Monday, August 23, 2010

How fun, Chow Fun

Let me confess here and now, I enjoy international food. My family and I lived in Singapore when I was young, and I believe that had a big influence on my tastes. So many cultures and cuisines co-exist in Singapore and I was fortunate enough to be exposed to them early. Our friends and acquaintances were from all points on the globe and from many cultures: Australia, India, China, England, Malaysia, just to name a few. A beautiful city-state, Singapore is an amazing country that I'd be happy to visit anytime.

That said, this next dish was not something I recall from my time there, but rather, was one from a visit to PF Chang's. I love Asian food and really enjoy PF Chang's, even if it is a chain restaurant. I tried their Vegetable Chow Fun a while back and have been craving it since. After looking around online to discover that the same "Chicken Chow Fun" recipe got posted to all the copycat recipe sites, I decided to experiment a little for myself. This is what I came up with.

Chow Fun uses wide, flat rice noodles instead of egg or wheat flour based noodles. These are white, somewhat transparent, noodles. In other dishes, these noodles are sometimes fried, and become puffy and crunchy. This is what I found at a local international grocery. Inexpensive at $1.69 for 14 ounces. The recipes I found call for using all 14 ounces, but let me warn you it'll feed an army. These are apparently the Vietnamese version. They are called something different in Chinese. Just look for white, wide, flat rice noodles.

Now on to the recipe:

Vegetable Chow Fun
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Vinegar
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Oyster Mushroom Sauce *(see note)
2 tablespoons water (or mushroom broth)

Dish: (The veggies are your call. This is what I had on hand.)
14 ounces Rice Noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced (approx. 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon chili paste (I used Sriracha chili sauce)
1/2 small onion, sliced thin
3/4 of a green pepper, sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups fresh green beans after being trimmed and cut
7.5 ounces. baby corn (about 1/2 can)
4 ounces canned water chestnuts, sliced
4 ounces canned bamboo shoots
2 teaspoons Canola oil
1 teaspoon Sesame oil
Broth (I used mushroom, because I had a package open)

1. Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Lightly steam carrots and green beans.Just enough to tenderize them. Set aside.

3. Remove noodles from package and rinse under running water. Place into pot of boiling water. These will cook for about 6-8 minutes. (Check your package for directions.) You'll want these to be done just before you need to add them to your dish. After cooking drain and rinse again. I've seen instructions that instruct you to separate into smaller portions and cover with plastic wrap while you start cooking everything else. Just remember that they get super sticky after sitting for a few minutes.

4. Meanwhile, using just a little canola oil or broth, saute' garlic, and chili paste in a wok or large skillet (I didn't have either, so I used a large Dutch oven) for a dew seconds. Add onions and peppers and saute' until soft. Add sauce and remaining veggies and saute' for a couple of minutes until veggies are tender. Add rice noodles a little at a time, until total desired amount is added. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes to allow the noodles to absorb the sauce and are hot, about 2-4 minutes. Toss with sesame oil and serve. This was how it looked:

I used the whole 14 ounces, but I also doubled the sauce. The other recipes I saw only used ground chicken (so not vegan) and I used a lot of veggies. It was tasty, even 3 days later when we finally finished up the leftovers. Definite repeater.

*Note: Oyster sauce is obviously not vegan, but there are vegan options made with mushrooms, called Oyster Mushroom Sauce. Be careful, because some of the brands add lots of MSG to enahnce the flavor. If wanting to stay vegan and avoid added MSG, be sure to read the list of ingredients.

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