Making Mom’s Famous Vinegared Shrimp last week reminded me of how much I enjoy Ming Tsai’s mixing of Eastern and Western cuisine. I found his website and discovered that it lists recipes from his tv shows, so I started browsing for something else to make and found today’s entry, My Crazy Chicken Rice-Noodle Stir-fry.
This dish has two ingredients I’ve never used before, rice-noodles and sambal. Rice-noodles are quite common and I found those at my regular grocery store. I’d never even heard of sambal before, so I looked it up on the InterWebs and learned enough to know that I’d probably need to visit LeeLee Supermarket to get it. LeeLee is an awesome place for almost any kind of Asian/Indian/<practically any place not French, British, Canadian, or probably Mexican> food, fresh, canned or bottled. It can be a little intimidating though, at least it is for me. There are species of sea creatures featured that don’t appear on any menu I’ve ever seen, and vegetables and fruits that look like something you’d see in a reality TV series titled “Bet You Won’t Eat That.”
Most of the product labels are in script native to the article’s origin and thus, indecipherable to me. There aren’t any “customer service” people wandering around ready to help you find things, at least none I can ever identify. Everyone is really busy either ringing up purchases (workers), or selecting things to purchase (customers). It’s not that anyone is openly hostile to me, it’s just that I get the feeling they all secretly enjoy my wandering around with a confused expression on my face. The store has recently put big labels over the aisles identifying the country of origin, so I was able to find the “Indonesia” aisle pretty easily. Eventually I was able to find a section of various sambals, and just chose one that looked interesting.
Prep for this recipe is quite simple, although Ming and I had a difference of opinion on prepping the rice noodles. Ming says “soak noodles in warm water until tender, about 20 minutes.” After 20 minutes, my rice noodles were barely even wet, never mind tender. Same thing after 40 minutes… I finally decided that what Ming meant was “bring a pot of water to just boiling, remove from heat and add noodles to soak, when tender, proceed.”
The rest of the prep is just slicing shallots, mixing the sauce, and mincing the basil and scallions. The chicken is already ground up, so no work there. After the noodles are (finally) tender, heat up the wok and get ready to eat!
This is a stir-fry dish, so once the cooking starts it’s over in a flash. Heat the wok to medium-high/high and have your ingredients ready to go. It takes just a few minutes to cook the shallots and chicken, then add the rest and stir until heated through.
Plate it immediately and dress the individual portions with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, it really brightens up the flavor works great with the sauce.
Rating: For a first attempt at this recipe, it was very successful. I think it needed a little more heat, so I’ll increase the amount of sambal I use next time, and it could use a little more color. I haven’t decided what to do about the color part yet, but it will probably involve another vegetable. I think I’ll also dial back the amount of rice noodles a touch, although perhaps a thinner noodle (these are Pad Thai) would change the balance. I give my first effort 4 out of 5 glasses of Bintang. Kathleen had seconds, so she’s in agreement.