacked the initial crunch, but the flavors were even more intense.

                          2. re: beetlebug

                            Seared Pepper Salt Tofu: I made this recently...the amount of pepper-salt they call for (1/8 teaspoon) is virtually indectable. In any other chinese "salt and pepper" dish I've had the flavor is much more forthcoming. I'd recommend using alot more.

                            1. re: beetlebug

                              Made the Cabbage w/ Dried Chili & Ginger, pg 157, last night. Yum. Follwed the directions pretty much exactly (light cure bacon for the pork), and it was a breeze, with wonderful results.

                            2. In a fit of spaciness, I bought shrimp paste instead of dried shrimp for one of the recipes in the book (if it matters, it's the 'best eggplant dish in the world' recipe). I came home, realized my mistake and read up on what the book said about shrimp paste. Do those of you who have made this recipe, or who are simply more familiar with these ingredients, think I can get by with subbing one for the other?

                              Any feedback appreciated.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Smokey

                                It obviously won't be the same, but I don't think it's a bad substitution. I didn't have dried shrimp so used about 1/8 tsp. shrimp paste (a little goes a long way) to add that salty, briney nuance. Enjoy the eggplant dish; it's delicious!

                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                  Thanks, carb lover! In the ingredient index, they refer to something about heating it in a folded up packet of tin foil before using. Did you do that?

                              2. Chiang Mai Curry Noodles (khao soi - Northern Thailand)

                                Delicious - I would have used 1 lb of beef, rather than a half pound - even for just two of us - loads of noodles (and I used 8oz rather than the called for lb) and v. little beef, lots of sauce. The perfect degree of spice for me - hot, w/o being unbearable. I did fry some of the noodles and was glad I did - the crispiness was nice contrast to the silky broth and the boiled noodles. Next time I also might try using lite coconut milk, or cut back on the coconut milk and add some broth - just because I think this must have been terribly caloric. Looking forward to having some left overs for lunch.

                                 
                                8 Replies
                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  That looks really good! I might have to try that this weekend.

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    It was - and it was pretty straight forward. I liked it w/ the salads - cucumber and pomelo.

                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                    Chiang Mai Noodles

                                    A little late to this party, but I received the book for christmas and am just now starting to cook my way through it.
                                    I took a few liberties with the ingredients, like simmering a few handfuls of sliced veggies (red pepper, eggplant, red onion) with the coconut milk. Makes for a more well-rounded one-pot meal. I used chicken instead of beef, which was okay, but I do believe that the beef is the right sort of meat to go with the richness of the coconut milk. Will try with beef next time. I did replace 1 cup of the coconut milk with chicken broth, and even then it was still so rich and thick that next time I'll try a half-half ratio.
                                    I followed MMRuth's lead and fried up some egg noodles, and am very pleased with the textural contrast it provided. Scattered over a smattering of green onions, and perhaps next time I'll add some fresh cilantro leaves as well. The lime juice is a must! It really cuts through the sauce and provides a welcome lifting freshness to the dish. The more I ate this, the more I loved it. I really thought that I would just taste like red curry with noodles, but the turmeric and garlic just add so much more. This is a definite make-again in my household.

                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      When I saw this post pop up I really laughed, I'm just in the process of making a batch of kao soi myself. FYI, don't know if you had any, but if not and if you can find them, a can of the canned thai mustard green pickle it really adds a great dimension to these.

                                      1. re: qianning

                                        It's just a noodle kind of day, I suppose! Excellent to know about the pickled greens; I'll have to keep an eye out for them. I am really running out of space in my fridge, freezer and cupboards for all of these must-have ingredients, but really, it's all in the name of a good meal, isn't it?! At least, that's what I keep telling myself.....

                                      2. re: Allegra_K

                                        Glad you revived this, Allegra_K. I have the book, but had never seen this thread. I've cooked a few things, but now I have some more ideas, info, inspiration--and I've been craving Asian food.

                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                          Even years later, these threads are full of excellent information. It's a wonderful resource!

                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                            Well, let me be the latest to revive this thread!

                                            15 years late to the party, but I finally got this book in my stocking this year and put it to use today to make khao soi. It came out really good, although next time Im going to try the same dish but with chicken and green curry paste!

                                            I used fried noodles, julienned red onion, scallions, cilantro, and a lime wedge for garnish and was happy with that assortment.

                                            How have I been without this book for so long. I have sooooooooooooooooooooo many books dunno how I missed this one, its great!

                                            Does anyone know if you would use about the same amount of green curry paste in a dish as you would red curry paste or do they vary in intensity?

                                    2. Noodles with Greens and Gravy (pg. 116)

                                      This was good but not great. I used dried pad thai noodle v. the wide noodles but I don't think that really altered the recipe any. It just wasn't as saucy as I would have liked. Given the title of the dish, I thought it would have an abundance of gravy. There was just enough to cover all the noodles. The recipe called for the noodles to be served on to individual platters. I didn't do so, instead combined everything into a large bowl. What made this dish was the thai fish sauce with chili peppers. I used this sauce as opposed to making the recommended chile vinegar sauce. Either way, the chile sauce added an additional dimension to the noodle dish itself.

