Introduce noodle dish

South-east Asian cooking uses nood les in great quantities.If the main dish doesn't contain rice to provide the starch content of the meal, then it will consist of noodles.They are eaten at all hours of the day, in a soup for breakfast,simply stir-fried for a quick and filling snack, or more elaborately incorporated into a main dish with meat, fish and vegetables. It is no wonder that the most common type of food stall in Vietnam and Cambodia is the "rice and
noodle" shop, as these two ingredients form the basis of every dish. In Vietnam and Cambodia, there are a variety of noodles, many of them made from rice. The everyday noodles in Vietnam fall into three main types: bun, which are long and thin, similar to Italian vermicelli i and called rice sticks -they are used in soups, side dishes,and as a wrapping for meat and sea food ; banh pho, also ca lled rice sticks, but they are flatter, thicker and sturdier, ideal for substanti al soups such as pho, and stir-fries; and the fine banh hoi which resemb le angel hair pasta and are prim ari ly used in thin broths.In addition to the common rice nood les, the Vietnamese and Cambodians both cook with wheat noodles, egg noodles, which are often referred to as Cambodian-style noodles in Vietnam, and the translucent Chinese cellophane noodles which are made from mung beans.

Often referred to as vermicelli, these dried rice nood les (bun), made from rice flour, salt and water, are thin and wiry and sold in bund les. Before using,they must be soaked in water until pliable and then the noodles only need to be cooked in boiling water for a few seconds, until tender and at dente like Italian pasta. In Vietnam and Cambodia,these noodles are used in soups and salads - they are often used to wrap around raw vegetables and herbs in Vietnamese table salad, as well as to wrap around grilled meats and shellfish.

These fl at, thin dried rice noodles (banh pho) resemble linguine and are available in severa l widths, which start at around 2mm/1!J6in. Al so made from rice flour, salt and water, they are used in salads and stir-fri es, after being softened in water.

Known as banh pho tuoi, fresh rice noodles are thicker than dried ones.They are often served as a side dish with curries and vegetable dishes. Like the dried variety, they require minima l cooking. In some recipes they are justdipped in warm water to heat them up,or they are added at the last moment to stir-fried and steamed dishes. Use them on the day of purchase.

Dried noodles can be bought in various packaged forms from most Asian stores and supermarkets. The basic principle is that thinner varieties require less cooking time and are served with light ingred ients and thin broths, whereas the th icker nood les take a little longer to cook and are balanced with heavier ingredients and stronger flavours .Before cook ing, dried rice noodles
must be soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes, until pliable.The dryweight usually doubles on soaking.The ru le is to soak well to soften, but to
cook bri efly. If the noodl es are cooked for too long they will become soggy. Once softe ned , both the rice ve rmicelli and rice sticks need to be cooked in boiling water for seconds, ra ther than minutes, until tend er and firm, ju st li ke
at dente Italian pasta. Divide the noodles among individual bowls and lad le stock or a meat broth over them or put them in a wok to stir-fry.Below: Soaking dried vermicelli noodles.

Pho Vietnam

Rice noodle (Pho Vietnam), a traditional dish of Vietnames

A variety of dried noodles are available in Asian stores and supermarkets, but
fresh ones are qu ite different and not that difficult to make. For a snack, the
freshly made noodle sheets can be drenched in sugar or honey, or dippedinto a sweet or savou ry sa uce of your choice. Simi larly, you can cut them into wide strips and gently stir-fry them with garlic, ginger, chillies and nuoc mam or
soy sauce - a popular snack enjoyed in both Vietnam and Cambodia.

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