Monday, May 23, 2011

Pad Woon Sen

This is a "dry" noodle dish, meaning that it is not at all saucy or "juicy".   Traditionally, it is made with fish sauce and no soy...but fish sauce is absolutely putrid so I don't use a lot of it- I find that a tablespoon is plenty to impart the savory flavor fish sauce brings without overwhelming the dish.  If you can't find fish sauce, just substitute soy sauce...just keep in mind that you risk inciting the wrath of the Thai Gods.  Pad woon sen also traditionally contains scrambled egg, but I'm not overly fond of egg in noodle dishes so I don't use egg either (despite this indiscretion the Thai Gods haven't struck me down yet).   Finally, a teaspoon or so of grated fresh ginger is good in this, if you have it on hand (I didn't).

A word on the cooking method:  It is MUCH easier and quicker to cook this using a wok stirring constantly over a blazing inferno, but I have done it successfully using a skillet over average heat as well. I like the consistency that cooking over high heat brings to the chicken and for me it is easier to not overcook my vegetables this way.

1 6-oz package mung bean noodles (cellophane noodles)
1 lb chicken, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon to one tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or grated (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil (olive works fine)
1 medium onion, chopped
Chopped fresh vegetables, about 2-3 cups' worth (I use whatever I have on hand; carrots, broccoli, celery, red pepper, carrots, bean sprouts, etc etc)

1 T fish sauce
3 T soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar

chicken broth
Siracha or red pepper flakes, to taste

Mix fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar; set aside.  Soak noodles in tepid water for at least 15 minutes.  While noodles are soaking, heat oil in wok at the highest heat your stove can crank out (a gas range is far superior for this, I think).  When oil begins to smoke, add chicken and garlic and ginger.  Much spatter will result.  Duck!  As tempting as it may be, do not turn down heat.  Cook chicken for a couple minutes, stirring constantly.  Add onions.  Saute until chicken is nearly cooked through; add soy and fish sauce mixture, red pepper flakes or Siracha, and remaining vegetables and cook until vegetables have nearly reached desired consistency.  (I like mine bright green and crunchy, so the cooking time is very short).  Add noodles (drained) and a little chicken broth.  Cook for 30 seconds or so or until noodles have absorbed the sauce and have become transparent.

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