Sunday, January 6, 2008

Easy Rice Noodle Stir-fry: Pad Se-ew

I added some tips (in bold) to make this recipe easier to follow. Let me know if it helps.

Happy New Year!

I know. I know. I’m late. I had every intention of posting sooner with my food-related favs of 2007 and resolutions for 2008, but that boat came and went and it seems a little untimely to do it now.

Instead I’ll tell you about one of my fav noodle dishes when I was a kid. It’s called pad se ew. This is the noodle dish mom made most often, probably because it’s so easy. Unlike pad Thai, the list of ingredients is relatively short. It’s also one of those dishes that gives you some flexibility with the ingredients. Mom always used Chinese broccoli, which doesn’t look or really taste like regular broccoli. It looks more like collard greens but tastes more like kale. If you can't get Chinese broccoli, kale, broccoli, broccolini or even asparagus will do. For the protein, you could use chicken, pork or tofu. I prefer to use fresh rice noodles (also called chow fun noodles), but you could always soak the dry rice noodles (like for pad Thai).

The main flavoring ingredient in this stir-fry is a mushroom flavored soy sauce. It has a smoother taste than regular soy sauce and I think that why it’s also referred to as light soy sauce (not to be confused with Chinese light soy sauce, which doesn't contain mushroom). It's actually thin soy sauce co-fermented with mushrooms. Mom always called it Healthy Boy, which is actually the brand she used. In fact, I don't know if there is another brand?? Unfortunately, I don’t think many grocery stores stock it, so you’ll need to visit your local Asian grocer. Or you could pay a little more and buy it online. BTW, this mushroom soy sauce is a great substitution for regular soy sauce in many stir-fries. Try it in fried rice and you’ll see.

Mushroom soy sauce is not as harsh as regular soy sauce in the same way that kosher salt is not as harsh as regular iodized salt.

Pad Se-ew with Broccoli and Tofu
Serves 4
  • 2 tsp regular soy sauce
  • 3 tbs mushroom flavored soy sauce (also referred to as light soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp sugar (I prefer brown, but white is fine)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ block tofu, cubed (or the protein of your choice)
  • 1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten (depending on how much you like eggs)
  • 1 to 2 cups broccoli florets (or one bunch washed and well-dried kale or Chinese broccoli)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound fresh, wide rice noodles (also called chow fun), strands separated (or about 8 oz dried wide rice sticks, soaked in boiling water until semi-soft, drained well and lightly oiled to prevent sticking*)
Make the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, mushroom soy sauce and sugar together. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside, but remember to stir it before using. [BTW, I always recommend making a double portion of the sauce mix. Everyone has a different preference for salt. You may feel like you want to use more sauce and it's annoying to rush around throwing more sauce together when you're stir-frying. You can spike the leftover sauce with some chili garlic sauce or sambal and use as a condiment.]

In a hot wok over high heat, add about 1 or 2 tbs oil (don’t use olive oil; it sucks for stir-frying). When it’s smoking, add the broccoli and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want it to be tender-crisp (more crisp than tender because you’ll cook it further later). Remove it from the wok and set it aside.

Add 2 more tablespoons oil to the wok. When hot, add the tofu (or meat). Stir-fry, stirring only occasionally, until the tofu begins to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue for 30 seconds. Slowly drizzle the egg down the sides of the wok and cook until they are just set. Add the noodles and pre-cooked broccoli and stir-fry for a minute or two, until the noodles begin to soften. Add half to 2/3 of the sauce mix and stir-fry to coat the noodles. Taste the noodles and add more sauce mix if necessary. It's done when the noodles are cooked through. Serve immediately.

Don’t forget to serve with accompaniments, such as roughly ground chili pepper and wedge of lime. My favorite is a vinegar chili sauce, which you've probably seen at noodle houses. A quick version of the sauce can be made by combining 1 tbs fish sauce, 1 tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar and fresh or jarred jalapeno peppers to taste. If you have extra sauce, try spiking it with chili garlic sauce or sambal and serving as a condiment.

*You may want to read the post I did, which compared the fresh rice noodles to the rice sticks. Here is the link.


Manggy said...

Looks good, Darlene. Unfortunately I've never seen Healthy Boy before. I wonder what would happen if I left some dried mushrooms in light soy sauce. Good call on the chili too (hee hee).
PS Your photography is getting better too. Is there any way you can adjust the curves or levels to make the colors pop more?

dp said...

Manggy, thanks! If you experiment with the dried mushrooms, you'll have to let me know how it turns out.

About the fotos...thank you! I admit I don't really have the eye for it, but since doing this blog thing, I've become more interested in photography. Currently, I just take a bunch of photos and hope that one or two look appetizing enough to use :-) I enrolled in a class (to start next week!) in beginning photography and digital foto editing. I'm very excited and hopefully it will help.

