There’s just something about rice noodles that seem so…. cool to me. Maybe it’s because they’re so different from the standard flour-based noodles I grew with under my German and Italian parents. The texture is so much more flimsy that the first time I had them it blew my mind. “These are noodles? Seriously?”
I don’t cook with rice noodles that often and perhaps that’s what keeps it special for me; absence making the heart grow fonder and such. For New Years Eve I decided to cook my lady friend a special dinner of one of her favorite dishes: drunken noodle with thai iced tea. Both were a big success, but I felt the drunken noodle had room for improvement. It needed more veggies (reoccuring theme in my life), so I decided to give it another shot with my own spin. The second time around was an improvement but I still wanted more vegetables so I’ve modified the recipe accordingly. My new best friend cauliflower is making another appearance.
Drunken Noodles get their name not from the inclusion of alcohol but for the vast amounts of liquid you’ll need to get through the heat. As I mentioned in my last post, I can’t handle much spice in my food so I really brought this one down in intensity. Thai chiles are friggin’ HOT and I made the folly of trying a piece after chopping a few. This….. did not go well. If you’re more manly than I am then just up the amount of these you use; up to a 1/4 cup (maybe more? good lord). The same goes with the Tien Tsin chiles. If you don’t have these, then don’t bother buying them just for this recipe. Just substitute in more thai chiles. This dish is great because you can adjust the amount of heat to your liking with little effort. I will definitely be coming back to this.
Mild Drunken Noodle with Many Veggies
adapted from Epicurious
1 12 ounce package of rice flakes
4 tablespoons peanut oil
1 anaheim/cubanelo chile; cut into strips
2 green bell peppers; cut into strips
8 cloves of garlic; minced
1 Thai chile; chopped
4 Tien Tsin dried chili peppers
1 head of broccoli; cut broken into florets
1 head of cauliflower; broken into florets
1 large carrot; peeled and into small planks
1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup “regular” soy sauce (feel free to use low sodium. I did.)
1 tablespoon sweetener (splenda works but so does sugar)
1/2 cup fresh Thai or regular basil leaves
Cut the broccoli and cauliflower florets into small, roughly equal size pieces. The larger florets you’ll quarter, the mediums you’ll cut into thirds, etc.
Under high heat, heat two tablespoons of oil in a hot wok then add the bell peppers, cubanelo chile and thai chile. Stir fry until softened; about 1 minute. Add the dried peppers and half the garlic and cook briefly until fragrant, about 20 seconds, followed immediately by another table spoon of oil along with the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Continue to stir fry until vegetables begin to soften; 3-4 minutes. Move everything out of the wok into a bowl.
Bring the wok to medium-high heat. While reheating bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the remaining table spoon of oil and garlic together until fragrant but not burning; one minute or less. Add the ground chicken and cook until “browned.”
At the same time you add the chicken to the wok, throw the rice flakes into the boiling water, stirring occasionally, these should only take a few minutes to boil; roughly the same time it takes to brown the chicken. These will stick and clump together very easily, so be sure to stir on occasion and add to the stir fry immediately after straining.
Once the chicken is ready, raise to high temperature and return the vegetables to the wok along with the rice flakes, sauces and sweetener. Cook until everything is heated and coated and the sauces have enough so the dish is wet but not runny. Once ready remove from heat
Serve with some chopped basil and tall glass of your beverage of choice.