                                      Pic of dish taken by others

                                       
                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        I made this (Noodles with Greens and Gravy) last night. I'm a dedicated lad na fan and was excited to do it at home. The fresh rice noodles have always been integral to the experience for me, so that's what I used. The dish very much lived up to my expectations (although like beetlebug I thought there would be more sauce - perhaps I'll double it next time?) I also tried it with tofu instead of pork, and was happy with that as well. Although I look forward to a piggier bowlful next time.

                                        It's easy and quick enough to be an everyday supper item so it's going in our regular rotation. My five-year-old daughter practically stuck her face in the bowl.

                                        1. re: lora

                                          This one of our favorite dishes. Absolutely delicious. And the fresh rice noodles are a must, utterly important for the recipe to work out right, I think.

                                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                                            This is our favourite dish from the book and beyond. We especially love sprinkling (pouring) the vinegar all over the greens. But I think I do add a little extra chicken broth to sauce it up. Also, as I posted elsewhere, I don't fry the noodles, just soak them (dried variety) in hot water and then stir them around in the almost cooked "stew." But I'll try fresh next time, with tofu....

                                      2. Stir Fried Cabbage with Dried Chiles and Ginger (lajiao baicai - Yunnan), pg. 157.

                                        I agree with Beetlebug above. Not much to add. Although it's a simple vegetable dish, I really liked the texture of the chopped cabbage and the flavors from star anise, ginger, and garlic. I used half a head of green cabbage, but didn't change the proportions of the rest of the ingredients. Instead of one ounce of pork butt, I used the fattier ends of lean boneless pork chops that I'm using for the Vietnamese Baked Cinnamon Pate (p. 259). The cabbage made a nice side dish served with sticky rice and Fried Beef Jerky (p.218).

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          I liked this dish a lot - I had a very lean piece of pork, so added a bit of leaf lard to the oil, because why not? This is something I plan to make often.

                                          1. re: mirage

                                            Great dish, even without the pork.

                                        2. I made pad thai tonight. It was my first time ever making it though I have had it out many times.
                                          My overall opinion was only medium. I think with a few tweaks on my end it could've been great though. For one thing I need to use a bigger wok - it became quite difficult to deal with all the noodles towards the end. Also, the tamrin,d soy and fish sauce mixture could've been doubled it needed more flavour. Lastly- I found the dried shrimp to be really rubbery and kinda gross. I haven't ever cooked with them before so maybe I needed to do something different. Anyone have any ideas?

                                          At any rate, it *looked* really good.

                                          Katerina
                                          http://dailyunadventures.com

                                           
                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: daily_unadventures

                                            We prefer other recipes for Pad Thai. One of my few disappointments with the book...

                                          2. Shan Salad with Cellophane Noodles and Ginger (pg. 145)

                                            This was very good and a lot can be pre-prepped so dinner doesn't become crazy. I really liked the crispy raw napa cabbage balanced with the soft chewiness of the cellophane noodles. The sauce, like most sauces in this book, is quite flavorful.

                                            Essentially, fry 1/4 cup of minced garlic until it is lightly browned and then add a couple of dried red chilis. Then, make a paste of minced ginger, dried shrimps, a bit of water and salt. Combine all of the above.

                                            Lastly, Soak the cellophane noodles until soft and then boil briefly. Cut up napa cabbage and combine with the noodles. Toss with the sauce and cilantro and let it sit for 20 minutes so the flavors come together.

                                             
                                            1. Quick and Tasty Yunnanese Potatoes, p. 162

                                              Surely I'm not the only one who has tried this recipe? I made this several weeks ago but wanted to squeeze in a quick report before the month was over. The recipe is super easy and only has five total ingredients including seasoning. I still don't have Thai dried chiles in my pantry so had to substitute red pepper flakes. Recipe doesn't specify what kind of potatoes, so I used Yukon golds since I wanted a firmer texture.

                                              Overall, the dish was very tasty in a simple homey way, as I expected. I served w/ white rice (more carbs!) and some sort of stir-fry that I invented w/ random ingredients in my fridge. They suggest to serve leftovers topped w/ stir-fried greens and a fried egg, which sounds like a great brunch or quick dinner!

                                               
                                               
                                              1. Confessions of a Cookbook of the month Cheater…

                                                Okay… I admit, it was the last week of Feb when I realized I had gotten a bit lazy on this cookbook of the month thing. I didn’t buy the book, instead just did a quick google search and ran across several ‘inspired by’ recipes (Blog speak for I respect people’s copyright… just enough…) and found one that looked real yummy! Spicy Noodles…

                                                The recipe called for Narrow Rice Noodles, which I took to mean Pad Thai Noodles…

                                                http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

                                                And the rest is pretty basic… come up with a stirfry sauce of soy sauce, fish sauce, chile paste. And then stirfry some ground pork with garlic and shallots and mix!!

                                                http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

                                                But I decided to be cute and add a few more things like... Chinese Black Fungus…

                                                http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

                                                I also wanted to make this more of a center of the plate dish, so I added some stirfried Bok Choy!

