Rice noodles with Chinese chives, shrimp and pork (banh pho xao he)
Total time: 35 minutes, plus soaking time for the noodles
Servings: 2 to 3 as a main course, 4 to 6 as a side
Note: From Andrea Nguyen. Chinese chives are significantly larger than Western chives, and their flat leaves have a delicate garlic, rather than onion, flavor. In Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, they are typically sold in 1-pound bundles. Vietnamese cooks treat them like a green vegetable, often cooking them with noodles.
1/2 pound medium dried flat rice noodles (banh pho)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into pea-sized pieces
1/3 pound ground pork, coarsely chopped to loosen
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound Chinese chives, bottom 1/2 -inch trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
2 or 3 limes, quartered
1. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with hot tap water. Let them soak until they are pliable and opaque, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and use kitchen scissors to cut them into 3- to 4-inch lengths.
2. To make the flavoring sauce, in a small bowl combine 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar, the fish sauce and water, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
3. In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the shrimp and pork and stir briefly to break up the meat. Sprinkle in the salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Keep stirring until the shrimp and pork have turned opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Chinese chives. Because there is so much food in the pan now, use 2 cooking utensils to stir and toss the ingredients, ensuring even exposure to the heat. (Think of tossing a big salad.)
4. When the chives have collapsed by one-third of their original volume, after about 3 minutes, add the noodles and combine well. When all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined, give the flavoring sauce a stir and pour over the mixture. Continue stirring and tossing 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until the noodles and chives are soft and cooked.
5. Remove from the heat, squeeze 4 lime wedges (1 lime) over the noodles, and mix well to distribute the flavors. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with the remaining lime wedges.
Each of 3 servings: 604 calories; 27 grams protein; 77 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 148 mg. cholesterol; 1,753 mg. sodium.