11 July 2014

Loving the Thai noodle

There is this fantastic place in Portland called SenYai Noodles--it's actually part of Andy Ricker's delicious empire, which includes Whiskey Soda Lounge and PokPok.  They're all worth visiting, but what I especially like about SenYai is its casual, noodle-centric menu.  As you know, I HEART CARBS, and I am no snob towards ramen.  Neither is Andy Ricker. SenYai specialized in Thai-style noodle dishes, because the good people of Thailand are apparently in love with noodles morning, noon, and night, as well.

Portland, however, is a long drive from NoCo, so I have had to get crafty and create my own little SenYai at home.  It's not as hip as the real thing, but I don't have to put on shoes, and I can usually coax a cat into my lap while I eat.

Disclaimer: these recipes contain shortcuts to accommodate American grocery stores and people who don't have all freakin; day to make a pot of noodles. I make no claims towards authenticity. These dishes are best served with a lovely glass of Cha Boraan while listening to Dengue Fever (I know they're Cambodian-American, but I love them, and you should, too).

Kuaytiaw (Thai Street Vendor Noodles)

Serves 6-8

About a gallon of beef or pork stock
1 package angel hair pasta
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
3-4 cups bean sprouts 
1/4 cup ground pork 
2 Tbs kimchi
2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach 
3-4  scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro  
Lots of Pepper and lime wedges for serving

Heat the stock in a large pot; when it boils, cook the pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook.

Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, cook the ground pork with the garlic and ginger until it is lightly browned and cooked through, taking care to break the meat up into small crumbles. Remove from heat and drain all but two tablespoons of the oil from the pan. Stir in the kimchi to heat through. 

When noodles are done, add the cooked pork, scallions, fish sauce, and spinach to the pot and stir to combine.  Place equal amounts of bean sprouts in the bottom of each serving bowl and ladle soup on top. Sprinkle cilantro on top, season with black pepper, and squeeze lime over the bowl before eating. 

Gai Pad Kee Mao ("Drunken Noodles")

Serves 6-8

6 ounces of wide rice noodles or fettuccine pasta
peanut oil for frying
1/4 cup of chopped shrimp (optional)
1/2 cup of chopped chicken (optional)
1/4 cup of firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon ground red chili
1/4 cup bean sprouts
1 tablespoon chopped mixed red and green jalapeno peppers
1 coriander plant, chopped
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
3-4 red jalapenos, julienned and freshly ground black pepper to serve

Soak the noodles in water for about 15 minutes; take about a third of them and cut the ribbons into short pices (about 2" long). The remaining two thirds of the noodles should be plunged into boiling water, and cooked until "toothy" then removed and placed on the serving plate. Conversely, if using fettuccine, cook in boiling water according to package directions, drain, and divide as in preceding directions.

If desired, the tofu can be marinated in some soy sauce to which a couple of sliced chilis are added.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the oil, and when it shimmers, stir fry the noodles until crispy. Remove to a plate and add the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, until cooked through (if you want the sauce thickened add a little flour or cornstarch mixed with water) and then pour over the boiled noodles. Add the fried noodles, jalapenos, and black pepper to the final dish as a garnish.