                                                http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

                                                And THEN I mixed! And it all came together wonderfully!!

                                                http://members.aol.com/pmgon/Chowhoun...

                                                SO raved (Although he wanted more meat) and it made an awesome lunch the next day… which I just so happened to make a quick Borders run… It was March 1st and I was happy I had completed my cook book of the month! So I went over to the cookbooks and see what page I could find these Spicy Noodles… NO Spicy Noodles anywhere like these in the book… I thought… well maybe then the sauce was from the book… NOPE, not in it either… ARGH!!!

                                                And so, that is why I’m posting a month late… I think I’m over my embarrassment and promise to be sure to do APRIL’s cook book of the month right… which means BY the BOOK… literally…

                                                http://whatgeekseat.com/wordpress/rec...

                                                --Dommy!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                  Dommy! that looks so good, I don't care that's it not in the book. The thought was there - maybe this will be the INSPIRED BY section, . ; ) Now I'm really really hungry.

                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                    fyi: all of dommy's links in the post above are shut down, except the last one from whatgeekseat.

                                                  2. Fresh Noodle Sheets p. 121

                                                    Tired of constant disappointment from the fresh rice noodles that I come across in the stores, I thought I would give this home-made version a whirl and see how it went. The "fresh" (and I use that term loosely) noodles in the shops near me are often full of preservatives, boasting a shelf-life of suspicious length. They are also nearly as dried-out as the legitimate dried noodles, yet all seem to dissolve readily upon contact with a hot wok. My fingers were crossed for this endeavor, though nearly anything would be better than the alternative.

                                                    The method: The batter is a thin concoction of rice flour, tapioca starch(or potato starch) and corn starch dissolved in water and set aside for 1/2 hour or so. A lightly oiled 8" non-stick pan is set on med-low, a large plate is oiled for the cooled rice sheets, and a baking tray is generously slathered with oil as well for the just-cooked ones.. All this fat is a bit startling, but it is definitely needed for these sticky guys, and most of it gets washed away later anyway. 1/4 c of batter is swirled into the pan to evenly coat-this takes some practice-and the pan is tightly covered with a lid. The rice sheets cook for one minute, at which point you are to check on the progress. The surface should be bubbly but not tacky, cooking slightly longer if necessary. The pliable disc is then transferred to the oiled baking pan and turned to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining batter. As noodles are cooled, they are schlepped to the greased plate, stacked on top of one another.
                                                    I got about 12 sheets total from this batch, or 1 1/2 lbs of noodles, in under a 1/2 hour of active cooking time. Because the only non-stick pan I had was warped, I forever struggled with getting an even layer of batter, but eventually found what worked for me. There was a a bit of play required to find the correct temperature. At first it was too low, and when I lifted the sheets from the pan, there was a thin skin left behind, a lacy, crispy film that looked eerily like snake skin. The biggest problem I had with the noodles was the opposite of what the author's mentioned. The sheets were always too dry on top, yet still sticky on the bottom. Turning the heat up mostly solved this, and the oil-dredging prevented disaster. I was concerned that the noodles would be chewy from that problem, but they softened up eventually.
                                                    The noodle sheets are surprisingly stong and can handle a decent amount of handling and cutting without sticking too badly to each other. However, after slicing them into strips, I rinsed under warm water as directed, and they lost their supple resistance and became too soft and started to break up.

                                                    I used the noodles to make "favorite noodles with greens and gravy", p.116, and these required a quick fry in a wok. They stuck to be pan a bit, but not too much, and after their initial softening from the rinse seemed to hold together better, though what were once 6-8" strips were now 1-3" curls. No matter, they were delicious! The greens and gravy dish I'd made several times before, always with sub-par noodles, always with less-than-stellar results. After tasting them in their full glory, now I know why they are so loved. This dish was sublime. The sweet chile-vinegar mix that I had poured freely over the recipe before in an attempt to boost flavours wasn't even touched this time. I will always make fresh noodles when I want to enjoy this recipe from now on.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                      I think you must be the only person I know of who has ever made rice noodles at home. Impressive, really impressive.

                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        I am lucky enough to have a good source of fresh rice noodles. But I have made this recipe and found it easier than I'd expected. There was a little bit of a learning curve, so they didn't all stick together, and they didn't look perfect, but it was satisfying to be able to make them myself, too.

                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                          Very impressive!

                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                            Thanks, all! Just a dedicated food nerd......
                                                            They were really fun to make actually, and a lot easier than expected. I probably wouldn't have tried them if I had access to good noodles, but there you have it. Desperate times, etc.
                                                            In another cookbook, I believe Nguyen's Asian Dumplings, she has a recipe for fresh noodle sheets too, and her method is slightly different--something to do with steaming the batter in a pan within a water bath, if memory serves me correctly. I'll have to look into that one too, 'cause this is a good little side project that I would like to get more of a handle on.

                                                            Oh, and for the record about the noodle with greens dish: I enjoyed the recipe with the 1.5 lbs (vs. 2 lbs) of noodles to the full amount of 'gravy', and would add extra (almost double) bok choy next time.