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<p>The Thais&lsquo; love affair with noodles began right around World War II. The Chinese immigrants had brought noodles with them. But the noodles were made popular by a government propaganda. Because rice noodles are made from broken rice, by product of milling, they are economical to make. Especially during the war, things were expensive and hard to come by. The Thai prime minister promoted noodles as time saving and money saving meal, perfect for lunch. Otherwise, a full Thai meal required heavy investments both in time and materials. The effect has lasted until today, you will see that noodles are popular for lunch but not dinner.</p>

Rice Vermicelli

Sen Mee   เส้นหมี่

Rice vermicelli is my choice of noodles for a quick meal. The vermicelli is the small round noodles. It comes in a plastic bag with 4 flats inside. It's easily cooked. Pour hot boiling water over the noodles and let the noodles soak for 2 minutes. Drain and fluff the noodles. The noodles should be flexible and al dente. The noodles are available at Asian stores and some American markets. The noodles are called ‘sen mi’ or ‘me kow’, in Thai.

Recipes made with Rice Vermicelli

  • mee grob

    Mee Grob

    Crunchy sweet and sour rice noodles.

  • royal mee grob

    Royal Mee Grob

    Mee Grob Chow Wung

    Sweet and sour crispy fried rice vermicelli served with beansprouts and Chinese chives.

  • pork rice porridge

    Pork Rice Porridge

    Joke Moo Sub

    Rice porridge with ground pork balls, chopped cilantro, green onion and ginger.

Fresh Flat Rice Noodles

sen yai   กํวยเตี๋ยวเส้นใหญ่

I remember seeing a fresh rice noodle machine once when I was a kid. It reminded me of a printing press, where the paper or noodles move from one spot to another and finally pile up in a receiving tray.

The noodles are made by steaming rice flour mixture on a flat surface. The noodles are soft and sticky. These are available in sheets or cut, about 3/4 of an inch wide. They are made fresh locally and don't keep very long, 3-4 days maximum, in the refrigerator. However, you can freeze the whole tray and thaw the noodles in the microwave. At my local Asian markets, the noodles come in white foam tray with plastic wrap. They are on shelves, not in the refrigerator. The noodles get hard when they are cooled in the refrigerator. If you are planning on stir frying them, heat them up in microwave for a few minutes and pull apart the strands. Otherwise, they will clump together, more difficult to season.

When ordering noodles in Thailand you will be asked what kind you want - this one is called "sen yai".

Recipes made with Fresh Flat Rice Noodles

  • giant noodle rolls

    Giant Noodle Rolls

    Goi Tiew Lohd

    Tofu, bean sprouts and shrimp wrapped in fresh noodles and served with a spicy sauce

  • noodles in gravy

    Noodles in Gravy

    Rad Nah

    Soft rice noodles and Chinese broccoli with pork and gravy

  • pad see ew

    Pad See Ew

    Stir fried rice noodles with Chinese broccoli and soy sauces.

  • rad na

    Rad Na

    Rad Na Moo

    Soft thick rice noodles in a warm gravy with pork and Chinese Broccoli.

  • drunken noodles

    Drunken Noodles

    Sen Yai Pad Kee Mao

    Spicy hot rice noodles stir-fried with pork and holy basil

  • tom yum noodles

    Tom Yum Noodles

    Guay Tiew Moo Tom Yum

    Spicy and sour noodle soup served with crushed peanuts, powdered chili and lime juice

fresh egg noodles

Bamee or Mee Leong   บะหมี่, หมี่เหลือง

When I was growing up, every kid had a favorite type of noodles that they always ordered. I was never the egg noodles girl. But a friend of mine was. She ate the egg noodles with such gusto. Day after day of watching her, I finally broke down. I had to order the noodles too. I had to see if it was as good as she enjoyed it. I had that craze for the next 10 years. So, I made Ba Mee Moo Dang quite a bit.

Egg noodles is basically eggs and wheat flour, just like fresh pasta. These egg noodles are not your normal American wide egg noodles. They are freshly made and kept well in freezer for a long time.

The egg noodles are the size of angel hair pasta. In the old days, (I'm sure it is still made this way in some places in China) it was made by pulling the dough until getting the desire thickness instead of by extrusion or cutting. Making the noodles by pulling the dough is a real skill. This type of noodles is called ‘bah mee’ or ‘mee leong’ in Thai. Look for egg noodles in a refrigerated section of your Asian grocery stores. They come in a plastic bag with a few bundles in a bag. A bundle is good for one person.


Recipes made with fresh egg noodles

Clear Noodles

woon sen   วุ้นเส้น

Clear noodles are also known as cellophane noodles, bean thread noodles, transparent noodles and glass noodles. There are a variety of sizes from vermicelli to linguine size but the most common one for Thai cooking is the vermicelli size. The noodles are whitsh in color (not off white like rice vermicelli). They come dried in small and large bundles. The one that I buy comes in a bag with 8 small bundles inside (2oz. each). Each bundle is good for a dish.

Clear noodles are made from mung beans. Many Thai people who are on a diet, substitute clear noodles for rice noodles.

Soak in hot, warm or cold water (depending on what you are making) before cooking. The hotter the water, the more water the noodles soak up and the softer they become and the stickier the outside surface. This leads to some rules of thumb about what kind of dish takes what kind of soaking. For casserole type dishes (where the water in the noodles can get baked out) soak in hot water. For re-cooked dishes, like Thai spring rolls, use warm water. For stir fried noodles, soak in cold water otherwise the noodles will be overly sticky. The noodles are done soaking when they become opaque and are soft (like cooked spaghetti). After the noodles are cooked they will become clear. High quality noodles should not keep on expanding if soaked in water or soup for a long time.

Recipes made with Clear Noodles

Thin Rice Noodles

Khanom Jeen    ขนมจีน

These noodles are sometimes also called "Khanom Jeen Noodles". Traditionally, these are made from a rice batter made with freshly milled rice flour. There are two types of batter: the fresh and the fermented. The fermented batter is made and let sit until the batter is slightly sour (doesn’t take too long in hot and humid Thailand). These noodles are made at feasts by 4-5 people in a production line. The noodle maker will take a tin can that has tiny holes in the bottom that the batter/dough can pushed through. The noodle maker will hold the can over a boiling pot of boiling water and move it around so that the batter flows out through the holes in a steady stream and turns into noodles when it hits the water. The noodles are then fetched out after a couple minutes and then put in cold water. Then the noodle makers will form the noodles into a set of flat nests about 3 inches in diameter.

Now, the noodles are made by machines. And the batter is usually fresh as opposed to fermented. I personally like the fermented batter better. The sour flavor makes the noodles more interesting.

Outside of Thailand, if you are lucky, there are dried khanom jeen noodles at Asian stores. However, those are hard to come by. I ended up using somen which is Japanese wheat noodles. Somen tastes close to the fresh batter khanom jeen. Somen is available Asian stores. You cook somen in boiling water, the same way that you cook spaghetti.

Recipes made with Thin Rice Noodles

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