A ridiculously delicious Rice noodle recipe

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Discover the tastiest Rice noodle recipe

The key to creating outstanding Thai food can be summed up in one word: balance. Whether it’s a creamy green curry, steaming soup neua or zingy som tam, all Thai dishes strive for that perfect balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty flavours, each one punchy without overpowering the others.

But while this delicate interplay runs through the expansive range of the nation’s dishes, Thailand’s culinary heritage is remarkably localised. Head north to the ancient cities of Lampang and Chiang Mai and the dishes you’ll encounter bear witness to the region’s relatively cool climate, with its mild seasonal food rich with bitter flavours. Further east, nearby Laos flaunts its culinary influence and, direct from the banks of the Mekong, freshwater fish dominates Isaan menus. Head for the beaches of the south and, unsurprisingly, seafood reigns supreme, while the chilli wields its might most heavily here too. And in Bangkok, the geography of the central plains, influences of the country’s predominate minorities and the wealth of the royal palace have all served to shape the local cuisine.

But what doesn’t vary, no matter which region you find yourself in, is the Thai people’s emotional connection to food. Wherever they’re found, these dishes signify history and heritage: a family recipe, created in the same way for generations, or a regional tradition, evolving with the twists and turns of geography and social history. The cult of food is an incredibly powerful theme to the Thai, for this is no fast-food cuisine: rich stocks bubble and simmer, patiently, for hours, while spices are pounded vigorously by hand, over and over, the better to draw out their complex flavours. And, come mealtimes, eating in Thailand is a communal affair, the food shared around the family table as the day’s tales unfold.

Make no mistake: in Thailand, it’s not just food. It’s a labour of love.

RICE NOODLES WITH COCONUT SAUCE

Mii kathi

Coconut cream and, well, ketchup come together in this sweet and rich noodle dish with origins in Thailand’s royal palace.

Source // Khun Mallika Thamwattana

Location // Ruen Mallika restaurant, Bangkok

Thai cuisine, always blending ingredients new and old, and from across the world, can hardly be accused of being conservative. And a classic example of this is mii kathi, a dish of fried rice noodles served with a dressing that includes some unexpected seasonings.

“I think mii kathi may originally have come from the Royal Palace,” explains Mallika Thamwattana, owner of Bangkok restaurant Ruen Mallika, “because it’s somewhat sweet and uses rich ingredients from central Thailand.”

The richness in question stems from the addition of coconut cream, a crucial ingredient in the dish’s dressing, and a common yet expensive commodity in Bangkok and central Thailand. “We make our own coconut cream fresh every day, but most street vendors can’t afford to use it, and some use whole milk instead,’ explains the restaurateur and native of Bangkok.

Another layer of flavour comes, somewhat unusually, from the addition of ketchup. ‘Mii kathi includes ketchup for colour and also to give the dish a sour flavour,” explains Mallika. “The dish should taste tart followed by sweet and salty. It shouldn’t be spicy, but if you like spice, you can add a bit of dried chilli. Otherwise, it doesn’t require any additional seasoning.” Mii kathi revolves around sen mii, thin, vermicelli noodles made from rice flour. “You have to use sen mii,” explains Mallika, “probably to differentiate the dish from phat thai, which uses flat rice noodles, and also because they do a good job of absorbing flavours.”

The noodle dish is an example of what the Thais call ahaan jaan diaw, or a one-dish  meal. “You don’t need to serve it with anything else,” says Mallika, of mii kathi. As such, there’s a conscious effort to include every flavour in the dish. “Mii kathi has no bitter flavour, so we serve it with raw banana blossom, which is astringent. If you can’t get that, you can serve it with bean sprouts or green onions.” 

RICE NOODLES WITH COCONUT SAUCE

Mii kathi

Serves 2

Preparation time: 1 hr

Cooking time: 15 mins

Ingredients

2 tbsp oil

2 eggs, beaten

150g (5 oz) dried thin vermicelli rice noodles (sen mii)

100ml (3½ fl oz) tomato ketchup

100ml (3½ fl oz) coconut milk

handful garlic chives, chopped

100g (3½ oz) bean sprouts

combination of bitter or astringent vegetables or herbs such as banana blossom, Asian

pennywort or bean sprouts, to serve

limes, cut into wedges, to serve

For the coconut sauce

75g (3 oz) shallots, finely sliced

1 onion, finely chopped

380ml (13 fl oz) coconut cream

50g (2 oz) minced prawns

50g (2 oz) minced chicken

50g (2 oz) fermented soybeans, chopped

2½ tbsp sugar

225ml (7½ fl oz) tamarind sauce

(see page 13)

2 tbsp fish sauce

5 tbsp tomato ketchup

130g (4½ oz) firm tofu, diced

METHOD
1. 
In a wok or medium-sized pan, add the oil and place over a medium heat. When hot, add the eggs, coating the base of the wok to make a thin omelette. When almost cooked, flip the omelette over. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Fold the omelette into thirds and slice it into thin strips. Set aside.

2. Make the coconut dressing. In a saucepan over a low heat, combine the shallots, onion and 80ml (2½ fl oz) of the coconut cream and simmer for 15–20 minutes until fragrant. Increase the heat to medium, add the remaining coconut cream and bring to a simmer. Add the minced prawns and chicken along with the fermented soybeans, stirring to combine. Stir in the sugar, tamarind, fish sauce and ketchup. Bring everything to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then add the tofu, stirring gently to combine and simmer to heat the tofu through. Take the saucepan off the heat and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, soak the rice noodles in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

4. Place a wok or frying pan over a medium heat, add the ketchup and coconut milk, stirring to combine until reduced slightly. Add the drained rice noodles, stir-frying

until the noodles have absorbed the ketchup mixture. Finally, add the garlic chives and bean sprouts, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat.

5 . To serve, divide the noodles onto four serving plates, top each with some sliced omelette, the coconut dressing and your chosen optional sides.

FromTheSource_Thailand_cvr RGB150dpi

Recipe and extract taken from  Lonely Planet’s From the Source – Thailand (£19.99; out now)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,