When we got home yesterday after our shopping expedition to Chinatown I realized that we had far too many noodles in the apartment. And 2 lbs worth of Chinese chives. So I had to come up with a recipe to use up some of both. Luckily, our Vietnamese cookbook had a recipe that used both rice noodles and Chinese chives. We did have to run to the regular grocery store to buy some ground pork and shrimp, but Fairway is nearby so it was no big deal. Let's be honest. I trek all over the city for some of my more esoteric groceries. By comparison a trip to Fairway is nothing. I consider the effort well worth it when we get a delicious dish out of it.
These noodles kind of reminded me of Ming Tsai's My Crazy Chicken (Turkey) Rice Noodle Stir-Fry, except that Ming's noodles skew a little more Thai/Malaysian while these noodles are more Vietnamese. I really loved the Chinese chives in this dish. They are crazy aromatic and delicious. Chinese chives have a garlicky flavor rather than an oniony flavor. And they smell amazing. I really enjoy them, but I generally don't buy them because they come in huge bundles and I don't have that many uses for them. Sometimes I roll them in with my Vietnamese summer rolls. Other times I have thrown it into shrimp and pork stir-fries. If it had occurred to me I would have served these noodles with some sriracha. Or we could have taken a page from Ming's recipe and mixed some sambal in with the noodles as they stir-fried. But I forgot all about it until after I finished eating. Alex wanted some more nuoc cham to go with the noodles but I was worried that it would obscure the delicate flavors of the Chinese chives and the flavor of the shrimp and pork. Alex liked the Ming Tsai noodles better because their flavors are a little more assertive - more spice, more lime, just more. But I really liked the subtler flavors here. In the end, I think it's a toss up for me. Both recipes are good, but for different reasons and different moods.
Recipe after the jump!
Rice Noodles with Chinese Chives, Shrimp and Pork
Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
By Andrea Nguyen
1/2 lb medium dried flat rice noodles
1 1/4 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped into pea-sized pieces
1/3 lb ground pork, coarsely chopped to loosen
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 lb Chinese chives, bottom 1/2-inch trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
2-3 limes, quartered
Place noodles in a bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let soak for 15-20 minutes, until pliable and opaque. Drain and use scissors to cut them into 3-to-4-inch lengths.
Mix together sugar, fish sauce and water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add shrimp and pork and stir briefly to break up the meat. Sprinkle in salt and sugar. Keep stirring, and when pork and shrimp have changed color, after about 2 minutes, add Chinese chives. When the chives have collapsed by 1/3 of their original volume, after about 3 minutes, add the noodles and toss to combine well. When all of the ingredients are well-combined, add sauce. Continue stirring and tossing until noodles and chives are soft and cooked, and mixture is well-combined, about 2-3 minutes.