Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Drunken Noodles

Bangkok Style Drunken Noodles

Fatigued and hungry revelers in Bangkok who seek a middle-of-the-night meal are given this spicy noodle dish (the hot chilies are meant to wake you up). But even milder versions are delicious, so if your spice-o-meter tends to stay near mild, not to worry - this noodle recipe is delicious with or without chilies. And it can be made vegetarian (as in this recipe), or with shrimp or chicken, according to your taste. As a bonus, the addition of lots of vegetables means these noodles are healthy as well as delicious. So party on!

8-10 oz. dried wheat or egg noodles, OR instant-type noodles (SERVES 3-4)
2 kaffir lime leaves, sliced very thinly, or cut into thin strips with scissors (remove stem)
2 shallots, thinly sliced and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece galangal (or ginger), sliced thinly 
1 red chilli, sliced finely (and de-seeded if milder noodles are desired)
1/2 pkg. firm tofu (if non-vegetarian, you can substitute shrimp or bite-size pieces of chicken)
3 tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, OR 1 cup bok choy or other Chinese-type cabbage
approx. 1 cup bean sprouts
approx. 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped if large
oil for stir-frying
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground bean sauce (also called "yellow bean" - it is actually a soy bean sauce found in Asian groceries)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar (or substitute white vinegar)
1 Tbsp. vegetarian fish sauce (or regular fish sauce) - available at Chinese/Vietnamese/Asian food stores
1 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. brown sugar 
Optional: 1/2 to 1 tsp. Thai chili sauce (see below for homemade recipe), OR 1-2 fresh red chilies, minced 
Place noodles in a pot of boiling water over medium-high heat. Stir until noodles have separated. When cooked "al dente" (chewy - not too soft), drain and rinse with cold water (to prevent sticking).

To make the stir-fry sauce, place all sauce ingredients in a cup and stir well. Do a taste test (note that the sauce will be very strong at this point - it will be diluted later when added to the noodles). If too sour, add a little more sugar. If not salty enough, add more fish sauce. 
In a wok or large/deep frying pan over medium to high heat, add a few Tbsp. oil plus the lime leaves, shallots, garlic, galangal (or ginger), red chili, and tofu. (If you are using chicken or shrimp, add them at this point as well.) Stir-fry 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Stir-frying tip: When wok/pan becomes too dry, add a little water, white wine or sherry (or cooking wine), or broth 1 Tbsp. at a time (instead of adding more oil). This will save you calories and added fat. 

Add the broccoli and stir-fry another 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until broccoli has turned bright green. 
Add the stir-fry sauce plus the noodles and tomatoes. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, turning the noodles as you fry in order to incorporate sauce. 
Remove from heat and add the bean sprouts and coriander leaves. Toss in the wok to combine. 
Do a taste test for salt, adding more fish sauce (instead of salt) if needed. If too salty for your taste, add another squeeze of lime juice. If the noodles don't have enough heat, add more fresh chili or chili sauce (see below for recipe link). 
Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve with Thai chili sauce, either store-bought or my own homemade Nam Prik Pao Chili Sauce Recipe. This dish goes especially well with a cold lager (or a glass of chilled white wine). Enjoy!

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