Rice noodles, bean sprouts, and scallions are tossed with a sweet Thai soy sauce to create a simple dish known as “poor man’s Thai noodles.” It’s not flashy, but it sure is delicious!
EXPLORING THE WORLD OF “POOR MAN’S NOODLES”
Sometimes we really want some Thai food. When we go out for dinner, we always look for a new place and menu item to try.
I was intrigued by the sound of the dish’s name, so I placed my order promptly. It was a simple dish like I had expected. Cooked in a sweet Thai black soy sauce mixture with fresh wide rice noodles, mung bean sprouts, and scallions.
My best guess is that it was created as a simple vegetarian dish for blue-collar workers. It brought back fond memories of the ease of our traditional Cantonese soy sauce pan-fried noodles.
The restaurant had the option of adding a protein, but I opted to make it vegetarian instead because often, the simplest recipes turn out to be the finest.
NOTES ON RICE NOODLES
One of my favorite ingredients is fresh wide rice noodles, commonly called chow fun noodles or ho fun noodles. If the Chinese market near you sells fresh rice noodles, count your blessings.
One other option is to make your own rice noodles using a recipe you find online.
Dried broad rice noodles are commonly sold at Asian grocery stores if you don’t feel like making your own. However, if you can’t find them, you can use the thinner rice noodles often used for Pad Thai.
SUBSTITUTIONS FOR VEGANS
If you omit the fish sauce or substitute vegan fish sauce, this dish can be enjoyed by vegans.
Nonetheless, you omnivores should definitely try the fish sauce. In addition to being a fantastic source of umami, it also serves as one of the dish’s defining characteristics.
- 12 ounces of fresh wide rice noodles
- 4 scallions (white and green portions separated; cut at an angle into 2 inch pieces)
- 3 cloves of sliced garlic
- 2 cups of rinsed and drained mung bean sprouts
- 1/4 cup of Thai Basil
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of Thai black soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of hot water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of Thai thin soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
- First, you’ll need to take the fresh rice noodles out of the bag and slice them into 1.5-inch broad strands. They need to be brought to room temperature if they’ve been in the fridge and then loosened in hot water.
- Rice noodles purchased in dry form should be prepared according to package instructions. You may also soften and rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes. Please drain the sink completely. Wetness on the noodles is not acceptable.
- Brown sugar and boiling water should be mixed in a small bowl. Combine the fish sauce (if using) with the soy sauce. Put aside.
- Spread 2 tablespoons of canola oil around the edge of a hot wok and heat it until the oil is smoking.
- The whites of the scallions, garlic and Thai basil (if used) should be added. Ten seconds after you’ve microwaved the water, toss in the noodles. The wok should be red-hot at this point.
- Keep tossing the rice noodles for another 30 seconds to rewarm them. Then, pour the soy sauce mixture over the noodles and swirl to combine.
- Stir-fry for an additional minute to ensure the noodles are evenly coated. A nice, smokey sear is in order.
- The mung bean sprouts and the scallion greens come next. Bean sprouts and scallions should be stir-fried for 1 minute or until wilted.
- Serve the Poor Man’s Thai Noodles over a platter and top it with the hot oil of your choice.