You, too, can cook a fabulous platter of stir-fried rice noodles right in your own kitchen if you follow a few simple rules. First, prepare the dried rice noodles so that they will soften and season themselves with just a few turns in the hot pan. Second, set everything you’ll need right by the stove, measured out and ready to cook. Third, have a serving platter and any guests handy, because hot-out-of-the pan noodles are a true Asian treat. Once you’ve cooked this a time or two, you’ll know how to create noodle feasts galore based on what you like and have handy. Leave out the pork, or toss in mushrooms, zucchini, or shredded carrots. Scramble an egg into the pan near the end of cooking, add a spoonful of chopped fresh chilies or hot sauce, or finish the dish with cilantro, chopped peanuts, and a squeeze of lime. It may never be quite as easy for you as making a sandwich, but it might be close. Wide rice noodles are the typical choice, but use any width of fresh or softened rice noodle, Chinese egg noodles, or any cooked pasta.
- ¼ pound fettuccine- or linguine-width dried rice noodles
- 6 green onions, trimmed, white part coarsely chopped, and green tops cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- ¼ pound boneless pork, cut against the grain into thin, 2-inch strips, or Chinese-style roast pork or roast duck
- 12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2½ cups fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts (optional)
Soften the rice noodles in warm water to cover until they become flexible and bright white, 15 to 20 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drain the softened noodles, add them to the pot, and remove from the heat. Let stand for 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well and put in a bowl by the stove. You will have about 2½ cups of noodles.
In a small bowl, combine the green onion tops, fish sauce, water, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper, and stir well to dissolve the sugar and salt. Place by the stove, along with tongs or a big spatula for moving the noodles around all the remaining ingredients.
In a large, deep skillet or a wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and the white portion of the green onions and toss well. Add the pork and cook just until it changes color, about 1 minute. Add the fish sauce mixture, toss well, and then add the noodles. Cook for 1 minute or so, tossing and pushing the noodles to season and heat them evenly, then push them to one side and add the shrimp.
Cook the shrimp on one side until pink. Toss to let the other side cook, and then add the spinach and bean sprouts (if using). Gently scoop up the mass of noodles to cover the shrimp and vegetables, and let them cook for 30 seconds. Toss everything well, adding up to ¼ cup water if the pan is getting dry. Check to see that the pork and shrimp are cooked through, and transfer the noodles to a serving platter. Pull a few shrimp to the top and serve at once.