Rice noodles -- the dried brick vs fresh & soft... and where to find in D.C. area?
I love cooking Pad Thai, and always use the dried kind that come in an air-filled brick shape.
I've wondered if good Thai restaurants use the died stuff too... if they're working w/ fresh soft noodles... if there's a world of difference between the two... and where you can buy fresh rich noodle in our area.
Soft rice noodles can be found in a vacuum-sealed bag at H-Mart, but I doubt that's what restaurants opt for. Are they using the dried stuff? Is there an old man in an unmarked basement in Eden Center making the D.C. area's fresh rice noodle supply? Here's a map of D.C. area asian groceries if you know of a specific spot the carries the fresh stuff.
To my knowledge, Pad Thai is never, ever made with fresh rice noodles. It is always made with dried noodles, soaked in cold water.
Yes, I'd say there is a world of difference between the two. Fresh rice noodles have that awesome slippery, soft texture that dried ones can't replicate-- they are more chewy. Both are great IMO and each has its merits, just as fresh and dried Italian pastas do.
Fresh noodles are used for drunken noodles, pad see ew, and other dishes. You can get them at Duangrats market, the Eden Center's grocery store, Bangkok 54 market, and the bigger markets as well, I believe....like Grand Mart, H Mart, and Great Wall (though I'm not 100% sure on those)
Most places that carry fresh noodles get them from a supplier in Maryland, I think. When I buy them, they always come with an oily film on top and are quite stiff. I usually run some warm water over them, let them sit a minute or two, and then cut them into very wide ribbons, separate them, and then dry them off (a messy but necessary process if you want a good wok char). One package usually is too big for one trip to the wok, so I make two batches of whatever---usually drunken noodles. Mmm.