Spurred on yet again by the fabulous Luisa of Wednesday Chef, I made a special trip to the grocery store to collect ingredients for Charles Phan's Glass Noodles with Crab. I needed something different. Something easy. Something good. This hit all three points, and it was quick to boot. In thirty minutes, including a little kitchen cleanup, I had dinner on the table.
Glass Noodles with Crab
Serves 2 very hungry people or 3 to 4 regular eaters
2 packages (100 grams each) thin glass (mung bean thread) noodles
2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used paste!)
1/4 cup trimmed and minced scallions
1 cup crab meat, free of shell (or 2 tins)
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Fresh cilantro for garnish
1. Cover noodles in room temperature water for about 15 minutes. Drain.
2. Put oil in a wok or large skillet, and turn heat to high. A minute later, add garlic and half the scallions and, almost immediately, the noodles and crab. Toss, and stir to mix the ingredients.
3. Add the sauces, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Toss with sesame oil and remaining scallions. Garnish, and serve.
Here's how it went:
Once my ingredients were assembled, I unwrapped and de-stringed the glass noodles. The two bundles fit in my square Pyrex, so I covered them with room temperature water and let them sit for 15 minutes. There has been some discussion of how to soak the glass noodles (otherwise known as Vermicelli rice noodles or mung bean thread noodles). Cold water has been suggested for up to one hour, and warm water has been nixed as it makes the noodles too mushy. Fifteen minutes at room temp worked for me - the noodles became transparent and chewy when I tried one. My package also suggested I tear the noodles into a more convenient length, which I could do easily with my hands by this point.
While the noodles were soaking I chopped up the scallions (you can see them perched on the tinned crab in the photo). It only took two medium-sized ones to make up a quarter cup. I drained the crab meat and was surprised to find it was shredded, rather than in chunks. At $4 per tin, though, it was the priciest part of my meal - and overall it was still very inexpensive. (Two packets of noodles at 67 cents each and less than a dollar's worth of scallions. The sesame oil, fish sauce and oyster sauce were each just under $3. I had dark soy sauce already, which is partly why my finished dish looks different from Luisa's.)
With vegetable oil heated, I dumped in the drained noodles. Don't do it in a big clump like I did - you'll end up with a web of noodles all stuck together at the bottom of the pan. Trying to compensate, I tossed the noodles, garlic and scallions quickly to try and coat everything with oil. The crab was next, followed by the sauces. I admit I didn't measure per se, but this dish is quite forgiving. I eyeballed as I poured and stuck as close to a tablespoon of each as I could while trying not to let it overcook. Needless to say I made quite a mess.
Rather than top with cilantro, I simply split the noodles into two bowls and added pretty chopsticks. Jody and I dug in. I don't know how this would serve more than two adults unless it was as a side dish. It was so tasty, and not too fishy - I have never bought fish or oyster sauce before, but the ratio here was a good one, despite my haphazard splashes into the pan. I think next time I might add some capsicum/bell peppers, but this was so simple and good - and I will definitely make it again.
I took more photos, but these are it for now. Turns out my iPhoto has somehow been corrupted; it isn't due to the Snow Leopard upgrade.