Anonymous said...

That looks so delicious! It has been ages since I made any sort of stir fry....I might just have to break out the wok one of these days!

dp said...

Cedar, bust out that wok! You will find this stir-fry super easy!

tigerfish said...

Love fried rice noodles. We have those wok-fried rice noodles in parts of SouthEast Asian that is unlike Pad Thai. I think you will like it. They call it Char Kway Teow!

dp said...

Tigerfish, I haven't met a rice noodle dish that I don't like :-) They really are my favorite type of noodle.

Chris said...

This dish does look delicious, I've had it many, many times, but never attempted to make it. This must change! :)

dp said...

Chris, I really encourage you to try it. You'll see it's easy. Besides, you can control the amount of fat and other ingredients. I know this dish is often served way too oily at many Thai restaurants, and it really doesn't need to be!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of mushroom soy sauce before. And I do like the name brand of it. I'd buy a bottle just so I could say "add a dash of healthy boy";)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe -- I made this the other night and it was great. The rice noodles were kind of hard to separate, but it worked out. And they ended up much less oily than most I've had from restaurants. Loved the mushroom soy sauce.

dp said...

Hello Anonymous!

I'm glad you tried and liked it! Yes, the noodles are hard to separate. They are much easier when they are at room temperature or not right out of the fridge. That's the tip I forgot to mention.

desie said...

sounds delish. i always buy this but have never tried it at home.
is chinese broccoli the same as 'gai lan' ?
will also have to look out for that type of soy sauce.

dp said...

Hi maybahay!

Thanks for stopping by.

Yes, I think Chinese broccoli is also called gai lan.

Of you can't find the soy sauce near you, ordering online is always an option!

Anonymous said...

I just made these last week, experimenting with the soaking dried shiitakes in soy sauce to get the mushroomy flavor. I soaked them for about an hour and the soy sauce came out fine. I posted the results:

Thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Darlene, I followed your recipe to a "t", and it was sort of disastrous. This is my girlfriend's favorite dish at Thai restaurants and I was happy to find a recipe. But something has to be seriously wrong with the recipe; there's not nearly enough liquid in your ingredients to soften the rice noodles in this recipe. I only used 9 oz. of noodles and they never got even partially cooked. I've used all sorts of rice pasta before and I know how to cook them, so I was curious how this was going to work. Well, following your recipe literally, it doesn't! Surely you left out something; there's no way this recipe works as described, tossing dry rice noodles into the wok and expecting them to cook with the addition of the liquid you list. I was so disappointed, but even worse was seeing the expression on my girlfriend's face (I didn't want her to taste it, but she insisted, much to our chagrin.)

I was forced to remove the ingredients and steam everything just to get the noodles soft enough to be edible.

Please re-read your recipe; are you SURE it doesn't require some other step to make it work? Like actually boiling the noodles first?

Dee said...

Avory, the only thing I can think of is the type of rice noodle you used. For this recipe, I used fresh rice noodles, which don't require pre-soaking. The strands have to be separated though, and that can be a pain. If you used rice sticks, I'm assuming you soaked them until they were semi-soft.

In any case, I'm sorry this recipe didn't work out for you. I will try making it again soon to see if there is something I forgot. It certainly happens.

Anonymous said...

Darlene...ah, that's it, perhaps I stumbled over the nomenclature. When you said rice noodles, I assumed you meant dried rice noodles, and I used the short, flat, wide rice noodles of the type I usually see in restaurants. Purchased dry, the packages do not say pre-soak (as I have done with rice sticks in th past) but says, "Add much broth and add to other ingredients..." I never imagined you used fresh rice noodles; I've never, ever seen fresh rice noodles and that explains everything. I would amend your recipe to make that clear, and amend the part that says cook the noodles until partially soft before adding the sauce to make sure everyone understands.

I also think a pound to a pound and a half of pasta is a bit much for this recipe. Nine ounces of the wide, flat, rice noodles was plenty, and any more would not have enough sauce to cover.

We are definitely going to try your recipe again now that I understand better, and I appreciate the your patience with my inquiry. I will report back on our second attempt!

Thank you for your kindness and your advice.

Dee said...

Avory, I'm glad you are willing to give this another try. I sometimes show pictures of the ingredients, and perhaps I should have this time.

I always appreciate when people comment on how to improve the recipe or directions. I will be making this dish again in the next couple of days just to make sure everything is still kosher. I will update with tips and such if it will help clarify.

PeasOnMoss said...

Darlene - thanks for the recipe! I am always in the mood for stir fry, but I usually have no idea what to make! This is a great and easy recipe! And the photos are looking good. I just started food blogging, so it's fun to look at the work of others who are honest food-lovers and not necessarily pros. I still have issues with a point-and-shoot concept of photography; forget still shots of food! Thanks again!