The first time I attempted to make fresh rice noodles at home, I failed. Pretty miserably, actually. I looked at my giant clump of noodles, thought to myself, “They’ll separate in the wok, right?”. Spoiler alert: they didn’t. (I ate them anyways. Noodles and I don’t part ways lightly.)
This weekend was pretty low-key, though, and so I decided to attempt it again. (Nothing says party hard like a weekend of errands, cleaning and cooking. Whoo!) After some Googling, I discovered that I wasn’t the only person to run into this. When I buy fresh rice noodles from my local Asian grocery store, they essentially come in one giant block. If you attempt to break them apart, you just get tiny rice noodle bits. Not good. But I’m pretty determined when it comes to the pursuit of good noodles, so I tried the microwave. After a lot of trial and error, I came to the conclusion that warm noodles are easy to separate (hurray!), cold noodles break and make you sad, and hot noodles burn your fingers and also make you sad. Also, be prepared to spend thirty minutes of your life slowly separating out strand by strand.
This recipe from Jet Tila was worth it, though. I think they’re called drunken noodles because they’re a late night drinking dish, but I would eat them at all times of day. They’re a delicious, soy-sauce based, salty-sweet bowl of goodness. It does require a trip to your local Asian grocery store for some speciality ingredients, but the actual cooking is simple – it’s the prep that takes all the time! Maybe if you get better noodles than me (or have more nimble fingers), you’ll have better luck. I made it vegetarian, but trust me, you don’t miss the meat – if you do, add back some prawns. This was delicious and carby enough that I have the energy to get back to staring at wedding photographer portfolios and wondering how on earth I will ever pick one.
Adapted slightly from Jet Tila’s 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die. Serves 3, maybe 4 if you’re all lighter eaters.
- 2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp Sriracha (I used 1/2 tsp because I’m a wimp about heat)
- 1 tsp minced garlic (around 1 clove)
- 6-8 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade. This is a fancy word for minced.
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1 serrano chili
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced
- 4 cups (960 ml) fresh rice noodles, separated
- 1 cup (20 g) Thai basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup (100 g) grape tomatoes, halved
- Before you start: are your noodles separated? Can you see the individual strands? If you can’t, you are going to be really sad when you put them in the wok. The easiest way I found to separate them was to take the entire package (styrofoam and all, yes, I know, I may die from some kind of microwave poisoning) and microwave it for about a minute. Test to see if the noodles feel warm, and if not, give it more time. Once they’re warm, they’re much much easier to peel apart. You can put the separated ones on a bowl or a plate until you’re ready to use them. If you get through the top layer and they’re cold again, back to the microwave they go.
- Ok, noodles are good? Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a large wok, heat the oil over high heat. Once it’s hot (you can drop a tiny piece of garlic in and see if it sizzles), add the garlic and saute until it’s light brown. If it’s hot, this usually takes around 10 – 20 seconds, so be ready to move fast.
- Add the eggs and chili and lightly scramble the eggs until they are barely set. Jet thinks a minute, I think more like 30 seconds.
- Add the noodles and sauce and toss to combine. Cook for about 4 minutes, tossing around, until the noodles are hot, cooked through and coated well with sauce. Toss in the remaining basil and the tomatoes. Cook for about another minute.
- Serve hot and devour!