Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thai Crispy Noodles with Beef

Rice vermicelli are very fine, dry, white noodles bundled in large fragile loops and sold in packets. They are deep-fried before being added to this dish, and in the process they expand to at least four times their original size. Recipe serves 4.


About 1 pound (500 g) rump or sirloin steak
Teriyaki sauce, for sprinkling
6 ounces (175 g) rice vermicelli
Groundnut oil for deep-frying and stir-frying
8 spring onions, diagonally sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4-5 carrots, cut into julienne strips
1-2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely sliced
2 small zucchini, diagonally sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh root ginger
4 tablespoons white or yellow rice vinegar
6 tablespoons light soy sauce
About 2 cups spicey stock


1. Beat out the steak,if necessary, to about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Place in a shallow dish, brush generously with the teriyaki sauce and set aside for 2-4 hours to marinate.
2. Separate the rice vermicelli into manageable loops and spread several layers of kitchen paper on a very large plate. Add the oil to a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm) in a large wok and heat until a strand of vermicelli cooks as soon as it is lowered into the oil.
3. Carefully add a loop of vermicelli to the oil. It should immediately expand and become opaque. Turn the noodles over so that the strands cook on both sides and then transfer the cooked noodles to the plate. Repeat the process until all the noodles are cooked. transfer the cooked noodles to a separate wok or deep serving bowl and keep them warm while you cook the steak and vegetables.
4. Strain the oil from the wok into a heatproof bowl and set it aside. Heat 1 tablespoon groundnut oil in the clean wok. When it sizzles, fry the steak for about 30 seconds on each side until browned. Transfer to a board and cut into thick slices. The meat should be well browned on the outside but still pink inside. Set aside.
5. Add a little extra oil to the wok and stir-fry the spring onions, garlic and carrots over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the carrots are slightly soft and have a glazed appearance. Add the chilies, zucchini and ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes more.
6. Stir in the rice vinegar, soy sauce and stock. Cook for about 4 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the steak and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
7. Pour the steak, vegetables and all the mixture over the noodles and toss lightly and carefully to mix. Serve at once.

Tip: As soon as you add the meat mixture to the noodles, they will soften. If you wish to keep a few crispy noodles, stir some to the surface so they do not come into contact with the hot liquid.

Thai Fried Rice

This substantial dish is based on Thai fragrant rice, which is sometimes known as jasmine rice. Chicken, red pepper and sweetcorn add color and extra flavor. Recipe serves 4.


2 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk powder
1 3/4 cups Thai fragrant rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
8 ounce (250 g) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) dice
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup drained canned sweetcorn kernels
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
2 eggs, beaten
Spring onion shreds, to garnish


1. Pour the water into a saucepan and whisk in the coconut milk powder. Add the rice, bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 12 minutes or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Spread the rice on a baking sheet and leave until cold.
2. Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic, onion and ginger and stir-fry over a medium heat for 2 minutes.
3. Push the vegetables to the sides of the wok, add the chicken to the center and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir-fry over a high heat for about 3 minutes more.
4. Stir in the sliced red pepper, sweetcorn, chili oil and curry powder, with salt to taste. Toss over the heat for 1 minute. Stir in the beaten eggs and cook for 1 minute more. Garnish with spring onion shreds and serve.

Tip: It is important that the rice is completely cold before being fried and the oil is very hot, or the rice will absorb too much oil.

Festive Rice

This pretty Thai dish is traditionally shaped into a cone and surrounded by a variety of accompaniments before being served. Recipe serves 8.


2 1/2 cups Thai fragrant rice
4 tablespoons oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 onions, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups water
14 fl oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
1-2 lemon grass stalks, bruised
For the accompaniments:
Omelet strips
2 fresh red chilies, shredded
Cucumber chunks
Tomato wedges
Deep fried onions
Prawn crackers


1. Put the rice in a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan which has a lid. Fry the garlic, onion and turmeric over a low heat for a few minutes, until the onions are softened but not browned. Add the rice and stir well so that each grain is coated in oil.
3. Pour in the water and coconut milk and add the lemon grass. Bring to the boil, stirring well. Cover the pan and cook gently for 12 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and lift the lid. Cover with a clean dish towel, replace the lid and leave to stand in a warm place for 15 minutes. Remove the lemon grass, mound the rice mixture in a cone on a serving platter and garnish with the accompaniments. Serve immediately.

Tip: Look out for fresh turmeric at Asian markets or food stores.