A couple weeks ago, I somehow landed on a website called The Daring Kitchen where each month there is a cooking and a baking challenge. It seemed like a lot of fun and a great way to expand my cooking skills so I signed up to participate!
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I’m a little late in posting my completed noodle challenge but between the jet lag of traveling from Dubai to New York; the airline losing all our luggage so I had to go out and buy clothing and a replacement car seat for my son; this past weekend’s trip to Atlanta to visit a college friend; and not to mention my current attempt at potty training my 1.5 year old son – I had absolutely no time on my hands until now.
I’ve always wanted to make Chinese “Hor Fun“, which, besides sounding like a soul-storing magical item from Harry Potter, is a thick flat rice noodle (sort of like pappardelle but made with rice flour) and can be used in stir-fries or in soups. I love the way it absorbs the flavors of the surrounding soup/sauce but still retains it’s delicate texture. We often buy it fresh from Chinese markets.
Some of my favorite dishes from Chinese restaurants are stir-fried seafood served on Hor Fun, seafood soup with Hor Fun, stir-fried beef with Hor Fun…well, you get the picture…I just love Hor Fun. In Thai restaurants, I often order the Pad See Ew because it is close in taste and texture of stir-fried Hor Fun.
I found a recipe online for Malaysian Char Kway Teow, a rice noodle that seemed to resemble Hor Fun, but having never tried Char Kway Teow before I wasn’t 100% sure. But I thought I would try it out as the recipe seemed simple enough and the completed dish with all the accompaniments resembled what I was after.
I used round metal pans greased with corn oil and didn’t have any problems with the batter sticking as long as I allowed the pan to cool completely. But I had issues with my mom’s stove as it wasn’t level so one side was always thicker than the other with with gaps in the batter on the thinner side:
I didn’t have a kitchen scale and guesstimated the flour measurements from grams to cups. For my first batch, I didn’t even have measuring spoons – D’oh! My mom eventually found an adjustable measuring spoon in a storage box that my sister had left behind.
Without proper measuring tools, and a crooked stove, it’s probably no surprise that the noodles did not turn out at all like I had hoped.
I also experimented with using less, then more rice flour, more cornstarch, less wheat starch, less water, more water. Sounds confusing? Well, I lost track of all the changes I made – next time I should really write this stuff down.
The noodles came out overly mushy, not stretchy, and they fell apart easily – not fit for stir-frying at all. So I delicately sliced them into spirals and reincarnated my attempted Hor Fun into a Cheong Fun, which is a rice noodle roll, that is eaten as is (no frying).
In my family, we often eat Cheong Fun with a Vietnamese dipping sauce called Nuoc Mam Cham. I garnished it with XO sauce and freshly picked herbs from my mom’s garden.
How did they taste?
Pretty disgusting actually. But thanks for asking.
My mom, who NEVER throws out leftovers, not even leftover rice, scraped all my attempts into the trash bin. So it must’ve really sucked big time.
I won’t give up though! Once I’m back in my own Dubai kitchen and armed with a kitchen scale plus proper measuring spoons – I will give it another go.
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Hor Fun Cheong Fun with Vietnamese Nuoc Mam Cham
Rice Noodles (see link below)
Nuoc Mam Cham (fish sauce for dipping)
2 cloves minced garlic
½ lemon (~3 Tb)
2 Tb sugar
6 oz warm water
4 Tb fish sauce
chile flakes or hot sauce, to taste
fresh herbs (thai basil, purple perilla, cilantro)
lettuce and bean sprouts are also traditionally used
For the Nuoc Mam Cham (mixed fish sauce for dipping), I mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl and then set it aside for the flavors to meld. Makes 1 cup of sauce and can be refrigerated for 1 week.
For the rice noodles, I used the recipe and followed the instructional video from the Waitakere Redneck’s Kitchen. After steaming the batter, I allowed it to cool completely in a cold water bath. Then I rolled up the “noodle” and sliced it into thick spirals.
I placed the spirals on a plate and drizzled it with the Nuoc Mam Cham and garnished with XO sauce and fresh herbs.